Visa Interview Tips

In preparation for the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, it is important to understand the interview process and what is expected of you.  Make sure that you know the time, date, and location of your interview, and make all of the necessary travel arrangements to arrive on time.

Documents to Bring

  • Valid passport with at least 3-4 blank pages
  • I-20 or DS-2019 - be sure to sign it!
  • SEVIS Fee (i-901 Fee) receipt
  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Saint Mary's College acceptance letter
  • Proof of funding
    • The same financial statements that you submitted with the Certificate of Finances
  • U.S. passport-sized photos (if applicable)
  • Passports and I-20's or DS-2019's for dependent applications (if applicable)

Interview Setting

  • Do not bring your cell phone or any other electronic devices into the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
  • You will likely have to be fingerprinted and photographed as part of the visa application
  • You will wait in a crowded office until you are called for your interview
  • The Consular Officer who interviews you will be behind a glass window and there will be an opening for you to pass your documents to the Officer

The Interview

  • The Consular Officer will ask for the required documents and may ignore others
  • Your reason for studying in the U.S. must be clear and logical
  • Similar to a job interview, so dress in business casual attire
  • The Consular Officer will tell you at the end of the interview if your visa application has been approved or denied
  • Interview is probably only 3-5 minutes long

The Consular Officer’s Point of View

  • The Officer will review your DS-160 application and supporting documents as well as ask you additional questions to determine the following:
    • Does this student understand the implications of studying in the U.S.?
    • Is the student going to disappear once in the U.S. or are they planning to immigrate to the U.S.? 
    • Does this student pose a threat to national security?
    • Does the student have enough financial resources to support their expenses in the U.S.?

Visa Approval

  • If your visa application is approved, you will submit your passport and I-20 or DS-2019 to the Consular Officer
  • It will take a few business days to process your visa and return your passport and I-20 or DS-2019
  • You may need to go to a separate location to collect your documents – be sure to check the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for instructions on how and where to pick up your passport
  • Contact the Center for International Programs to let us know that your application was approved
  • Take a picture of your visa and upload it to your student file

Visa Denial

  • If your visa application is denied, ask the Consular Officer for a denial notice
  • Do not ask the Consular Officer why your application was denied - they likely won't tell you
  • Contact the Center for International Programs

Interview Tips

  • Tell the truth
  • The most important point to prove is that you have strong ties to your home country and that you plan to return to your home country after graduation
  • Answer each question confidently and completely, but do not give more information than asked for
  • Know the details of your program of study at Saint Mary’s College – dates, scholarship information, major of study, athletic program, post-graduation plans, etc.
  • Be able to clearly state why you want to study at Saint Mary’s College and/or in the U.S.
  • Center each response around studying in the U.S., gaining valuable knowledge and cultural experience, and then returning to your home country to apply what you have learned
  • Demonstrate that you are serious about being a student in the U.S.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Why do you want to study in the U.S.? 
  • Why do you want to study at Saint Mary’s College?
  • Why do you want to study that major?
  • How are you planning to fund your expenses while you are studying in the U.S.?
  • Who do you know in the U.S.?
  • What are you going to do after you graduate?