Anyone who is good at studies and aspires for a bright future would want to study at the best universities in the world. And, some of the crème-de-la-crème of educational institutions, such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Caltech and the University of Chicago, are located in the US. No wonder so many young people from all across the globe attempt to gain admission into universities in America each year. One of my closest friends from India had dreamt of doing so himself, ever since he was 11 years old! He had always been a standout performer in school, and did manage to get admission for undergraduate studies at Harvard University, where he majored in economics or political science.
However, to fulfill his wish to study in the US, he needed to apply for an F1 visa first, which is mandatory for anyone who plans to enter the US to study in a university, high school or other academic institutions.
F1 Visa application requires the applicant to go for an interview, where the visa officer asks several questions to determine whether the applicant is a viable candidate for a US visa. The key to cracking this interview is to prepare well for it and then answer honestly and with full confidence.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for the interview.
Prepare Your File
You need to prepare a neatly catalogued file, with all the essential documents in place and marked. Here is a list of documents your file should have:
- Visa Interview Appointment Letter
- Passport, both current and previous ones.
- Fee Receipt
- DS160 Confirmation Slip, with clearly visible bar code.
- Passport Size Photograph (As per regulations)
- Class 10 and 12 Certificates and Mark Sheet.
- GRE/GMAT/SAT Scorecard
- IELTS/TOEFL Scorecard
- Savings Bank Account Statement of the last three years.
- Fixed Deposit Certificates of the last three years, if any.
Dress for Success
The first impression you make can make a huge difference to how the interviewer perceives you. This is true of all interview situations, including the F1 visa interview. It is therefore advisable to wear formal attire for the interview, perfectly matched with the weather. This demonstrates your seriousness towards the visa process and your intention to study in America. Girls can opt for Indian wear, although men should stick to formal shirts and trousers. Choose soft yet solid pastel shades for your clothes. Make sure the clothes are clean, well ironed and do not wrinkle easily.
If you prefer to wear accessories on a normal day, I would advise you to bid them goodbye for that day, or at least keep them to a minimum. So, women could wear small earrings and both men and women can wear accessories associated with their religious beliefs, but make sure they are small, unobtrusive or, better yet, hidden under your shirt. However, if you need glasses, make sure you wear them, especially if your passport has your picture with glasses.
Important Things to Take Care of During the Interview
- Don’t be nervous during the interview, or at least don’t show it. This interview is your gateway to fulfilling your dream of studying in the US, so a little smile could go a long way.
- Give all answers to questions asked during the interview in English. Be as clear and crisp as possible. There is no need to impress the Visa officer with an American accent, if s/he can understand Indian accents.
- You might feel shy or hesitant to make eye contact with the interviewer. However, eye contact is what demonstrates confidence and sincerity. So, work on it.
Lastly, do not offer to show them the documents you are carrying unless you are asked for them. Acting like a bit of a know all could turn things against you.
Be cool. Don’t fret. The officers see hundreds and thousands of applicants like you daily. They can probably figure out who’s real and fake from a distance by now.
All the best!