Ten Tips on Applying for a Non-Immigrant Visa

You may apply for your visa up to 120 days prior to your start date. Please check the U.S. Embassy website for information about how to schedule your visa appointment. During the visa interview, the consular officer will be examining your application. To help this process go smoothly, please keep in mind the following information.

1. Ties to your Home Country

Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas, such as student visas are viewed as intended immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. Ties to your home country are things that bind you to your homeland such as family, job, place of residence, future financial prospects, etc.

2. Documentation

Evidence of sufficient funds to cover expenses as well as evidence of scholastic preparation may be requested. Be sure you include your acceptance letter from Central Methodist University, your scholarship offer, financial statements, and your sponsor's affidavit of support.

3. Language

The interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. It might be helpful to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview to develop a higher comfort level using the language.

4. Speak for Yourself

You will not be able to bring parents or family members with you during your interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, so you must be prepared to speak on your own behalf.

5. Know the Program and How it Fits your Career Plans

If you are not able to explain why you are interested in studying a particular program in the United States, you might not convince the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home.

6. Be Brief

Due to a large volume of visa applications, consular officers are under pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must be able to assess your potential and make a decision based upon the impression they form of you during the first few minutes of your interview. Speak clearly, and give clear, concise answers to the questions.

7. Not all Countries are Equal

Applicants from countries with a history of terrorist activities may encounter additional scrutiny. Countries experiencing economic problems or applicants from countries where students have remained in the U.S. as immigrants may have more difficulty obtaining visas.

8. Employment

Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work after graduation. While a number of students do work over the course of their studies, such employment requires authorization and is incidental to the main purpose of completing their education.

9. Apply in your Home Country

Applicants for student visas should apply at the U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence.

10. Maintain a Positive Attitude

Do not argue with a consular officer. If you are denied a student visa, you may request the reason you were denied in writing, and ask the officer for a list of documents to bring to a future appointment in order to overcome the denial.