Let’s start with a story.
I was coaching a student who had two admits out of 15 applications. His GRE Score is just above the average score of 300. But, universities he applied was way above his target universities. Guess what? He had college admission from one of the best universities in Univerity of California system.
When I started coaching him, I knew that he’s going to get his F1 visa, and I don’t have to hand hold him. And I come to that conclusion within first 15 minutes of our the firstF1 Visa coaching session.
I said to him that, you are going to easy person to coach, and you shouldn’t have any problem with your visa interview.
How and Why did I come to that conclusion? That’s what we are going to be discussing today.
There’s an interesting statement made by the second student towards the end of this Under Graduate F1 Visa Interview experience.
“None of my academic documents were asked.”
It’s a common statement found in several F1 visa interview experience that’s posted in groups and forums.
That statement is viewed by students in two different ways depending on their student visa approval status.
- Visa Approved: Yay! None of my academic documents were asked. I got my visa. (Happy)
- Visa Rejected: VO denied my visa without looking at a single document.(Frustrated)
Let us examine the difference between two scenarios and then you can learn key lessons to help with your visa interview.
F1 Visa Rejected – No documents Asked
I got a shock of my life having denied F-1 visa under 214(b) and she never looked at my documents, the other thing Iam a religious Catholic nun. what ties do I have to prove and I vowed and owned nothing? Thanks for your kind assistance
Any update on your case? My J1 renewal is also stuck in administrative processing at the Chennai consulate. I submitted my passport via dropbox on Dec 28, they asked me to come for interview and did not specify any documents.
Today I went for the interview and no documents were requested. She kept the same documents as yours and said more processing required. Trying to understand how long it may take!
That’s just two examples that I could find with a simple search, and I’m sure you can find 100’s more examples by searching around for F-1 visa experience.
Here’s an another student visa questions and answers from a U.S. Consulate in India.
Me: Good Morning Sir
VO: Good Morning
Me: How are you?
VO: Good. How about you?
VO: Which university you are going?
VO: How many universities did you apply?
VO: Why did you select this university?
Me: It’s one of the best universities in the US for Masters in Mathematics (I was interrupted by VO)
VO: Do you have work any experience?
Me: No, I don’t have any work experience.
VO: Sorry. This time, you are rejected for the following reason and 214(b) slip was given to me and said better luck next time.
Me: Thank you, sir.
Note: VO did not ask for any documents nor looked at my face during the answers.
F1 Visa Approved – No Documents Asked
It was a dream interview in which I was just asked four questions and VO did not even ask for a single paper or documents. Questions where : Which program, Why UMass, Dartmouth, GMAT & TOEFL scores and How would MBA help me in my career.
Now, you have seen two sides of the coin when it comes to how students share their F1 Visa interview experience. Let’s focus on experiences where people have reported rejections.
If you come to me and tell me that, visa officer denied my student visa without looking at any documents, it equivalent to the following example
“I learned everyting I can about swimming by reading the book, watching great swimmer swim, when I jumped in the water, I just coludn’t swim.”
In other words:
“Looks like you have some work to do. Go back to drawing board, and start preparing for visa interview. You need to have better understanding of the visa interview process. You should stop reading interview experiences and start preparing for interview.”
Well, my answer is kind rude and probably that’s not what the student was expecting to hear from me. I will tell you why.
U.S. Visa interview for students is not based on the documents that you take with you. Documents are secondary requirements.
Do you know what is the primary requirement?
- You! Yes, You are the primary requirement.
- You and your answers (and everything else about you).
Let me stop you right here for a moment.
I’m going to ask you to read this sentence one more time.
You and your answers (and everything else about you).
Ok. You read it twice now.
What do you think about that this sentence? Here’s how four different people can think about the above sentence:
- Person 1: What’s there to think. You said that my answers count more than my documents.
- Person 2: How to give strong answers?
- Person 3: Me! What about Me?
- Person 4: What do you mean by “everything else about you.”
Dear readers, that’s what differentiates someone from preparing for the visa interview by learning how to swim by jumping in the water vs. reading how to swim from a book.
Depending on your potential and skill level, you may think deeper to find the hidden meaning in the sentence or would have skimmed past the sentence “You and your answers (and everything else about you).”
And that’s the difference between getting the visa and being rejected by visa officers without being asked for any documents.
Now, you are thinking, Raghu, can you be clear. Please be concise and explain what you are trying to tell here?
When you are preparing for the student visa interview, you should learn to read between the words and the sentences of visa experience.
That’s a skill that not every student has. Some students have such skills naturally.
The student in the story about The University of California had that skill. He worked hard to get into University of California that someone with 325+ in GRE might not get admission for Masters in Computer Science.
Did you watch the interview with Harsha: Study in Canada vs. USA?
That’s a perfect example of someone who was a below average student and how he transformed himself to compete with graduates from IIT and top universities in the U.S.A.
These two students are the perfect examples of having skills to interpret things in the right way and taking action.
I have seen that kind of talent with someone from GRE Score of 290 and low academics. Also, have seen someone with high score, but not street smart when it comes to visa interview.
Now, back to the documents required for the student visa interview. Here’s what U.S. Consulate in Chennai says
Why didn’t the Consular Officer look at my documents?
Applying for a non-immigrant visa is not a documentary process. Consular Officers never rely only on documents, although they may help support information you provide at the interview. If the Consular Officer made a decision in your case without reviewing documents, it was because the circumstances of your situation were clear. If your visa was refused, it is highly unlikely that any document you could provide would significantly alter the Consular Officer’s decision about your case.
Still don’t trust that answers the above answer from an U.S. Consulate website? Here’s one more reference from U.S. Chennai Consulate’s FAQ’s Section.
Student: Hi sir I completed my UG recently, Still didn’t get memo of 4th year, Can i apply to visa without that memo, I have I20..
U.S. Vice Consul : In order to apply for a student visa, you must have a valid I-20 form and passport. Your transcripts are not required. That said, you should bring whatever documents you feel will support your application. Just keep in mind that nonimmigrant visas are not document-based, and the officer may not ask to see your documents.
You should understand this simple fact – Documents are not your primary requirement for F-1 Visa.
If you know this simple fact, your preparation will be different that someone who is thinking otherwise.
- F1 Student visa is issued not based on your documents
- F1 Student visa is issues based on you, your answers (and everything else about you)
Question To You:
What do I mean by “everything else about you”. Please share your answers in the comments section below.