It was quite an overwhelming experience when I decided to apply for my F1 visa. Once I had completed my undergraduate degree, I decided that I need a different kind of academic exposure, something not entirely theoretical, and so I decided to study outside India.
The first step was to take the relevant competitive exam, in my case the TOEFL. A majority of my friends had told me that the TOEFL and the IELTS were “easy”. God knows their definition of "easy". However, it was not as tortuous as the CBSE board exams.
So I prepared for the test using the internet and library books like everybody else and booked a test date. It was not a frightening experience; however, the reading comprehension part of the test required a lot of attention to detail.
So if you are taking these academic tests, ensure you prepare well for the reading session. The vocabulary, the hidden answers, the time limit, and the fear of not finishing it might add to the existing pressure; so beware.
The results were soon published and I got fairly good grades. Below are a few key aspects to help you prepare for the test.
- Prepare using the right materials.
- Be confident during the speaking sessions.
- Be attentive during the reading, writing and listening sessions.
Once I got the results, it was time for me to apply to the University I wanted to study in; something which wasn’t easy given the lack of efficient websites and guidance back then.
Nevertheless, I went through with it and received my offer letter. I was happy — perhaps prematurely, not knowing that the most difficult part was yet to come: the visa processing.
Although I had a good 2 months left for my course to begin, my peers forced me to apply immediately after the admission process, and they were right to have done so. I went to a consultant for help.
The consultant gave me a checklist of the required documents and organised it for me, which was extremely helpful. I am not saying an individual can’t do it, but I needed to make sure I had everything in place.
It came to my knowledge that only 65 per cent of the students who had applied for students visa got their visas in the year 2010. In order to apply for an F1 Visa, students should have received a Form I-20 from SEVP certified schools in the USA. So remember to ask your University to e-mail it or post it to you as soon as you get your offer letter.
Also, pay the application fee and the VFS service charge at an HDFC bank or any other bank that is specified.
Below is a checklist of items to note when applying for a visa.
- Organise your documents along with the academic test results.
- Make sure the consultant you are approaching is reliable and knowledgeable.
- Be aware of the processing times and the time available until you join the University.
- Ask for the Form I-20 from SEVP certified schools in the USA.
Finally, the visa interview was scheduled and I was extremely nervous about it, of course.
Despite the hype about how grumpy and strict they were supposed to be, everybody at the US Consulate was friendly and warm. Maybe it was my lucky day!
It was my turn for the interview and I told myself that no matter how nervous I was, I should always have a smile on my face. And trust me, it helped. Do dress smart and neat, the interviewers don’t generally like sneakers and hoodies.
The interview lasted for around 7 minutes and the interviewer asked basic questions like, “Why did you choose this University?"; "When are you planning to come back to India?"; "Why didn’t you choose the top 5 Universities instead?" and so on. These are simple questions to answer if you’re confident and genuine with your answers.
Ten tips for the visa interview:
- Dress smart. Although you don’t have to suit up, it is always recommended to look neat and presentable.
- Organise your files in a neat folder with clear markings to identify the documents when the officer asks for it.
- Take passport-size photos with you.
- No backpacks and cell phones are allowed inside the consulate. Carry things that are absolutely necessary, like your documents.
- The interview does not take place in a separate room, like I thought it would. It takes place in a common room with other interviews happening simultaneously. Do not panic.
- Do not have preconceived notions about your interview officer. Have an open mind and try not to think too much about the interview or the person.
- It is always good to talk to a few other people while you are waiting in the queue. It lightens your heart and makes you less nervous.
- Don't speak too softly. Be loud enough while speaking. This would make you come across as being confident.
- You will immediately know if your visa is approved.
- Finally, keep your answers straight and up to the point. Don't drag on with your words.
Source - happyschoolsblog
Image - flowers-florist-united-states.com