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Myths about consular process for US visas — Part III

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By Michael Phulwani and David H. Nachman

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions that people have relating to the US visas. This is especially the case for India who apply for visas and receives random denials on bases of 221(g) & 214(b). This is part III of the series of Articles about the common myths that relate to various types of visa processing.

I can improve my chances of obtain a visa if I hire an Education Agent.

Fact:  This is a myth. Do not believe anyone, who tells you they can help get a visa. Do not pay money or enter into an agreement with any such person. Self-proclaimed visas “fixers” have no special access to the US government.

A visa applicant needs to document a minimum income level.

Fact: As a student visa applicant, you should be able to provide financial evidence that shows you, your parents, or your sponsor have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. There is no minimum income or availability of funds required.

Only the academic superstars get visas.

Fact:  This is a myth. Visas are not reserved for the very best students. Getting a visa depends first upon having gained acceptance to a college or university in the United States. Once you have been admitted to the academic institution or accepted as a participant in an approved exchange program, the academic institution will provide you with the appropriate form required by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You will be required to submit this form to the US consulate when you apply for a visa. You will need to demonstrate to the consular officer, who conducts your interview that you are a bona fide student who intends to enroll in a program in a admitting institution. You also need to show that you have a well-developed plan of study and that you are knowledgeable about the subject you are studying. Also, that after completing the studies you will return to your home country.

During your visa interview, the consular officer will be waiting to hear the “right” answers.

Fact: The consular officer is looking for you to articulate clear and concise responses  to his/her questions and to provide clear description of personal circumstances to establish that you are a bonafide non-immigrant and going to US for specific purpose and period of time and your non-immigrant status, which may lead him/her to believe that you will not settle in the US permanently and will return to home country upon competition of the purpose for which you are applying for the visa.

You’ll get a visa only if you have relatives in the United States.

Fact:  This is a myth. This is not true. The interviewing consular officer may ask about relatives in the United States during the visa interview, just as he or she may ask about your family situation in your home country. As a matter of fact, consular officials may deny a non-immigrant visa subject to Section 214(b) if the applicant has close family relatives in the US.

International students are not permitted to work while visiting the United States on a student visa.

Fact: This is a myth. There are several way in which a foreign student is allowed to work in the US. First, a foreign student can work on campus for 20 hours a week with authorization from the International Student Office (ISC). Second, an intern student can work in a work study program using Circular Practice Training (CPT). Third, a foreign student can engage in one full year of work following their full-time course of study. This is called Optional Practical Training (OPT). There may be other methods by which a foreign student can work in the US with “special permission” from USCIS.

You must have your entire future planned out to get an F-1 student visa.

Fact: This is a myth. You need to be able to discuss a realistic study plan, but not a detailed plan for your entire career. Consular officials are not supposed to look at the crystal ball to make a decision about applicant’s nonimmigrant intent. As a matter of fact, the consular official should look at your intent only at the time of your present application and not guess about your future plans. In most situations, students themselves don’t know about their future and such decision is made only upon competition of their studies. Unfortunately, some consular officials are looking at the long term intent of the applicant rather than intent at the time of the application is made.

— To be continued