The U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, in association with Chennai Central@The Hindu and The Hindu hosted the first-ever joint Facebook wall chat on student visas on March 7. U.S. Consular Chief Nick Manring answered questions from Indian students. We publish the second and concluding part of the Q and A.

Amongst which of these factors do you look at while giving a visa: 1. Financial stability; 2. Individual Profile; 3. University reputation; 4. Motto of going there (to settle in the U.S.). In what exact manner would you expect these to be? Please reorder with small explanations.

A: Each applicant and each interview is going to be different but here are the general factors during a student visa interview: your educational plan (and how your study in the U.S. will fit in to that); your ability to complete your proposed course of study in the U.S.; and your ability to pay for the course of study in the U.S. We welcome students at all levels of university education. There are thousands of universities in the U.S. which accept foreign students and our visa decisions are independent of schools’ reputations.

I came across the “120 days period or after” criteria to attend VI in the dept site. I like to know is it okay to attend much earlier because I can quit my current job and start my travel plan well in advance. Few forums have mentioned that I can attend but will get my visa only after the mentioned 120 days period which is fine with me if I know the accept/reject decision during interview itself. Can you please give me more clarity on that?

A: Good question about visa rejections. Although the vast majority of visa applicants receive their visas and go on to study in the U.S., some don’t. The main reasons for not getting the visa include the inability to finance the education; the inability to convince the interviewing officer that they will be able to complete their course of studies; and the inability to explain their educational goals and plans. It is important to be able to explain your own story in your own words, not say something that is or sounds scripted.

Is there any restriction on how early I can apply for F1 Visa? Also, please let me know how early it will be issued if I qualify?

A: You cannot apply more than 120 days before the start date of the course of study and you cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 days before your program starts. Students who have been accepted into U.S. universities typically apply for their F-1 visas about 3 months before their programs begin to allow sufficient time for processing. You will need an approved I-20 form from the university that has accepted you, proof that you have paid your SEVIS fee, your valid passport, and a copy of your visa application form. Please also bring your mark (grades) sheets and test scores, in case the visa officer asks to view them. Students, who are issued visas, typically receive them within a week.

Hello Sir, My visa got rejected 4 times for the U.S. since I have 55 backlogs. My qualification is B.E, CSE. I have a total work experience of two years in a Multi National Company. Will I get a visa now if I attend an interview? Also, my TOEFL score has expired and one university has accepted to defer my admission. If i get the I20 from that university, will I be able to get the U.S. visa even if the TOEFL score has expired? Please let me know, because pursuing MS in the U.S. is my dream?

A: Unfortunately, we cannot speak about your specific circumstances. However, your TOEFL is not a requirement to obtain a U.S. visa. If the university has accepted you based on your expired TOEFL score and issues you a current I-20, you are eligible to apply for a student visa. There are no guarantees you will receive a visa, but the process is quite simple: you will need to explain to the visa officer why you plan to study in the U.S., and how you intend to pay for your studies. The visa officer will be able to see your prior rejections, so you may need to explain your academic record and why you believe you are a credible student who plans to study at a U.S. university.

My USA visa was rejected 4 times. My profile is B.E CSE 7.08 CGPA (6 backlogs no CS subjects). I applied to University of Houston Clear Lake for MS Software Engineering. The visa officer told me to rewrite GRE and score good marks. My question is if I rewrite GRE and score good marks will I be able to get a visa if I go the next time?

A: Please understand there is no magic formula for visa issuance. An improved GRE score does not guarantee a visa issuance, but it could help. Student visa applicants need to show they are credible students who plan to hit the books in the U.S. and study, and that they have the financial resources to pay for their study. For more information about applying for a student visa, please visit www.ustraveldocs.com/in.

If the parents and siblings of a student are settled in India with good immovable assets like land and house, can it be a sufficient reason to prove that the student has strong roots to come back to India?

A: For student visa applicants, the main issues are: does the student really plan to study in the U.S. and does he or she have the financial resources to pay for the study. Financial resources can include help from family, education loans and scholarships. Student applicants will need to show the visa officer they are serious about studying in the U.S. Family ties in India are more important for a visitor visa than a student visa. Also, the U.S. Indian Educational Foundation has an office here at the Consulate and can help students find financial aid for U.S. colleges and universities. Their website is www.usief.org.in.

Is it necessary to show a certain minimum bank balance when applying for visa?

A: Student visa applicants need to be able to show they have the financial resources to be able to pay for their studies in the United States. Financial resources can include help from family, personal savings, education loans, scholarships, or other assets. Visa officers may not look at documents applicants bring with them to the visa interview but you may be asked to summarize your financial situation orally. For more information on applying for a student visa, visit www.ustraveldocs.com/in.

If you have questions before the next chat, you can visit: www.usief.org.in and www.ustraveldocs.com/in for more information on studying in the U.S. Also be sure to ‘Like’ facebook.com/chennai.consulate, facebook.com/thehindu, and facebook.com/chennaicentral.

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