You might remember we have previously shared advice from visa officers for getting your student visa. They explained how to set yourself up for a successful visa interview by applying early, coming prepared with the correct paperwork properly filled out, and being able to show that you will return home after your studies.
In a new piece in the State Department’s DipNote blog, Consular Officer Monica Shie, who serves in New Delhi, India, adds her own perspective on what visa officers are looking for from you when you go in for an interview:
Every day in New Delhi, eight or nine officers interview hundreds of people seeking visas to the United States. Because we try to serve as many applicants as we can, the interviews are quite short — only two to three minutes. A lot of the information that we need is already there in your application, but we like to hear from you, personally, about your travel plans. Sometimes, visa applicants bring stacks of documents, and they seem disappointed when we do not look at all that paperwork. But the idea of a personal interview is to speak with you face-to-face — not to examine documents.
She explains that the visa officers need to verify that your intentions in the U.S. match the type of visa you are applying for, writing, “Students who only apply to one school and cannot explain their choice are also unlikely to be granted a visa.” She adds:
If you are a student, we expect you to be credible and qualified. You should be prepared to talk about why you chose the university that you plan to attend, and you should be able to explain how you will pay for your studies. It should be easy for us to believe that you will finish the degree at the institution you have selected, and we must be convinced that full-time study is the primary purpose of your travel.
But if Ms. Shie’s article has one overarching goal, it is to emphasize that visa officers are people too. She says:
We joined the Foreign Service because we are interested in other cultures. Most of us are here because we chose to come to India. We visit the Taj Mahal; we read Chetan Bhagat’s novels; we watch Delhi Belly; we love butter chicken. We want to be here, and we enjoy talking with you.
Take a deep breath, relax, and remember that the person behind the glass is there to help you. We are regular people too — just like you.