For a prospective international student to study in America, one has to get F1 visa first. In order to apply for F1 Visa, a student should have received admission from SEVIS certified university (or college) and Form I-20. After receiving I-20, student have to attend the visa interview at an U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.

Getting a student visa approval is not an easy task. But, it’s every student’s dream to hear the golder words from Consular Officer “Your Visa is Approved”.

How to Get F1 Visa

  1. Gate admission and I20
  2. Prepare for the interview
  3. Submit DS160 Application
  4. Schedule Interview Appointment
  5. Visa Decision: Approval, Denial, Administrative Processing

F1 Visa Interview Prep:

Many student’s visa is denied, because they were not well prepared for the interview. Here you will learn what’s required to get F1 Visa stamp in your passport in your first attempt.

Experience is the best teacher. Hundreds of students have shared their F1 Visa interview experiences here in the blog.

Once, you  read few interview experiences, then writing answers to F1 Student Visa Interview questions.

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Students should note that U.S. Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your student visa 120 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date.

Also, after getting F1 Visa stamping, you can enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start/report date as shown on the Form I-20. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S.

What is SEVIS and SEVP?

  • Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) – Designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors.
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students. It enables schools to transmit mandatory information via the Internet, to the DHS and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor’s stay in the United States.

Requirements for Student Visa

  • Has a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence;
  • Intend to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
  • Possess sufficient funds to pursue the proposed course of study.

Applying for Student Visa

To apply for student visa in India you would have to do the following

  1. Pay the fees in approved HDFC Banks (Refer to VFS Website)
  2. Complete DS-160 form (online)
  3. Use the Confirmation number printed in DS-160 to schedule the visa appointment in VFS Website.
  4. Follow the instructions on VFS Site about required documents and interview procedure.

Students in other countries refer to respective US Consulate website about the interview process.

Required Documents

Read this article to get a complete list of F1 Visa Interview Documents (and samples). Now you have the list of documents, but that alone will not get the job done. Good preparation is the key to getting USA Visa.

How Long can you stay in USA on Student Visa

When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. In your I-20 and I-94 form you will see D/S written at Port of Entry. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in America. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departure:

  • F-1 student – An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school

How Visa Officer Issue Visa?

This is important. You have to understand how visa officers make the decision within few minutes of the interview. Sometimes they don’t look at the documents before rejecting the visa.

Here’s an article that shows the exact decision making process : USA Visa Officer and Decision making 



I got the scanned I-20, they have couriered the original, but haven’t received it yet I have a visa interview in next few days. Can I attend the visa interview with scanned I-20?

No you cannot attend the F-1 visa interview with scanned copy of your I-20.  Give sufficient time for the I-20 to be delivered to you and book your interview based on that.  Express delivery (FedEx, DHL) takes about 4 to 5 working days from USA to India.  Regular USPS mail takes 2 to 4 weeks.

Visa Rejections

F1 Visa can be rejected under 214(b) Potential Immigrant section.

Most of the students, after US visa rejection thinks they didn’t do anything wrong. Visa officer rejected their US Visa and their dream without any valid reasons.

Remember, there are 2 points of views to your F1 Visa interview.

  1. Visa Officer point of view (the expert)
  2. Your point of view

So, before arguing that your point of view is correct, think in terms of how the visa officer would think.

Recreate your visa interview experience and understand what could have been VO officers point of view for this answer I gave.

So, think several times before blaming the visa officer for rejections. My guess – it will be your mistake that caused visa rejections (majority of the times).

How Not to Prepare for Visa Interview

The following  email exchange will show you how not to prepare for F1 Student Visa interview.

HSB Fan: Hello  – I have a visa interview in this week.. can you give me some tips?

HSB – Speak with confidence and speak the truth. Practice in mirror by answering the questions. Smile when you speak. Good Luck.

HSB Fan – which type of questions they will ask?

HSB – Don’t say you have visa interview this week and you don’t know what types of questions they will ask.

Seriously, if you have US Visa interview this week and don’t know what type of questions will be asked? This is not acceptable.

Preparation is the key in every step of your journey to the USA.

Financial Documents for F1 Visa

Here’s something interesting from US Consulate in Kolkata.

How do I prove I can pay for the program? What financial documents will you review?

Financial documents are not required for visa interviews.

Typically, officers will not review these documents and will ask you questions about how you plan to pay.

Documents are not forbidden, and may on occasion be reviewed, but we discourage applicants from going through the trouble and expense of gathering accountant’s statements and property appraisals.

My suggestion – Take Bank Statements and Loan Sanction letter at least. CA and Property appraisals is up to you to decide. Plus, this was on the Kolkata US Consulate website, and rules could be different for other US consulates.

Administrative Processing 221(g)

One possible outcome of the F1 Visa interview is Administrative processing under section 221(g). Administrative processing is not visa denial.

Additional processing is required before issuing visas. About 70% of 221(g) processing are approved.