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How to prepare for a visa interview

Need help with your visa interview preparation? This article offers visa interview tips and guidelines for students who are planning to visit the visa office.

Ashwin Sriram
Visa Interview

The visa interview is all about assessing you, and gaining clarity on all the documents you have already submitted to the visa office.

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You marked the date on your calendar and voila — you thought you were all set. Yet you seem to be on the edge as you inevitably move closer and closer to the circled date. A big yes, we are indeed talking about none other than your first visa interview!

Being a bundle of nerves won’t help you get anywhere and you know it as well. You need to prep yourself for the D-Day rather than fear it pointlessly. Here are some useful tips we thought would help you out here…

Being confident, honest and polite could make a world of difference in your interview. Be ready to face any questions the visa officer may throw at you, and you are already half way there to being ready.

The visa office wants to know if you plan on staying abroad and working after you are done with your studies. Prepare all your points to convince them that no, you are heading there only to complete your studies. But hey, in case your university has promised you a work permit post graduation, you may let your visa officer know.

For Starters

Generally, the interview process is never long, half-an-hour at the most, and the questions are very specific to the course and student. Rarely would it sway beyond the information you’ve already submitted as part of your visa process.

What the Interviewer Wants!

You have to understand what it is that the interviewer wants from you:

  • Your motivation and your capability of living up to the demands of the course, country’s laws and culture.
  • Your financial capability to manage all expenses during your study.

So basically, the interview is all about assessing you, and gaining clarity on all the documents you have already submitted to them. In short, they want to see why you should be granted a visa.

Honest Responses

A few pointers…

  • First and most important tip: Get your facts straight! Don’t exaggerate or lie about anything during the course of your interview. Remember, they already have all your educational and financial documents, and the consular officer is trained to spot any hint of lies.
  • Know what to say when the interviewer asks you probing questions like:
    - Why did you choose this destination?
    - Why not study in India?
  • Consular officers are fond of asking 'What if...' type questions to test your motivations. Be prepared to answer them. Below are some examples of such questions:
    - What if someone offers you a job in the US after your studies?
    - What if someone offers you a partnership in his business?
  • Do the groundwork and look into the university you are applying at. Look closely into the course you’ve chosen and ask yourself if your choice is in line with your educational goals.
  • The interviewer may wish to know your reasons for choosing a specific program and university, and when he pops out that question you must be able to answer it hesitation-free.
  • You may have to face questions concerning your financial status; so look into your bank balance and be sure of your financial plan. If your parents are retired, or you lack sufficient funding, then the interviewer may ask you to explain how you plan to fund yourself.
  • Look presentable, dress smart and approach the interview calmly. Don’t go there prepared to recite memorised answers. They don’t want a parrot. They are looking to see if you are clear with your objectives.
  • Work on the simple etiquettes of conversation. Be polite and courteous in your response. Listen carefully to the questions and wait for your turn to answer. A little patience and good manners goes a long way.
  • Be confident when meeting the visa officer; don’t fidget around the desk or look too nervous. Also, don’t pick an argument with the officer during your interview.

Testing Phase

If language is not your strong point then brush up on your grammar and speaking skills. You must convince the visa officer that you are competent enough in English to study in a foreign country.

Items You Need!

If you are asked to bring any documents for the interview, then ensure you have them all sorted before you get there. You may be asked to bring a passport, various forms, passport-size photos, test scores, educational certificates, transcripts, bank statements and other related documents.

You may have some original documents, like your birth certificate, printed in Tamil or Hindi; get them translated to English and notarized for the visa office.

Being paperwork-ready and getting there ahead of time should ease your mind to a fair extent on the day of the interview.

The Ultimate Decider

We realise that everything you have completed up until this point is being put on the line during this interview, but don’t feel pressured or fazed by that. You just need to approach it with a calm demeanor, and again, be confident with your answers. Don’t take the interview too lightly either. The key to clearing the interview is to present yourself well and be sincere with your answers.

Have any more tips on how to prepare for a visa interview? Feel free to drop in a line or two; we would love to hear from you!

Worried about the visa interview?

Lavanya Madhanraj Lavanya Madhanraj,
Study abroad expert.
Our advisors conduct mock interviews to boost your confidence. Request a call back or call us now on 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) for guidance.