Interview Guide for F1 Student Visa for USA

While getting into college in the USA is a thing of joy, the problem lies in passing the F1 Student Visa interview questions. All students across the country agree on how difficult the interview session can be, especially if your application gets turned down. This may be scary, but the Visa interviewer wasn’t instructed to cancel the F1 Student Visa request. Their job is to validate your reasons for visiting America and has no intention of thwarting your plans unless they’re illegal.

It is important to understand that this interview is a crucial part of the US student visa application. An F1 Visa interview for undergraduates takes on average (sometimes less) about three to four minutes. Contrary to popular belief, the Visa officers will not scrutinize all your documents, except in rare cases. Generally, Visa officers do not request any documents, but you should have them with you at all times and only present them when asked.

The purpose of this guide is to clear up misconceptions about the F1 Visa requirements and F1 visa interview process, and also teach you how to prepare for an F1 Visa interview, how to apply for an F1 visa interview, what to bring for an F1 visa interview, and how to dress for F1 visa interview. This article offers a list of some tips and frequently asked F1 Visa interview questions and answers to guide you on the best way to answer basic Visa interview questions. Remember there are no rules. Like all interviews, every student Visa interview is unique. The key to scaling through is confidence.

What is an F1 Student Visa?

The F1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa required by international students who plan to study in the US. If you are granted entry to the USA through this visa, you are required to complete the whole duration of your selected course of study. Only the US Embassy and US consulate outside America has the authority to issue an F-1 Visa. No other agency or governing body has the right to issue F-1 visas to individuals. However, visa extensions or changes in visa application status can be done through legitimate agencies in the US. 

Furthermore, the partner and/or children of an F-1 Visa candidate need to get their dependent an F-2 Visa. F-2 visa holders are not permitted to work or apply for any form of employment, although the children can attend public schools in the US. Since the visa application process is strenuous, you have to start applying beforehand. As soon as you receive your offer of admission or acceptance letter from the university and your I-20 form, you should start applying for your F-1 Visa. Once you receive your acceptance letter from your choice of University in the US, you get registered with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and will have to pay the one-time application fee (SEVIS). 

Students need to show proof of funds and also pay the required deposit specified by the university to get their i20 form. Once you receive the i20 form, proceed to pay the SEVIS fee. The I-20 form acts as a supporting document to prove that you have enough funds for the entire duration of your stay, as there is a limited number of legal employment opportunities available for students. This form will also serve as the medium to schedule an appointment for your student Visa interview with the local US Embassy or Consulate.

How to Prepare for F1 Visa Interview 

Like any interview, this is a formal interaction between two or more people – the interviewer and the interviewer. so you need to be prepared for this. Remember that doing your homework is the key to success, but before you start preparing any questions or concerns for the interviewer. Here are some things you should note before going for a student visa interview in the US:

  1. Prepare your files and neatly catalog all your documents. Even if they do not request all documents, it is important to ensure that all documents are presented and cataloged. Also, refer to the list of documents to carry during the interview). 
  2. Go through the admissions essay and SOP you submitted, along with the full list of universities and courses you have applied for.
  3. Revise the credit system, tenure, faculty, and highlights of the course you enrolled for. Also thoroughly review why you chose that particular university.
  4. Read about the history of places near the university and the state as a whole.
  5. Review your financial documents to clearly understand how you intend on paying for your education in the United States.
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What To Bring For F1 Visa Interview (F1 Visa Requirements)

There is a list of required documents for every application and in the case of an F1 Visa interview for undergraduates, the main supporting documents include your personal information, academic background, financial documents, and professional documents. We advise that you remain prepared and keep all the documents handy. Before we share the list of documents required for the F1 Visa interview, we would like to reiterate that your application/appointment letter is the only document you would be asked to present. 

However, being prepared is always advisable and you should keep these documents handy for that one-in-a-million chance of the interviewer asking to see any document. Also, file them neatly so that they are easily accessible. In addition, your original passport should be readily available, as you will be requested to submit the same. Here is an updated list of documents required for a US Student F1 Visa Interview for undergraduates.

1. Personal Information

  • International Passport (both current and previous ones)
  • Passport Size Photograph (as mentioned in the regulations)
  • Visa Interview Appointment Letter
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • MRV Fee Receipt
  • DS 160 Confirmation Slip (with clear bar code)

2. Educational Documents

  • Academic Transcripts (including Class 10 and 12 Certificates along with mark-sheets)
  • GRE/GMAT/SAT results
  • IELTS/TOEFL/PTE results
  • Bachelor’s Degree or Provisional Degree Certificate or course mark-sheet (if applicable)

3. Work-related Documents (if applicable)

  • Employment Letter
  • Salary Slips (last six months)
  • Resignation Letter

4. Financial Documents

  • Savings Bank Account Statement (for the last three years)
  • Fixed Deposit Certificates (for the last three years)
  • Tax Returns for the past three years
  • Property Documents (residential, commercial, ancestral, and/or farmland)
  • Loan Approval Letter (if applicable)

Dress code for your F1 Visa Interview

The F1 Visa interview for undergraduates begins from the very moment you come face to face with your interviewer. And more often than not, the first impression is ascertained by your dressing. So before D-Day, browse through your wardrobe carefully while considering the following things:

1. Keep it formal and simple

Formal attire for men includes a formal shirt and pair of trousers and ladies can wear skirts or corporate pants and a plain blouse. You don’t need elaborate outfits or clothes that don’t match the weather. For instance, you don’t need to wear a 3-piece suit if your interview is in the summer or on a hot day. 

2. Choose light or solid colors             

Avoid flamboyant colors and shady clothes that can distract the interviewer. Instead, choose pastel-colored clothes if the interview is in summer or solid colors if the interview is in winter.

3. Wear minimal accessories

It is important to carry on minimal accessories, dangling earrings, long necklaces, and clinky bangles that jingle are a big no for women. If your accessory is significant to religious beliefs, try to keep it to the bare minimum. Men are advised against wearing heavy bracelets or drooping chains that jingle.

4. Ensure your clothes are properly dry cleaned

Waiting for your turn at the interview can be time-consuming, hence you are advised to wear clothes that will not wrinkle easily. Needless to say that your clothes should be clean and neatly pressed, messy clothes make you stick out like a sore thumb.

5. Apply simple deodorant

While it may be important to wear deodorant to prevent bad odor, you need to avoid applying strong perfumes and colognes. The Visa Officer may be allergic to your cologne and you would not want him/her sneezing through the interview or being uncomfortable with the fragrance.

6. Look the same as you do on your international passport

If your passport has a picture with glasses, ensure that you wear them to the interview. If it doesn’t and you normally wear glasses, please wear contacts instead.

Dos and Don’ts during a US F1 Visa Interview

Like any interview, there are some things you must do and a few things you shouldn’t do. Most of them are related to one another. We have tabulated the same:

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The Dos during a US F1 Visa Interview for Undergraduates

  • Smile

Smiling shows and boosts your confidence. There is no reason to look serious. You’re one step closer to your dream to study in the US and that’s reason enough to smile. 

  • Speak in English

Being able to fluently communicate in English is one of the basic requirements for studying in the USA. You must be able to speak English.

  • Look at the Interviewer

Not being able to make eye contact is considered to be a sign of dishonesty. You have to look directly at the interviewer when answering the questions.

  • Carry your Documents

Always make sure the file you carry is complete with all the necessary documents and it is cataloged properly so that in case you were asked to present a document, you have it ready.

The Don’ts during a US F1 Visa Interview for Undergraduates

  • Don’t be too nervous

Your primary intention for traveling to the USA is to study and there is no reason to be nervous about it.  Every year, millions of students from all around the world do the same thing. While nervousness is natural, sweating or hyperventilating is a bit too much and not a good sign. If you tend to get too fidgety, practice some breathing exercises before your interview starts to calm your nerves.

  • Don’t stare

Maintaining eye contact with the interviewer and blankly staring at them without blinking are two different things. Constant staring can make the interviewer uncomfortable, always remember to blink while talking.

  • Don’t speak with a forced accent

Most Visa Officers understand your local accents, so there’s no need to throw off an American accent. Just try to be clear, and audible.

  • Don’t offer your document unless asked

The Visa officer is less likely to ask for all your documents. Please do not offer to show it to them until they specifically ask to see it.

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Frequently Asked Questions about F1 Visa Interview and Answer Tips

We cannot say this enough, but each interviewer is different and there are no set questions he/she might ask you. However, the purpose of the interview is to understand your intentions for traveling to the US – whether it’s to study and return or settle permanently in the USA and also assess if you can afford your stay in the USA. Based on this understanding, here are sample US F1 Visa interview questions and answers: 

Q1. Why did you choose this particular University?

Ans: Carefully read through the official website and handbook of your university. Take note of important highlights such as its world ranking, research facility, faculty courses, Alumni profile, etc. The Visa officer wants to understand what convinced you to choose to study at that particular University and reasons like – because I only got admission from that University is not acceptable. You should show excitement when expressing your reason, don’t be nonchalant about it. 

Q2. What other universities did you apply to (including those that accepted and rejected your application)?

Ans: The Visa Officer wants to know if you are serious about your education. Even if you applied to 5 different universities and got accepted by 1 but got 3 rejections, you need to be honest about that. You must be open about the selection process you underwent and how you feel about your acceptance. For instance, you can say something like;

Based on my course requirement, I had shortlisted and applied to five universities. This was among my top two choices and I was lucky enough to get accepted. 

Q3. Where did you complete your bachelor’s degree?

Ans: This applies if you are hoping to study for your master’s in the USA. Simply mention the course and the university where you studied. If the university has a high world ranking or some specific highlights, be sure to mention that too. Just keep it short and straight to the point.

Q4. Who is sponsoring you?

Ans: If you received a scholarship to study in the USA, say so and mention your sponsors’ names. You can also include your parents and guidance as sponsors as per the financial documents.

Q5. What do your parents do?

Ans: The Visa officer wants to verify the financial capability of the sponsors. Ensure that you read through the Income Tax Returns (ITR), and other supporting financial documents of your sponsors carefully. You need to understand the income source of your sponsors beyond their employment or business. Be very clear about the nature of their work and their specific job role. For instance, you can say something like;

He is the Senior Manager at Google, Califonia.

Or

She is a Professor at Harvard University, she teaches Business Law.

Q6. What is the source of your guardian’s/sponsor’s income?

Ans: The Visa Officer wants to know if your sponsor’s annual income is sufficient enough to meet your monthly expenses of studying abroad. They rely heavily on the average annual income of the sponsor when deciding the sponsor’s capability to meet the student’s educational expenses. You should also mention that you have already filed submitted the annual income of your sponsors to the University.

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Q7. How many siblings do you have?

Ans: This F1 Visa interview question aims to verify whether you have other family members whom your parents may have to sponsor and also evaluate the income-expenses ratio of your family.

Q8. Do you have any relatives in the USA?

Ans.Tip: You need to be truthful about this because the Visa Officer already has a full record of this with them. If your distant aunt or uncle stays in the US, then you don’t have to mention them. Only your immediate relatives i.e. blood siblings and parents are valid. 

Q9. Why don’t you study this course in your country?

Ans: The key to answering this is to state what you would benefit from studying for the course in the USA instead of your country. If the course is not available in your country, you can tell the Visa Officer that, and if the course is available in your country, highlight the differences in the course structure and overall quality of education between your country and the USA. You need to convince the Visa Officer that studying your preferred course in the USA will add value to your academic profile. Make reference to surveys and recent research conducted in that field, don’t be afraid to get technical if you need to.

Q10. What will you do after completing your BA/MS/MBA? Prove to me that you are going to come back.

Ans: If you intend to work immediately after completing your course, tell them you are looking forward to working with some companies back at home. Be sure to mention some of the names of the specific companies. If you are currently working, you can state that you already have an outstanding offer to rejoin your previous organization after completing your education. If you are interested in furthering your education and doing research, mention that as well. Be sure to emphasize the fact that you are to come back to your family once you graduate.

Q11. Why do you wish to study in the USA?

Ans: The Visa officer wants to understand your intentions for studying in the USA. To answer this, you need to emphasize how the USA offers quality education which would help you obtain a world-class academic degree and apply that knowledge to improve your country. Focus on highlighting the available academic resources and infrastructure, including the research opportunities and versatile method of teaching. Focus your points on the University and the course of study rather than the country to highlight why studying in the US is important to you.

Q12. Have you received any scholarships? Why has the University granted a Scholarship to you?

Ans: You should know how many scholarships you stand to get and the reason why a university would be willing to offer you a scholarship. The Visa Officer wants to know if you are aware of the university’s scholarship programs and financial aid. Also if you have submitted a Statement of Purpose for the scholarship, now is the time to mention that. Also, ensure that you have a copy of the document with you.

Q13. Have you gotten any loans? How do you plan on repaying the loan?

Ans.Tip: Answer this with details of the loan you have applied for and suggest that you are confident to find a good opportunity after you graduate that will enable you to pay off the loan with your income. Please do not suggest that you would be taking up part-time jobs in the US to pay off the loan.

Q14. Will you come back home during vacations/holidays?

Ans: The Visa officers want to assess your ties to your home country and family. You can say that you plan to come back to meet your family and friends during the holidays. Please do not mention your plans to work in the USA as it implies you are not financially strong and you are only going to the US to earn money. This will make the Visa Officer believe that you will try to settle down in the US and even take a job even after completing your education.

Apart from the above-stated questions, the visa officer might ask you questions regarding your academic profile, your sibling’s education, and current or previous. Remember, you need to be confident about your intent – which is to study in the USA.

Wishing you all the best!

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