06 Jul F1 Visa Interview Tips
For international students coming to the US to continue their educational endeavors, the F1 visa interview is one of the most important steps in order to ensure that they can start their United States education. In this article, we lay out everything you need to know to ace your visa interview and become an approved F1 visa holder. You’ll find that it’s not as nerve-wracking as it may seem!
F1 Visa: What Is It and Who Needs One?
With so many types of visas out there, it can be confusing to figure out which one applies to your particular situation. However, if you are a permanent resident of a country other than the United States, and wish to travel to the United States in order to complete an educational program, the F1 student visa is most likely the visa for you. In 2015 alone, 644,233 foreign students received a US education through an F1 visa.
What is an F1 Visa?
The F1 visa is a student visa for those who wish to continue their education in the United States.
This visa is a non-immigrant visa meaning that it does not provide permanent residency status within the United States. Therefore, after the educational program ends, the visa expires and the visa holder must return to their home country or apply for another visa.
Who Needs an F1 Visa?
There are a variety of educational programs that require an F1 visa to attend. These include:
- Universities or colleges
- Community colleges or junior colleges
- Public high schools
- Private elementary, middle, and/or high schools
- Language training programs
- Any other academic institutions
If you plan to attend a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program, then you will instead need to apply for an M student visa. You can check if your school requires an F1 visa through the US Department of Homeland Security’s online School Search.
F1 Visa Interview
Once an F1 visa applicant completes all of the documentation for their visa application, the next step to determining their qualification is the visa interview.
What Is It?
The F1 Visa interview is a brief interview between you and a visa officer which establishes that you meet the requirements of the visa. Not all F1 visa applicants need to interview, specifically students under 13 years old or older than 80 years old have no requirement to interview. However, if you do need to interview, you will schedule the interview through the US embassy or consulate in your home country.
It is important to note that you must receive your F1 visa at least 30 days prior to your academic program start date. Since the F1 visa is the last step before receiving your visa, make sure to schedule your interview as early as possible to ensure that you will meet the deadline for the visa.
How Does It Work?
Every visa interview is different, and many applicants experience varying types of interviews based on their interviewing officer and their personal plans for the visa. Some interviews are very formal, whereas others are more like a conversion about your academic plans and endeavors.
There is no list of questions that every interviewer follows. However, every interviewing officer is only trying to find out two things about your time on your visa.
- What is your intent on studying in the US?
- Can you afford your stay in the US?
Most of the questions the interviewer will ask will pertain to these two topics so you should be prepared to adequately answer any questions regarding your educational plans and financial support while on the visa.
Documents You Need for an F1 Visa Interview
Like with other Visa application interviews, the F1 Visa interview requires specific documentation that you must bring to the interview. These items include the following:
- I-20/SEVIS form issued by the U.S University
- Completed DS-160 visa application form
- Receipt of the visa application fee
- SEVIS receipt fee
- Visa appointment letter
- Passport and recent photograph
- Academic certificates/documents, transcripts, SOP, original GRE and TOEFL score reports
- Documents that confirm your financial and personal tie-ups to your homeland, which proves your compulsory return after the completion of your course in the US
- If financially dependent, proof of relationship with the sponsor such as birth certificate is necessary along with the sponsor’s salary proof and job details
- Strong financial support documents and bank statements.
Top 9 Tips for the F1 Visa Interview
Now that you know all about the F1 Visa interview process and the documentation you should bring with you, all that’s to do is complete the actual interview. For many, this is the most nerve-wracking part. Prospective students that have made it this far in the visa process want to make sure they don’t mess up.
You should know that it’s natural to be nervous, but there is no need to be scared! If you follow these 11 tips, you will be well on your way to receiving your visa in no time.
Make a Good First Impression
When meeting your interviewer, making a great first impression can set the tone for the rest of the interview. Dressing formally, giving a strong handshake, and appearing confident are easy ways to start off the interview on the right foot.
Just like in any other setting, clear communication helps get your point across much more effectively. You should try and avoid filler words such as “like” or “um” and take your time when answering the questions.
One great way to improve your communication is by having practice interviews with a friend or relative before your real interview. Ask them to take note of how often you use filler words, and to provide feedback on how you can communicate more clearly when answering questions.
All F1 visa interviews are conducted in English, however, if English is not your native language, don’t worry! You don’t need to have the fluency level of a native English speaker, but you should be able to understand all of the questions without needing translation.
Again, it’s okay to take your time while answering the questions. As long as the interviewer understands that your English level is high enough for your academic program and living in the US, you will still do fine without having perfect English pronunciation or fluency.
Although every interview is different, as stated above, there are two main things the interviewer wants to determine from the interview: your educational plans and financial support. Therefore, you should be prepared to answer questions that pertain to these two topics such as ‘how do you plan to pay for your living expenses?’, or ‘what do you plan to do after your educational program ends?’.
Even though the questions are not the same for every interview, here are 65 questions that will prepare you for what the interviewer will ask during your interview. (Link to the 65 F1 Interview Questions content here)
Know Your School and Program
The interviewer will ask a few questions regarding the school and program you plan to attend. Since the program is the reason you are applying for the visa, you should be well informed about what program you are attending and how it will help you in your future career or educational goals.
Some things to know are how long the program lasts, what you will be learning, what you plan to do with the knowledge you gain from the program, and why you chose that particular program to attend. Overall, think about why you chose to attend that program rather than one in your home country.
Prove Your Intent to Return Home
The F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, so after the educational program ends, you must plan to return back to your home country. The interviewer will try to ensure that this is your plan by asking you questions about when you plan to return home and what you plan to do after your program.
When answering these questions, make sure to clearly communicate that you do not plan to stay in the US after your program ends. If you don’t, this would disqualify you from the F1 visa.
Keep Your Answers Precise and Concise
Most visa interviews are extremely short, often under 5 minutes. Therefore, you want to keep your answers concise so that you have time to answer all of the questions. Again, practicing the interview beforehand can help with this. When you practice answering common interview questions beforehand, you will eliminate the time it takes for you to think of your answer and will increase the effectiveness of your answer.
Since there is so much riding on this interview, many applicants will overstress during the interview. This can make them look questionable and flustered.
You should try to stay as positive as possible throughout your interview so that you appear polite, calm, and relaxed. Even if you feel like you made a mistake, stay positive!
Your visa interviewer has likely given hundreds of interviews before and will know if you are being dishonest. You should never lie during your interview or fake any documents that you bring to the interview. Doing so will only increase your chance of denial.
Remember that although the F1 visa interview may seem like the toughest step of your application, it is also the last step! Once completing your interview, you become well on your way to starting a new chapter of your education. We hope this guide has helped you prepare for your interview and we wish you the best of luck!