Visa Tips and Guidance
Many students get very nervous about applying for a visa at the US Embassy / Consulate. To improve your chances of success with your visa application, we recommend that you read through the tips and suggestions listed below. Although we cannot guarantee that you will be approved for your visa, the advice will help you better prepare for your interview, and bring you much closer to your goal of studying at Seattle Central.
Review your documents
Check through all of your documents very carefully (application form, I-20 form, financial support documents, and additional materials you plan to present to the visa officer).
- Make sure all the information is clear, accurate and complete. If someone else completed the visa application for you, make sure that you read through it and understand what information is given.
- Check your I-20 Form:
◊ Ensure that your name is spelled correctly, and matches the name in your passport.
◊ Check to be sure your date of birth is correct.
◊ Check that your program information, reporting dates and financial information are correct (note: if the reporting date has passed, you must update it before your visa appointment!).
◊ Make sure that we have signed page 1 of your I-20 form in blue ink.
- Make sure your documents are in order, easy to read, and well organized for the officer .
Prepare for the interview
The officer at the embassy / consulate must decide if you really plan to come to the United States as a student, and stay only temporarily. In fact, the officer will assume that you plan to stay in the United States permanently unless you prove otherwise! It is important that you can show the officer that you plan to be a full-time student, and that you will return home after you have completed your academic goals in the United States. Seattle Central has these suggestions:
Establish ties to your home country: People with strong family or financial ties to their home country are not likely to leave and never go back. If most or all of your family is in your home country, or if you have a job you will return to when you are finished studying, and if most of your financial support is coming from your home country, then your ties are fairly strong.
Review your financial support: Make sure that you are familiar with the financial documents in your application. If your parents or family members prepared the documents, they may not have shown you all the information, because it is private. Make sure that your sponsor shows you all the financial information, so you can answer any questions the visa officer might have.
Prepare an Academic and Career Plan: it is critical that you take time to think about your long-term academic and career plans. The officer will want to know that you have thought about why you want to study in the United States, what your major will be, and what your long-term career objective is. Seattle Central strongly suggest that you complete the Academic and Career Plan form (College Transfer or Professional and Technical) to prepare for your interview. You can also use this form to apply for a Priority Admissions Certificate.
There are other steps you can take to demonstrate to the visa officer that you are focused on pursuing your education in the United States:
- Request a Priority Admission Certificate
- Request a transfer admission guarantee letter from one of our university partners (for students joining the College Transfer or High school Completion programs)
- Take the TOEFL / IELTS
- Take the SAT or ACT
- Bring proof that you have completed an ESL program in your country
- Provide letters of support from your school (teachers, counselors, etc. – anyone that can speak well of your grades, study habits, etc.)
- Show proof that you completed a college preparation program
- Show that you are familiar with Seattle Central and its programs
Conduct during the interview
During the interview, we suggest that you do the following:
- Dress appropriately
- Smile and greet the officer
- Be polite, and do not argue with the officer
- Answer all questions (it is okay to ask the interviewer to repeat a question if you do not understand)
- Speak in English as much as possible.
- Answer honestly, and avoid using a pre-prepared speech (this will sound false to the officer)
- Do not lie or hide information (this is critical! If the officer knows you have lied, you will not get a visa)
For additional information, please consider Ten Points to Remember when Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa (Modified from NAFSA, Association of International Educators & the U.S. Department of State)