When it comes to securing a visa to the U.S., honesty is the best policy. It is genuine documentation that is the passport to the land of opportunities, student aspirants to the U.S. were told during a discussion on ‘Student visas to USA' at Hyderabad on Thursday.

“Do not under any circumstances bring fake documents to the U.S. Consulate. Fake documents can make you permanently ineligible for a visa to the U.S.,” said Marisa Mac Isaac, Vice-Consul, US Consulate General, Hyderabad.

“This is a very horrible thing for your career. Being permanently ineligible for a U.S. visa has serious implications for your future,” she said, narrating an instance of software professional who could not work onsite on behalf of his company, an MNC, as he was caught with fake documentation when he was a student.

“Many people were successful because they were able to answer the questions honestly,” she emphasised.

“All we want you to do is tell the truth when you come for the visa interview.” Applicants should be able to explain to the visa officer how they would fund their expenses (both tuition and living) during the first year of study in the U.S.

“Taking a student loan is perfectly okay to finance your education. Please don't be shy to show your loan,” Ms. Isaac said.

Neither is it necessary to liquidate one's assets (land, gold etc.). Can a relative living abroad sponsor our education, queried a student. “Yes. We would be very happy if family helps each other out,” Ms. Isaac replied.

Students need to take with them five documents for the visa interview viz., printed appointment letter, visa application forms (DS-160 and I-20), the SEVIS payment receipt, one recent photograph and original HDFC Bank fee receipt barcode stickers.

Applicants should also demonstrate to the officer that he/she is a credible and qualified student and intends to return to India.

“The Immigration and Nationality Act requires officers to assume that applicants intend to immigrate to the U.S. If you cannot convince the officer otherwise, he/she cannot issue a visa,” she said.

However, “I understand that most of you want to work after your studies. That is totally okay with us. Indians are great workers,” she remarked, “But at the same time we hope you will return to India at some point of time.”

In this regard, applicants should establish their financial, social and familial ties to India during the visa interview.

Students having backlogs or those who have been rejected during earlier visa interviews should convince the visa officer that he/she has the necessary aptitude to succeed after an education in the USA. A strongly-motivated personality who is clear about his/her goals and has clarity of thought has a greater chance of securing a visa, she explained. “Confidence is the key.” And confidence brings with it strong body language.

She reminded students that a visa does not necessarily permit one to enter into America but is simply a permission to legally enter into the US.

“The customs/immigration personnel at the port of entry decide if one can enter the country.”

Application fee and VFS fees need to be paid at designated HDFC banks. Students may fill out the DS-160 online application at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/. More information can be had from http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1270.html, http://hyderabad.usconsulate.gov, www.vfs-usa.co.in, http://www.ice.gov/sevis/.

YOGENDRA KALAVALAPALLI