Visa interviews can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience. To help make the process smoother, it's important to take certain steps to prepare for a successful visa interview. By remembering these 8 tips, you'll have a greater chance of being granted the visa you are applying for.
Overview of the US Visa Interview Process
While the initial application for a visa to the United States may be easy, the stress, waiting, and additional steps in the process may seem daunting to many people. An applicant’s entire process typically ends with a formal interview at a consulate or embassy.
During this time, one or more officials will pose both simple and complex questions to the interviewee to determine the latter’s eligibility for a visa. This can be the most harrowing part of the process for many people.
However, there are several things you can do to keep calm and improve your chances of getting the document. We can take you through some major advantages of advanced preparation and list some specific tips to help you.
Benefits of Being Prepared
You may already know some ways to prepare for things like a job interview. There are some commonalities between this type of interview and a visa approval one, but you must approach this interview differently than the one you have for employment.
Indeed, different documents are necessary for the visa interview, and the officer board may ask questions that can seem far more personal than any you would get in a job setting. This is because there are different parameters the interviewers will try to test to assess your suitability to enter and stay in the country.
Preparing yourself for this process will help you seem more confident and decisive and help you give the panel a sense that you have a firm plan in place to either complete your stay or integrate more fully into society.
8 Tips for a Successful US Visa Interview
Some of the ways you can help yourself succeed in the interview process might be familiar to you. Still, we’ll address those here as part of a refresher that might provide you with some insights into how the officials at the consulate or embassy may look at you.
Your presentation of yourself can have a big impact on whether the government decides that you deserve a valid visa, and this presentation includes both your general appearance, manners, and ways of speaking.
1. Dress Professionally
This is one of the points that is similar to something you would do for a job interview. Although we recommend a nice suit or equivalent outfit, it may not be necessary here. Indeed, some applicants may need access to this clothing type.
Still, dressing in what you might consider your best clothes is a good idea. Make sure they are clean, presentable, and stand apart from whatever one might consider casual or everyday garments.
2. Be Respectful and Positive
Treat the interviewer or panel as you would any authority for a job or other interview. Listen to how everyone might introduce themselves to you. Once you know this, you can address them directly by these names or titles. Reciprocate a handshake if they offer any to you, and speak in a calm, measured tone.
While the tone of voice can be important in a visa application interview, so is the mood you intend to bring to the table. As stressful as the situation can be, keep your answers positive. Focus as much as you can on the positive aspects you can bring to the country, and talk up the positive things you intend to put into or get out of your experience in the US.
The government does not award visas to all applicants, and ensuring you come across as a net benefit to the society can help your chances of approval.
3. Have a Clear Understanding of Your Career Goals
In these terms, be prepared to talk about your training plan with your US host employer and your career plans when you return to your home country.Whatever the case, you can be certain that the embassy will ask you about these details. Even though you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, the government will still assume that you intend to take up residency until you prove you don’t have this intention.
This means that it is vitally important to map out your goals as a temporary trainee. Even if you plan to remain in the country for a period of 12 or 18 months, depending on the length of your program, be sure to explain to the government all of the major benchmarks you’ll have from start to finish.
Put emphasis on ‘training’ and ‘gaining knowledge after the study’; never bring up certain words like ‘working’, ‘job’, etc.
Remember that the reason you are visiting the United States is to participate in an exchange program and that your stay will be temporary. If asked why you choose to participate in the program, give the same reasons that you gave us:
• Professional development – explain how you will use your experience in the United States to further your career in your home country
• Make sure you know each rotation including the length and your duties and responsibilities. This can be found in your offer letter.
• Talk about your internship/training program. Explain what you know about the company where you will be training and your reasons for choosing this company
• Cultural Exchange – gives you an extremely valuable opportunity to experience the United States and their way of life
One of the government’s major concerns in awarding visas has to do with how applicants will support themselves and contribute to society.
4. Create a List of Documents to Bring With You
Apart from standard visa documents that everyone is required to bring to the interview, J1 visa applicants will usually need to show financial documents and additional Evidence showing ties to your home country. This can include; car title, insurance, house deed, bank account, family & friends photos, job offer after the completion of program, anything showing that you are established in your country.
5. Be Prepared to Explain Your Source of Income
As we’ve touched on, one major sticking point for US officials is how the visa holder will support themselves. For trainees, DS 7002 form shows the remuneration per each phase of training.
6. Have a Valid Bank Statement on Hand
Having proof of your earnings in the USA is one thing, but a bank statement helps to show your general financial eligibility as well. The interviewer will want to see that you have some savings and other capital that you can use to get started supporting yourself right away. We advise you to have at least USD 2000 in your bank account.
Please ensure this is an original bank statement or similar document. Although you can bring a copy, there is a risk that the official may not believe the document is genuine.
7. Consider Time Pressure During the Interview
Typically, consulate interviews for visa applications will be much shorter than other kinds of interviews. Therefore, it is essential to budget your time appropriately. Ensure any supporting documents you bring are concise and easy for the interviewer to read. Should your documents be too long for the agent to make any sense of them in short order, you may diminish your chances of approval.
Read also: 8 Statements That Will Make An Employer Hire You.
8. Answer Common Questions Accurately and Honestly
Here is the part where confidence can play a key role in your success. Having an air of certainty means that you may be more able to answer the interviewer’s questions to their satisfaction. You can prepare for some of the most common ones in advance.
Given the short length of the interview, ensure that your answers get straight to the point of the questions. Above all, don’t give any vague answers that the interviewer could interpret as misleading. If you know how and why you’ll stay in the country, you already have the information you need to assure the embassy that you are a good fit.
Read also: Tips on How to Ace Your Next Interview.
Check out our dedicated page for J-1 Visa Bridge USA.
As intimidating as it seems to go through this interview process, take a deep breath and realize that the outcome is down to the interviewer's discretion. However, the tips we’ve provided above can certainly increase your odds of success, and any of them could decide how you look as an eligible candidate.
Because you should have ample lead time between filling out your initial application and your interview, we recommend keeping a list of these tips you can check off as you complete the requirements.
Make sure you check the HRC International fees, where we are providing with you all the needed information for Visa program and insurance fees, our J-1 Management Training USA, our J-1 Teacher Program USA, J-1 fees and refund policy, and other valuable info.
Usually, consulate officers can ask questions such as:
Q: Why do you choose to go to the United States?
A: Always answer logically and state reasons such as to improve English skills or learn about the hospitality in the USA. Do not give vague answers such as because I like the country especially if you have not been there before.
Q: What did you do before?
A: Always be honest and tell the truth as the consulate could easily do a background check on you if you do not sound or look trustworthy.
Q: What are you going to do in the States?
A: Put emphasis on “training” and “gaining knowledge after the study”; never bring up words like “working” or “job”, etc. If you have prepared answers to those questions, don’t show them that you are reciting from memory.