What to Expect in a Consular Interview
- Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular that they are not. The burden of proof falls upon the applicant. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the U.S. "Ties" to your home country are things that bind you to your hometown, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans, and career prospects in your home country after you return. Each person's situation is different, and there is not a magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee visa issuance.
- Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview. If you are coming to the U.S. solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.
- Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The Consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf.
- If you are not able to articulate why you will study in a particular program in the U.S., you may not succeed in convincing the Consular officer that you are planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home.
- Because of the volume of the applications received, all Consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct quick and effective interviews. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute or two of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.
- It should be clear at a glance to the Consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read and evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you are lucky.