The COVID pandemic has forced everyone to reassess their plans, especially those who plan to go abroad. This includes students who intend to study in the United States, which is a decision that will affect their lives in the long term. Meanwhile, it might be difficult to think about the future in these volatile times!
If you’re one of such students, you might be wondering if you can even go ahead with your plans. In this article, we’ll try to help you be more informed in terms of US student visa applications in 2022.
Related to the pandemic, can I get a visa?
The pandemic has put restrictions on the works of some visa application centers, so you may find that they have fewer open appointments for applicants. While in some countries, the US plans to waive in-person interviews to make student visa applications easier. Make sure to keep up with the latest information from your local US embassy and/or consulate!
Besides the limited workload of the application centers, there’s still the issue of whether you will be issued a visa, which depends on when you enrolled in a US institution and whether your program is held remotely or in person.
If you were enrolled before March 9th, 2020, if you fulfill all requirements, you can get a visa and enter the US, even if your program is currently fully online.
If you’re a new student and your program demands even just hybrid teaching, then you can get a visa and entrance to the US, granted that you fulfill all requirements. But if your program is fully online, then it’s recommended that you do not travel to the US, therefore you might not be granted a visa.
This information may be updated regularly, so keep in touch with your US institution and consulate!
Now that you know to apply for a visa, you should start as early as possible to make sure your plans get completed on time. Applying for US student visas, in general, can be a tough process due to its requirements. But now, with the pandemic in the background and the limited workload of visa centers, starting early is vital in making sure you get your appointment on time.
This is also important in case you run into any problems: you would have more time to fix them!
Be thorough with your documents
Applying for a visa is a huge responsibility that mirrors how big of a deal moving abroad to study is! So be responsible with your documents. Make sure all your forms are filled out correctly: you wouldn’t want to be denied a chance of high-quality education just because of a silly mistake!
Another small detail that some people tend to skip over is the visa application photo, which has specific requirements. Make sure your visa picture fulfills all the parameters!
Secure your funding
It might be logical that you must have enough funding before you move abroad and study, but this tip is worth mentioning anyway. One of the top reasons US student visa applications get rejected is because the applicant cannot prove that they have enough funds to finance their study in the US. Roughly speaking, this is needed so that you will be able to focus on your studies.
There is no fixed amount of how much money you need to have in your (or your parents’) bank account to prove that you are financially able to study in the US. However, logically it must be more than enough to cover the amount stated in your I-20 (confirmation of enrollment) form.
In the visa interview, you need to convince the consular officer that you fulfill all the requirements, including the subtler ones, of the US student visa. Here are some tips:
Confirm ties to your home country
Applicants of nonimmigrant visas (including student visas) are seen as potential immigrants until they prove otherwise. Therefore, you must prove that you intend to return to your home country after you finish your studies in the US. This proof can be family ties, job offers, inheritance, all the things that prove that staying in your home country is more beneficial than starting a life in the US.
This part is often trickier for people from developing countries and/or countries where a lot of its diaspora has become immigrants after their studies in the US. Usually, these people are more likely to be asked whether they have a job offer coming after their US studies.
If you’re the main breadwinner of your family and leaving dependents behind, be ready to answer how your dependents are going to support themselves if you leave. If this implies that you will be sending money you earn in the US (which may mean that you’re not focusing on your studies), chances are your visa is going to be denied. It is important to plan well in this regard.
Have clear supplemental documentations
To prove your eligibility for a visa, you may need to show supplemental documents. Make sure these documents are clear and their purpose can be identified with a glance.
Speak articulate, concise English
It’s an interview at an American consulate, so be ready to speak in English! Also, consular officers may have other applicants to interview, so make sure you make your points clearly and concisely. Don’t save the best for last!
Get your ambitions straight
You’re applying to study in the US, so you will need to show that you’re not just there to work during or after your studies. Working while you’re enrolled in a US institution is allowed, but this is incidental to your main purpose.
Show how much you intend to focus on your study program in the US! How well does it fit your career plans? How will this program improve your life? Show that you’re genuinely in it for the knowledge.
What if you get denied?
Maintain a positive attitude: do not argue with the consular officer. Calmly ask why you’re being denied a visa and get the reason in writing. Ask the consular officer for suggestions on which supplemental documents to bring to overcome the denial.