Preparing for the Visa Interview
What to do IF… You’re Uncertain About Getting a Student Visa
You’ve been accepted at the college of your choice. You’re thinking about the courses you’ll take, the people you’ll meet, and the exciting things you’ll do … and then your heart sinks when you hear your friends describe the complexities of getting a student visa. Suddenly, you’re afraid: what if, after filling out forms and dreaming about your future, you can’t get a visa? Well relax; you can get a visa. But there are two things you should do to increase your chances of a favorable decision: first, have all the required documentation; second, be prepared.
The visa process step by step
You must have a valid I-20, which your college will send you after you have been admitted and after you have certified your available finances. When it arrives, check the following:
Is your name spelled correctly and in the same form as it appears in your passport?
Is the other information correct – date and country of birth, degree program, reporting date, completion date, financial information?
Is it signed by a college official?
Has the reporting date (“student must report no later than”) passed? (the I-20 expires and cannot be used after the reporting date).
Step Two:If your I-20 is valid, you’re ready to apply for the visa. In order to issue your visa, the Consular Officer must be satisfied on three counts:
First, are you a bona fide student?
The officer will ask about your educational background and plans in order assess how likely you are to enroll and remain in college until graduation. Be prepared to discuss the reasons you chose a particular college, your anticipated major, and your career plans. Bring school transcripts, national examination results, and SAT or TOEFL scores (if these tests were required by your college) and anything else that demonstrates your academic commitment.
Second, is your sponsor financially capable?
Visa requirements differ from country to country, but generally host governments want assurances that you won’t drop out of school or take a job illegally. How can you show that your sponsor is able to finance your education?
Your chances are improved if your parents are sponsoring your education. If anyone other than your parents is sponsoring you, you should explain your special relationship with this person, who may be committing tens of thousands of dollars to your education.
Provide solid evidence of your sponsor’s finances. This assures the Consular Officer that adequate funds will be available throughout your four-year college program. If your sponsor’s income is from several different sources (such as salary, contracts or consulting fees, a farm, rental property, investments), have the sponsor write a letter listing and documenting each source of income.
Third, are your ties to home so strong that you will not want to remain permanently in the host country?
Laws generally state that you must demonstrate sufficient economic, family, and social ties to your place of residence to ensure that your stay in the Americas will be temporary.
These include your family’s economic position, property you may own or stand to inherit, and your own economic potential when you come home with a U.S. education. The Consular Officer will be impressed to see evidence of your career planning and your knowledge of the local employment scene.
Family and social ties:
How many close family members live in your home country, compared to those living in the States? What community or school activities have you participated in that demonstrate a sincere connection to your town or country? What leadership, sports, and other roles have distinguished you as a person who wants to come home and contribute your part?
And if you’re refused a visa?
If your application is refused, the Consular Officer is required to give you an explanation in writing. You do have the right to apply a second time, but if you reapply, make sure to prepare much more carefully. The Consular Officer will want to see fresh evidence sufficient to overcome the reasons for the first denial.
If you have given careful thought to your educational goals and if you have reasonable career plans, you’ll find the visa interview an opportunity to prove you’re ready to take the next big step in your education and in your life: college in the Americas.
The information above outlines important steps for you to follow before you go for your visa interview. However, there is additional preparation you should undertake.
When applying for a student visa, it is important to demonstrate an academic plan that you have thought about and can articulate. The visa officer usually gets at this issue by asking you why you chose a particular university and why you chose X program at that university. They are not questioning the validity of the University or the program; they are trying to determine how clear you are with your academic plans and goals.
Before going for a visa interview, its quite important to gather information about the programs, courses and other details offered on the University website and have enough information about the University?recently a student during a visa interview was asked, “What do you want to study at X University? “The student said, “Computer Science, software development.” The visa officer asked if X University had software development. The student was not sure. Did the student receive the visa? You should be able to articulate academic reasons for choosing the University and that specific program at the University.
Facts to help you know more about the University of Bridgeport
The University of Bridgeport was founded in 1927 as a private co-educational, non-sectarian, comprehensive university. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Among the faculty is a large member of internationally recognized scholars, researchers and working professionals who have themselves studied, lived and taught in countries throughout the world. UB’s faculty holds degrees from Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Berkeley, Moscow State University, Georgetown, University of Vienna, Oxford, Carnegie, Mellon, Julliard and many others.
Highlights about the Business School
UB’s Business program is international, global in orientation. The school itself has national ACBSP accreditation ensuring a quality education. There are concentrations in the MBA program in Accounting, Computer Applications & Information Technology, Finance, Global Marketing and Management. The Dean of the Business School has a PhD from Yale.
Highlights about the Computer Science & Computer Engineering Programs
UB’s Computer Science & Engineering programs are well known. The Director of the Computer Science program has his degree from MIT and the faculty of the CSE department consists of world-recognized researchers in their respective fields offering you a chance to receive top-notch education. CS and CE students consistently rank among the top 5 teams in the annual ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) programming contest?students have won many prestigious prizes and that they are involved in interesting research well before they graduate. (Look on the web for some that apply to your area of interest.) The department is home to the RISC (Robotics, Intelligent Sensing and Control) Laboratory, and has extensive research and development facilities in the areas of VLSI, FPGA, Image and mixed signal processing, Networking, and general computing.
Please check out the website for more information about the University of Bridgeport or about specific majors.
Also visit the nearest US Embassy, Consulate, Fulbright Office, Binational Center, etc. prior to the visa interview to see if there is an information session on “Applying for the Student Visa”. Some offices have published booklets, others have tapes you can listen to that include guidance from visa officers themselves. You need to put as much time into preparing for the visa as you have put into the rest of the application procedure. Being well-prepared increases your chances of having a successful Visa interview.
Disclaimer: University of Bridgeport accepts no liability for the following content, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.
Regional Educational Advising Coordinator
for Africa, USIS
Reprinted with permission