Indian students who want to go abroad to study need to acquire a visa to the country they are heading out to. Each country has its own parameters based on which they decide if the student is suitable for a visa.
Most visas allow a student to do a full time course, and some countries allow the student to stay on to work for a while after finishing their studies.
The visa interview takes place at the visa office of the destination country. You need to check if there is a visa office located in the city you reside.
A visa interview can be best described as a representative of a different country trying to verify whatever you have written in your application forms and other supporting documents and if your intentions are true. This verification is done by asking a couple of questions and going over your documents. The entire process should not take more than a few minutes.
As a student you are there to accomplish two things:
1. Convince the official that your interest to do the course is genuine.
2. Convince them that you are not going abroad for immigration purposes and that you are going to come back after studies.
Now that we know what IS a visa interview, let’s also understand WHAT ITS NOT!
- It is not a job interview
- It is not an exam
- It is not rocket science
What do you need to succeed in a visa interview?
By default, any visa bureau assumes you are applying for immigration purpose and hence you need to prove them wrong, and they are 'looking' for the above reasons to ‘give’ you a visa. This has been stated many times by consulate heads themselves in several media interviews published in the past.
So as a candidate, what are the things you need to do to succeed at the interview?
1. Fill out the application forms truthfully and correctly.
2. Have all other supporting documents organized. These could be TOEFL / GRE score sheets, UG/PG mark sheets, college admission letter, I20, passport, approved education loan (approved, and not provisional!) or letters of sponsorship, proof of your sponsor’s financial status, etc.
3. Know which ones are official documents that visa officers accept, and which ones are supporting documents. Eg: An auditor’s report is not an official document. You get it prepared only for your own understanding of your (or parents’) financial standing. When you are asked who is going to sponsor your studies, you show the bank’s loan approval papers or a letter from your sponsor with their bank statement.
4. Expect the questions but don’t prepare the answers. Most Indian students tend to, out of sheer nervousness and fear, prepare for the interview by rehearsing or memorising the answers over and over again. Visa officers DO NOT want candidates to parrot the answers. They do not want to test your conversation skills or American accent. All they want is to get some truthful answers about your intentions, and move on. When you only expect the questions, you will keep the relevant points in your mind, and convey them in your own style and words.
5. Most questions will be about your choice of university, course, your sponsor and your future plans. But if the visa officer asks you something a little out of the blue, do not panic. Most of us love to stick to the syllabus, but again this is NOT A TEST. So don’t treat it like one. Use your presence of mind to get through.
Some quick tips that will help you during a visa interview:
- Stay calm and relaxed
- Be confident. This is a survival skill you need to equip yourself with if you are heading out to new country to live and study, and this is a good time to start practising it.
- Learn to punctuate your conversation with these very important words: Hello / Hi; how are you; thank you; and sorry.
- Honesty works, always.
What do you do if you get rejected?
If you do for some reason get rejected for a visa, remember that it’s not the end of the world. You can always reapply and get through. Hundreds of students have gone through it before you.
All the best!