Is it Difficult to get a US visa from as a Muslim?

Following opinion, a question came from a reader. He’s concerned about possibilities of getting F1 Visa being a Muslim.

Aslam’s question:

I have been following your blog for more than a year, and find it really informative. It has helped me a lot while working towards my aim of an admit from a top US university. Now, I have an admit from one of the Ivy league universities (Cornell University) for their masters programs. I am in the process of preparing all my documents for the visa interview (will definitely share that experience with you!).

The only thing that’s bothering me is that, as a Muslim, it might be difficult to get a US visa. As everyone knows, the US is not a favorable place for Muslims, due to racial profiling and all the events that took place in 2001 and later. Is it possible that the visa office might have such a bias? Have you seen any such cases?

My profile is pretty good, having completed my BE from one of the top engineering colleges in India, in top 10%, solid work experience in a large tech firm, and an ok GRE score (around 320).

I would really appreciate it if you could provide some feedback.

F1 Visa For Muslims to Study in USA

First, I don’t agree to the statement “The US is not a welcoming place for Muslims”.

According to Open Doors report on Leading Places of Origin for International students for 2014/2015

  • China 304,040
  • India 132,888
  • South Korea 63,710
  • Saudi Arabia 59,945
  • Canada 27,240

As you can see so many students from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan have come to USA for higher education. I assume majority of the students from those countries would be Muslims. Students are coming from other countries too.

Visa Officers issue visa based on your qualification.  With your admit from Cornell, you should be looking forward to study in USA. Good luck with your visa and educations in the USA.

F1 Visa Interview at Abu Dhabi by Aslam

  • Fi Visa an interview: stuck in 221g for almost a month
  • Consulate: Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Date: 7 June, 2012

For Abu Dhabi consulate, F1 visa applicants have to walk-in. There is no need to schedule the interview. I reached around 9 am. Within 20 minutes, I was done with the security check and the fingerprint process. Then had a wait of about an hour and a half before my number was called for the interview.

Me: Good morning!
VO: Hello.

VO: Please pass me your i20 and passport, please.
Me:

VO: Which university are you going to?
Me: Ma’am, I am going to Cornell University.

VO: Which course?
Me: Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

VO: How will you be paying for the course?
Me: I have my personal savings from which I can fund the course.

VO: Really?? How did you get so much money??
Me: Ma’am, I have a good job here in Abu Dhabi, which pays me around AED 15000 per month (~INR 2 lakhs), and I have very low expenses since I’m staying with my family. So most of the money from my salary is saved.

VO: Ok. Can you show me your bank statements?
Me: Here you go.

VO: What is the duration of your course?
Me: The course is for ten months.

VO: Wow! That’s a short course for a Masters degree!
Me: Ma’am, it is a Masters in Engineering course. It is more focused on design and practical application of engineering concepts. I take around 30 credits which are almost the same as a two-year course.

VO then starts typing a lot into her computer, and then finally pulls out yellow sheets of paper.

VO: Your application needs to go for administrative processing. It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months.
Me: Ma’am, my course starts on August 20th, what if the application isn’t processed till then?

VO: You have to be patient. We try to expedite the process for students so they can attend classes on time, but there are no guarantees.

Me: Thank you for your time.

I don’t have update if he got his visa to study in USA at Cornell University.

11 Comments

  1. shahid rasheed on July 10, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    my name is shahid my wife name is noreen she is neuro pateint problem feet i have 2 childrent i am poor people i have no job plz help me

  2. Aslam on May 22, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Thanks HSB and all others for the replies. My visa interview is next week, let’s see how it goes!

    • Raghuram Sukumar on January 6, 2016 at 2:00 PM

      Did you get F1 to stuyd in Cornell? I know this was back in 2012.

  3. Abdulla on May 21, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    Hello everyone,

    I am from Saudi and would like to share with you guys that the government of Saudi sent while these last five years over 40.000 students to the United States. Yes we are proud Muslims but being Muslim,Christian or even Jewish may not contribute anyone to guarantee his Visas issuance, also who has not provided enough evidence to study in the United states for sure denial is granted. lately, the U.S embassy statistics shows that about 93% of those who applied for Visa got it. Nonetheless, you may know very well how much sensitive the situation is after 9/11. Overall and after spending three years in U.S, United States will welcome any student who would apply for F-1 Visa but should provide all requirements for acceptance. Be aware that the most important thing is also when you meet the Visa officer and how your reaction and documents would also be factored a crucial constituent in your admission.

  4. Roghaye on May 21, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    Don’t worry my friend. My sister got her visa around six months ago and didn’t face any problem! And also she didn’t face any problem in the airports! As easy as it could be 🙂
    Be confidant.

  5. Mustafa on May 21, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    This is just a common myth by lot of Muslims that US officer rejects on the basis of religion or on any sought of racial profiling.There are millions of Muslims currently residing in US..if US was really biased then no visas would have been granted to Muslims..So even the visa is being rejected we muslims should take in a positive way and then reapply with full positive energy. First time my visa was denied due to some incomplete profile but second time I got it with no problem as I corrected my first mistake.Even non Muslim brother/sister visas get rejected even after having a awesome credentials..US visa is nothing but the combination of hardwork and luck..So just take a chill pill and believe in yourself rather than believing in such myths..

  6. asif on May 21, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I agree with HSB that being a muslim does not affect your chances of getting visa.

    One definite thing that I experienced is you will be called twice for security check through what they call as ‘Random selection’ at the airport. While your other friends just pass by in the normal security check line, you will be treated as special guest. 🙂

    • Abdulla on May 21, 2012 at 10:01 PM

      All depends on your appearance, airline and the first airport that you came through. Newyork and Washington are always congested and different from other places as far as I am concerned. Personally,I had not had any kind of double check ,only once, my wife was wearing Hijab and had been scanned. In any case, I am hopeful that we live in peace everywhere and tell others that we are like them do care about safety as well as dignity.

  7. eddy on May 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Such rumors are only to underestimate the profile. If you love to get quality education from USA and you are talented and hard working, then they will welcome you surely… You have to be careful when you are going to stay in some other country. Do respect their culture and Values.

  8. molly on May 21, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    I got my visa today for USC… and i m muslim 🙂

    • rakesh on May 21, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      please post you interview details and your profile brother. we will have a clear idea 🙂

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