Visa officers get tons of applicants every day which means student visa interviews are very short, lasting only a few minutes. This means you only have a few minutes to make an awesome first impression!
Remember, as you continue reading through these steps, honesty IS the best policy! Visa officers are trained to spot even the smallest lies given through body language so even if you feel that it’s a teeny, tiny white lie that will help make you look good, know that it will count strongly against you. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say you don’t know instead of making something up.
Telling the truth will ALWAYS go a long way in making a great first impression with the visa officer so make sure to apply this to yourself before walking in for your interview.
Now jumping back in where we left off:
Step 4: Guarantee Your Return Home
Guaranteeing your return home is vitally important and a step that cannot be stressed enough! A foreigner’s return to their homeland is often doubted and consequently, a big reason visas can be denied for international students.
Many students bring letters of recommendation from professors, supervisors and family members. While letters from abroad are extremely helpful to your career and education in your home country, a student visa interview isn’t the time to show off about international connections.
Make sure that all recommendations you’ve brought with you are originated in your home country to demonstrate your ties and help show an attachment to your motherland.
To be completely honest, many international students who come from third world countries look for an escape to have a better future for themselves and their families and who can blame them? But that’s a bridge that must be crossed later, when the time is right.
Your visa interview is definitely not the right time to even consider the possibility of not coming back. The answers you give back to the visa officer must confidently be filled with guarantees of your return.
Step 5: Have A Statement Of Purpose (SOP) Written Ahead Of Time
Having an SOP written before you head into your interview goes hand-in-hand with the step above (Step 4) since you’ll need to include your plans for after your education abroad has been completed. In case that’s a little too broad, more specifically, it needs to include the prompt return to your home country and jobs that you’ll search for with your international degree.
Putting time and thought into your SOP will help you identify your personal career plan, the college degree you’re set on getting, the reasons why you’ve chosen the college you have and your plans on how you’ll be using that degree in your homeland.
After you’ve written your SOP, familiarize yourself with it. Edit it if you need to. Keep it precise and to the point. The lengthier sentences are and the more unnecessary details that are added will take away from the substance you’ve intended for it to have.
The more dedication you put into this, the more sincerity will show through which will be needed to persuade the officer that you have given very serious thought for studying abroad.
If you’re unable to get your point across of why you need to study for a particular degree or relate your American college degree to you future career plans in your home country, you probably won’t succeed in convincing the consular officer to approve your student visa.
While you don’t want to memorize the script or give scripted answers during your visa interview, you do need to know each and every point that will be discussed. This also benefits you since it will help you to keep your goals in the front of your mind and respond with the appropriate answers confidently and honestly.
Step 6: Present Yourself In The Best Light
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘First impressions are lasting impressions?’
This couldn’t be truer than when going in for your student visa interview. The American consular officer conducting the interview will definitely be judging your book by its cover – contrary to the popular adage of not doing so.
Did you know that when someone looks at you, a first opinion is formed within the first 3 seconds of meeting you and the forever, lasting impression is formed within 8-30 seconds? It’s true!
Now is the most important time to make your best first impression possible by dressing and being the part of a serious student who not just wants, but NEEDS to have a better career and a better future that can only come from the best education the United States has to offer!
Likability does play an important role during your student visa interview – whether it’s ethical or not. Put yourself in a visa officer’s shoes: If you’ve just met someone and they have a great personality, you get a feeling of trust, right? Visa officers have the same thought. If a soon-to-be foreign student is forthcoming with information, smiles, is dressed appropriately and uses his/her best manners (please and thank you), they’re more apt to feel a sense of safety about the student.
Most importantly, be confident! If you’re completely prepared for your visa interview, then you’ll have nothing to worry about and be able to show more confidence. Confidence goes a very long way with American Visa Officers.
To say that getting your student visa is super easy would be completely misleading. You may have to try more than once but this doesn’t mean getting your visa is impossible!
These steps were given to help YOU through the process and hopefully take some of the stressors these visa interviews can cause. Use them and apply them so that you’ll feel at ease.
The more you know, the more you’ll grow (corny, huh?) to give yourself a pretty good chance of getting that official American student visa stamp.
To see how the interview will go once you’ve scheduled your appointment, here’s a great video to walk you through the American student visa process:
As an international student, yourself, feel free to share experiences you’ve had with the interview preparation process or the interview itself – whether they’ve been positive or negative. Students often feel a connect with each other whether they’ve met before or not and may be able to offer advice you might not have thought of yet!