Secrets to Getting Your F1 Visa Approved
Oct 17, 2014 by Bryanna Davis
One of the first big tests when it comes to being an international student is getting approved for your F1 visa. In this hangout we will cover tips that you'll want to know when trying to get approved for your F1 visa.
Hi all, thank you for attending our kickin’ it old school class room series. I’m Bryanna Davis with International Student. Today we’re going to talk about secrets to getting your F1 visa approved. So we aren’t going to tell you the step by step process or what documents you need, you can easily find that information on our site - Internationalstudent.com. Instead, I’m going to cover some of the requirements for qualification- so items that you must meet before you’re approved. Each of these items will be tied to tips to keep in mind while going through the process as well as a few sample questions you might have during your interview. Knowing these will allow you to be as prepared as possible to answer the hard-ball questions and meet the requirements you need to for that F1 visa. If you meet each of the requirements for qualification but aren’t able to convey that you meet- then you won’t pass and be issued your F1 visa. We are going to equip you with the information you need to accurately answer questions and present yourself in the best light possible. Knowing what you need to meet will allow you to strategically think beforehand about what proof you can pull to support that you do indeed meet and should be approved.
So let’s get started. First we have foreign residence and Ties to home- meaning you will need to be able to demonstrate you have strong ties to your home country. Strong ties to home can consist of the following: A job offer letter upon completion of studies, assets such as a house, land or vehicle back home bank accounts and family. They want to see with any of these items that you have something back in your home country that you wouldn’t want to leave behind permanent. After all, you’re applying for a temporary student visa.
So, a tip for this requirement, be prepared for them to get personal. Know why you want to become an international student- and be able to express that to them. But also, something very important that you need to know is your plan of action once you return home. How will you better yourself and your home country after you obtain a degree in the US. This is a very deep question that not many students around the world can answer right away. So before your interview spend time contemplating this question and your future. A few sample questions that you might be asked during your interview would include: where do you want to work once you graduate, how often will you visit home during your studies, do you have any relatives inside the US, do you have a significant other located in the US, you’re currently employed, why do you want to leave your job.
Our next requirement ensuring you have an eligible sponsoring institution- you must have an approved institution that will sponsor your studies and issue your I-20 so you can receive your F1 visa. Without that I-20 there will not be an f1 visa. Now your school will know if you meet- if you’re not sure if it does, give your school a call.
Your school will have a designated school official (DSO), this individual is recognized by USCIS and the U.S. State Department as having primary responsibility for dealing with foreign students. Utilize them! Once you find a school that will issue an I-20 contact our DSO and see if they’re able to share their insight on getting your F1 visa and if they’re an eligible school. They are a great resource that you will want to utilize for advice. A few sample questions include: What school will you be attending, why do you want to attend this school- name specific reasons, what degree are you pursuing, why did you choose to study in the US vs. any other country, do you know about the city in which your school is located- share details if so.
The third requirement we’ll discuss is: Financial Support- You must be able to show that you have sufficient financial support for your studies abroad.
Before you can show that you have financial support you need to know how much the cost for you to study abroad will be. Showing that you know how much this step in your life will cost and that you have the funds for it is what will be needed.
Nearly 65% of all international students in the US receive their biggest chunk of financial support from their family, according to the Institute of International Education. However- showing financial support is one of the most difficult areas for many whose families aren’t able to support them. Because of this, students often turn to international scholarships and loans. Having an international student loan can be great, but also sometimes be a hurdle when having your school issue your I-20.
This is where the problem often lies: you plan on using an international student loan which you must be accepted into your school to obtain, but don’t have a school that will accept you and issue your I-20 to you without proof of financial aid. It’s sort of a catch 22 situation, you need proof of funds for your 1-20, but you need to be accepted into a school in most cases to get an international student loan.
Some students are able to use the initial loan approval as proof of funds. This being said- it’s not easy and will be up to the school and consulate officer if they'll accept an initial loan approval as proper funds. However, it’s an option if need be. You would need to apply for the loan and list the school you plan to attend, get initially approved based on the credit of your co-signer, then use that initial approval to complete your acceptance to the school and obtain that I-20.
Once again- it will be completely up to your school if they will accept that initial approval, but since it’s such as sticky situation, it’s often worth a try. Just make sure you understand it’s only the initial approval. Here are a few sample questions that they might ask you in the visa interview related to this topic: What is the occupation and monthly income of your parents, do you have any loans, what is the annual cost of your school, how will you pay for each year of school, can we see your bank statements.
Here are two other bonus tips that you will want to keep in mind. Make sure you follow the timeline- if you don’t get accepted into your school in time then you won’t get approved for an F1 visa. Make sure you stay on track with where you need to be. If you’re not sure what in the world you should be doing 12 months before you want to study abroad or 3 months before you study abroad, you can take a look at our timeline to check that you’re on the right track.
The important thing to remember is that although they can’t issue your F1 visa more than 120 days before the start date that is on your I-20, you will want to apply as early as possible.
Lastly, be honest and relax. At the end of the day the best thing you can do tell the truth, give as much information as possible and be prepared with all required documents in hand. If you’re stressed and on edge it might raise a red flag of concern. Additionally, if you behave inappropriately or act rude to the consulate then you run the risk of them writing negative comments in your file. If you have pure intentions of coming to the US to get your degree then that will be evident and there is not a reason to stress out. Although the consulate will be only one to make the final decision, you’ll start off on the right foot. Good luck and class dismissed!