Being accepted on a university degree course in the US is a significant achievement. You will have been through a rigorous application process, and you should be feeling proud of your accomplishment. However, hard work doesn’t end there. As a student wanting to study in the US, you need to apply for and be successful in the process for a student visa.
Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes made by prospective international students when applying for the visa meaning that their applications are rejected. This is not only frustrating but can result in a delayed start or not being able to attend university at all. So it is vital that you get things right when applying for a US student visa.
Read the advice below on the most common mistakes made by international students when applying for visas, and learn how to avoid them!
You Apply for the Wrong Student Visa.
There are two visas available for international students, depending on your programme of study. If you are studying an ‘academic’ subject, you must apply for the F-1 student visa.
If you are studying a subject that would be classed as ‘vocational’ or ‘non-academic’, you must apply for the M visa. If you need help understanding the correct visa to apply for, contact your university beforehand. Applying for the wrong visa might just cost you a lot of time and money!
You Don’t Apply Far in Advance for the Student Visa.
The visa process for students looking to study in the US is not a quick process. Most universities recommend that you apply a minimum of three months in advance. This way, if there are difficulties or delays with the application, you should have time to sort these issues out before your course is due to start.
You Don’t Prepare for the Visa Interview.
Many students attend their visa interviews without doing the necessary preparation and end up with their visas being denied. The visa interview is formal and the interviewer will ask specific questions to find out about your reasons for wanting to study this course at this university, your planned length of stay in the US, your personality and your ability to speak English.
Failure in any of these areas is likely to end in your visa being denied. To approach this interview properly, you are advised to dress smartly, be concise and clear with your responses, always be honest, talk specifically about the university, its location and the course you will study, and try to show your commitment to this particular career path.
You Don’t Show Evidence of Having the Required Financial Resources
During the visa application process, the visa officer needs to be assured that you have adequate funds to pay tuition fees and support yourself during your stay in the US. The most common methods of securing funds for international students are parental contributions, scholarships or your own savings.
Whatever your method of funding, you need to be clear and honest about the exact amount of money and where it is coming from. International students are allowed to work part-time in the US, but this will not provide enough money to cover these expenses, and will not be accepted by the visa officer as adequate evidence of funds.
You Don’t Follow the Visa Rules Correctly
The rules for visas are strict and clear. Any mistakes, shortcuts or mistruths will result in denial of the visa and, quite possibly, a lifetime ban from entering the US. You must read the instructions carefully, do your research and ask for help from your current school or the university you wish to study at if you need it.
You Don’t Explain Your Choice of University or Course Well Enough
If the only reason you give for choosing the university you wish to attend is that it is a top-ranked university, you may find that the visa officer rejects your application.
You must show that you have thought carefully about the institute you want to attend in the US and have researched it thoroughly. Show your knowledge and understanding of the university and the course you wish to study there. Link it to your personal and professional goals and budget for studying.
You should also check that your university and/or course are eligible for a student visa in advance. If your degree programme is at an unaccredited university or the degree course is not considered credible, you are likely to be rejected.
You Talk About Learning Online
Remember when you are applying for this visa, you are trying to convince the visa officer that you need to be permitted to reside in the US for the duration of your course. Many US universities offer online learning options these days.
However, if you spend your time in the interview or application talking about taking online courses, your visa officer is likely going to doubt on your need to be in the US for the course. Instead, talk about attending lectures and seminars, the discussions you will have and the learning you will do in these.
The Visa Officer Thinks You Will Stay Longer Than Your Period of Study
One focus of the visa officer’s assessment is whether they believe you are likely to remain in the US after your period of study. If you discuss family in the US or wanting to start your career there, you are likely to be rejected. You can’t lie about having family in the US, but you probably don’t want to talk about it too much. You also need to talk about your aspirations to start your career in your home country after graduation.
Now that you understand the process better and know the mistakes NOT to make, you are well prepared to apply for your student visa. However, if something goes wrong along the way, panic not. You are able to appeal visa rejections and, if you followed our advice and applied for the visa early enough, it shouldn’t affect your studies.