Tips When Applying for a Non-immigrant Visa
When applying for a visa with a Form I-20 or DS-2019 from Kent State University, you are applying for a non-immigrant visa. This means that you intend your stay in the U.S. to be temporary. However, the burden of proof (responsibility) lies with you to prove this. Under U.S. law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas (F-1 or J-1) are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter which can guarantee visa issuance. Below you will find some tips to assist you in preparing for your non-immigrant visa interview.
Complete the non-immigrant visa application (DS-156) online.
Handwritten applications will no longer be accepted.
Collect all relevant documentation supporting your trip to the U.S. This may include:
- Passport, valid for at least six months
- Eligibility Document (I-20 or DS-2019)
- Financial Support Documentation which match your eligibility document
- Letter of Admission from Kent State University
- ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION. Only present what is essential for the interview. Refer to the consular website http://usembassy.state.gov/ for documentation your specific office requires. It should be immediately clear to the consular officer the documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated.
Your visa interview is a conversation. The consular official who is interviewing you wants to hear about you and your plan, including important details about the following:
- YOUR PROGRAM AND HOW IT FITS YOUR CAREER PLANS. You should articulate the reasons why you will study in your particular program in the United States, including why you chose Kent State University. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your educational objectives, grades, and long-range plans.
- ENGLISH. 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, but DO NOT PREPARE SPEECHES! If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.
- TIES TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY. You must be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. "Ties" to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence, including: current or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc.
- MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Do not engage in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents or the reason for refusal in writing. This may be used to overcome your denial.
Some other important tips…
- BE BRIEF. Because of the volume of visa applications, all consular officers are under pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute of the interview. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point. Only answer the question asked. If the officer poses a “Yes/No” question, simply answer with “Yes or No” but do not elaborate until asked for more details.
- SPEAK FOR YOURSELF. 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.
- NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE EQUAL. Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the US as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the U.S.
- EMPLOYMENT. Your main purpose with an I-20 or DS-2019 should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work on-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education.
If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate.
If you overstayed your authorized stay in the U.S. previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation if available.
A few words about Dependents…
- DEPENDENTS APPLYING FOR F-2 AT THE SAME TIME. Be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the U.S. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the U.S. Engaging in volunteer work and attending school that is “avocational or recreational in nature” are permitted activities.
- DEPENDENTS REMAINING AT HOME. If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
Based on “10 Points to Remember when Applying for a Non-Immigrant Visa” from NAFSA: Association for International Educators