F1 Visa Interview: How to prepare for US student visa interview?

    Updated on: 19 May 2023

    If you're aspiring to study in the United States, obtaining a student visa is a crucial step. The moment you hear those words, "Your US student visa has been approved" brings a sense of excitement and anticipation. Now, there's great news for international students planning to study in the US, you can apply for the F-1 student visa up to 365 days before your academic term begins. This significant update allows for a more extended timeframe to complete the visa application process.

    In particular, if you're an Indian student, there's even better news. US authorities have acknowledged the significant number of Indian students choosing to study in the US and plans to increase student visa appointments for Indian students by at least 30 percent this summer. As the visa appointment slots are expected to open in the third week of May, now is the perfect time to equip yourself with essential knowledge about the F1 visa interview and prepare effectively. Understanding the interview process and having a few preparation tips up your sleeve will empower you to navigate through the visa application journey with ease.

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    Types of Visa for USA

    There are majorly three types of visas for US, they are -

    • F1 Student Visa - If you are a student who intends to study in the United States for a full-time program then you will need to obtain an F1 visa. This applies to both undergraduate and graduate programs such as pursuing an MS in US or an MBA in US. Starting from May 30, 2023, the fees for F1 student visas will be increased from USD 160 to USD 185.
    • J1 Exchange Visitor Visa - The J-1 exchange visitor visa is designed for individuals such as students, visiting scholars, or lecturers who are participating in an exchange program. For instance, Fulbright scholars and many other students from Indian universities who are traveling to the United States for short-term study abroad programs.
    • M-1 Vocational / Non-Academic Student Visa - The M1 visa is a category of student visa that is specifically intended for those attending vocational or technical schools. Although the application for both F1 and M1 visas is similar, the key difference is that M1 visas are time-stamped upon entry and students are not permitted to exceed their authorized stay period


    Before digging into preparation tips for the F1 visa interview, it is important to grasp the general eligibility requirements and application process for obtaining an F1 visa. Let's explore these aspects to ensure a comprehensive understanding before proceeding further.

    Eligibility for F1 student visa to study in USA

    There are some eligibility requirements that you will need to meet to get an interview slot and clear the same with ease. The eligibility requirements that you would need to keep in mind are -

    1. The students should have a nationality other than American that is they should be foreign natives.
    2. Must have admission letter/offer approved by the university as it forms the very basis of the visa.
    3. Financial proof that can show you will be able to complete and fund your education.
    4. Health Insurance and Medicare backups.


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    How to Apply for F1 student visa to study in USA?

    This is where most people get confused as there are steps that they are not able to understand and ultimately leading to challenges in the process. All the steps below are mentioned should be carefully followed -

    • Step 1: Get your I-20 from your universityI-20 is a form that is issued by your university that act as additional proof that you are legally enrolled in a program of study in the United States. You will need it when you are applying for F1 student visa, as this will have information like the student's personal details, program start and end dates, and estimated expenses.
    • Step 2: Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee: SEVIS tracks and monitors nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors. Once you have received I-20 from your university, then you can go online and pay SEVIS I-901 fee. The price would be around USD 350 for F1 student visa.
    • Step 3: Fill out the DS-160 form online: You will need to go online and fill out the DS-160 form. This will contain your basic information which is required by the US government to understand what is the purpose of your visit (study in this context) and whether it is safe for them to let you enter the country or not.
    • Step 4: Make an OFC Appointment: The applicant must book an OFC appointment to submit important documents and biometric data for visa processing. Applicants give their biometrics such as fingerprints and visa photos before their visa interview at the visa application centers(VAC).
    • Step 5: Make an appointment for your visa interview: Contact your nearest US embassy or consulate (preferably, the one you listed on your online application i.e. DS-160) to organize your visa interview after you’ve filed form DS-160.
    • Step 6: Make payment for your visa application fee: After that, pay the application fee of USD 185. This charge is the same regardless of where you apply or where you are from. It is important to note that the exact date you pay this charge will differ based on your embassy.
    • Step 7: Attend your visa interview: The interview is the final major step in the visa application process. This interview will determine whether or not you are granted a student visa in the United States.


    Important Update: Applications window for US student visa to open 1 year before the start of the academic program. Click here to read more about it.

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    Document required for F1 visa interview

    Although a majority of the documents have been covered in the process above, let’s summarise all the documents that are required in the F1 student visa application.

    • Valid passport
    • Recent photographs according to the format and dimensions mentioned on the visa website.
    • Payment proof of 185 USD visa application fees.
    • I-20 form or the certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status.
    • DS-160 form or the non-immigrant visa electronic application form
    • For male candidates, in the age group of 16-45 years, the DS-157 form needs to be filled

    Read more about: Documents required for US student visa

    How to prepare for F1 visa interview?

    Now that you have applied for F1 visa interview and booked your slot, you will be soon going for the same. These preparation tips may be helpful for you in knowing about the whole interview scenario and how can you clear it in one go.

    F1 visa interview questions and answers

    During the F-1 visa interview, the interviewer will assess your preparedness for the academic program and eligibility. Personal and career-related inquiries will be made regarding your educational background, program selection, career objectives, finances, and sponsorship. It is advisable to arrive at the interview venue ahead of time with all the required documents. Researching potential interview questions in advance can help prepare for the interview. While the documents serve as evidence to support your statements, it's important to only present them when requested.

    Having an idea of what does a visa officer look for in US student visa interviews can help you to be more confident and prepared. Questions are generally asked on:

    • Academic qualification
    • Financial status
    • Personal questions
    • Future plans and job prospects


    Some example questions are as follows -

    • Which all universities did you apply to (both admits and rejects)?
    • Why did you choose this particular school/program?
    • How are you funding your education in the US?
    • Why are you going to the US? What will you specialize in for your degree? What will be your major?
    • What is your next move after completing the course? Will you come back to India?


    Read more about: F1 Visa Interview Questions with Tips

    Are you seeking additional assistance with more questions similar to these and looking for tips and advice on how to effectively answer F1 visa interview questions?,  you can connect with other international students that have cleared F1 visa interview to learn from their experiences via GyanDhan’s discussion forum.

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    Mistakes to avoid at your F1 visa interview

    There are several pitfalls that you should be aware of so that they do not cause any difficulty during the interview. Some of the common pitfalls that you need to be careful of are -

    1. Not reaching on time - it is very important for you to reach on time. There are a number of candidates who get rejected not because of something they lack, but simply because they didn't turn up to the interview at all or they turned up late. Make sure this doesn't happen to you. Set alarms weeks in advance, inform your friends/family members to call you up before the day and inform, or leave notes on the refrigerator.
    2. Forgetting important documents - keep a ready checklist of documents before you leave for your interview. You don't want to reach the venue and notice that you have forgotten to keep one of the important documents like the class 12th certificate. It will only create unnecessary hassles for you and even if you manage to solve it, you may lose your confidence in all the hurriedness. So check and crosscheck well in advance, if you have all the mandatory original and xerox copies.
    3. Lying during the interview - the consequences of lying could be permanent ineligibility for a US visa or a permanent record, which will influence your subsequent attempts to apply for the visa. So, make sure all the documents that you produce are completely unadulterated and true. Also, whatever claims you make in the interview should be completely true and not a work of fiction. Also, in case there are any gaps in your curriculum then make sure you are prepared with a justified reason for that, as this may be asked by the interviewer.
    4. No clear idea about education funding - one common thing that is checked and often asked during the interview is how you are funding your studies in USA. The cost to study in USA is high and the interviewer needs to make sure that you have sufficient funds and sources to fund your studies before approving your visa. Also, remember that financial documents are very important in this F1 student visa process and therefore if you need any help related to getting an education loan, start by checking your education loan eligibility with GyanDhan now.
    5. Inadequate knowledge of university and course choice - it is very necessary that you have proper knowledge about the university that you have been admitted to and the course that you have chosen as this will help you answer the interviewer's questions like “Why are you going to this US University?” or “Why do you think this course will benefit you in future?”. Be confident and polite while conversating and also take care that no matter what questions are asked, you have to be truthful about everything as lying will make things worse.


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    Now that you have all the required information about F1 student visa for the USA, you will be able to better prepare yourself for the whole process. The visa process can be time-consuming and thus it is advised to start your visa process at the earliest. To help you with F1 visa, Gyandhan has partnered with the team of best counsellors to help students prepare for their interviews. So, what are you waiting for, start your visa counselling service now!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can we change the I-20 after the F1 visa slot has been booked?

    Yes, you can change the I-20 after you have booked your visa slot but have not still attended the interview. all you need to do is transfer the SEVIS from University A to University B. You do not need to pay the SEVIS fee again for the new university. Once you have a new SEVIS number then you would have to fill out a new DS-160 form for your new university. When both of these are done then you are required to just log in to your account on the CGI Federal website and change your DS -160 confirmation number and SEVIS ID. You will not have to pay the visa fee again. To know about the process in detail click here!

    I have heard that accessories are not allowed in F1 visa interview, is it true?

    Too much jewelry may distract your interviewer and can be inappropriate given the formal nature of the interview. Limit your choices to simple accessories like watches and more.

    What should you wear to the F1 visa interview?

    It's recommended to wear professional attire for F-1 student visa interviews, such as dress shirts, ties, suits, pantsuits, and jackets. These formal clothing options are always considered appropriate.

    When are the visa slots available for fall 2023 intakes?

    US student visa slots will be open for Indian students in mid-May. This will be the first batch of appointment for the upcoming fall 2023 intake.


    First published date: 18 May 2023

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About author

Mansi Bisht
Meet Mansi, an expert in the field of study abroad with half a decade of experience in content management and finance. Her background in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) has equipped her with skills to scale the business to greater heights.

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