Questions and Answers: The Visa Interview
How can I find out approximately how long it will take to get a visa interview appointment at a particular U.S. consulate?
You can obtain current approximate visa processing wait times and find a link to consular Web sites by visiting http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html Also be sure to check the consular Web site directly for local procedures and instructions, such as how to make an interview appointment. And still apply as early as possible in case of any unforeseen delays.
Is there anything in particular that I should mention when making a visa interview appointment?
Be sure to mention that you are applying for a student visa, as priority is given to student visa applicants—it can make a big difference in the time that you will wait. Also have your I-20 form at hand so that you can provide your expected program start date, your SEVIS number, and other background information that the consulate will need.
How long will my visa interview last?
The time available for a consular officer to talk with you will be quite brief (perhaps one to three minutes) because of the volume of visa cases that need to be processed daily in most U.S. consulates. Because of such time limits, good organization of your materials and short, direct answers to questions will be appreciated by the consular officer.
Are there any dress requirements for visa interviews?
No, and you will see people dressed in different ways. Businesslike attire is suggested simply for its benefit in making a good first impression. (The consular officer must of course be able to tell that you are the same person as the person in the visa photo so making extreme changes in your appearance after that photograph is taken is not recommended.)
I don’t know yet what I want to do in the future. How do I explain this in my visa interview—or should I just make up something that sounds good?
It’s not uncommon for students, especially undergraduate students, not yet to have firm career plans. Many U.S. undergraduates do not decide on a major until their second or third year of study. However, you probably do have some thoughts as to your most likely career options, and you can briefly outline these. Be honest—describing plans that, however practical, don’t match your real interests may raise concerns about your honesty in general.
I have family who live permanently in the United States. Is that a problem?
It’s not generally a problem and you need to be honest about it, especially as the existence of relatives in the United States is something likely to emerge during your visa application background check. You need to be particularly convincing in documenting what strong ties to your country you do have.
What are the consequences if I don’t tell the truth during a visa interview?
Applicants who provide incorrect information or fraudulent documents during their interviews may become permanently ineligible to receive a visa. (The same goes for individuals who help applicants provide false information.) All approved visa applications are checked against computer records to verify that information presented on the application was presented truthfully.
Can my parents/sponsor come to my visa interview?
The visa officer will want to speak directly with you, the applicant, and you should speak for yourself in order to make a good impression. It is not recommended that you bring along other people for your interview—if you think that the officer may have questions for a sponsor or someone else directly involved in the visa application, they can attend the interview, but you should be the one answering questions unless the officer specifically wants to hear from them.
What if I am worried about my English abilities? Can I bring someone along who speaks better English to the visa interview?
Your English level is required to be good enough for you to participate in your academic program. Therefore it is a mistake to bring along someone to interpret for you. Even if you are planning to enter an English language program and therefore do not need very strong English language skills, you will not need and should not bring your own interpreter—there will be someone at the consulate to interpret as necessary.