NAFSA: Association of International Educators has prepared a list of points to remember in preparing for a visa interview.
Receiving a visa document from Harvard (Form I-20 or DS-2019) does not guarantee that you will receive a visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. As an applicant for a temporary, non-immigrant visa to enter the United States, you must have all the required documents (Form I-20 or DS-2019, SEVIS fee receipt, proof of funding, photographs, application fees, etc.) when you present your application to the consular official.
Please keep in mind that you will have a brief interview. You must be able to prove your eligibility for a non-immigrant visa by presenting credible financial information along with the rest of your documents. You should also be prepared to answer questions regarding the length of your intended stay in the United States and how you will use your academic experience gained in the United States when you return to your home country. Consular officials expect to see evidence of your ties to your home country, such as family, property, employment, bank accounts, etc. If the consular official determines that you are not eligible for a non-immigrant visa because you have not presented sufficient evidence that you intend to return home, there is usually no recourse to the visa denial unless you are able to present new information. You may also be asked to present evidence that you have maintained legal immigration status if you have worked, studied, or resided in the United States previously.
In some limited circumstances a consular officer may waive the interview requirement for the categories of applicants listed below if they do not present national security concerns:
- a child under 14 years of age
- a person over 79 years of age
- A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (except attendants, servants, or personal employees of accredited officials), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, NATO-5, or NATO-6 visa holders
- an applicant for a diplomatic or official visa
- an applicant who within 12 months of the expiration of the applicant's previously issued visa is seeking re-issuance of a nonimmigrant biometric visa in the same classification at the consular post of the applicant's usual residence, and for whom the consular officer has no indication of visa ineligibility or of noncompliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations
- an applicant for whom a waiver of personal appearance is warranted in the national interest or because of unusual circumstances (emergency, unusual hardship, etc..) as determined by the consular officer
A consular officer or the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State may not waive a personal appearance under the following circumstances:
- any nonimmigrant visa applicant who is not a national or resident of the country in which he or she is applying, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview under section 3 or 4 above.
- any nonimmigrant visa applicant who was previously refused a visa, is listed in CLASS, or who otherwise requires a Security Advisory Opinion, unless
- The visa was refused temporarily and the refusal was subsequently overcome
- The alien was found inadmissible, but the inadmissibility was waived
- The applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview under section 3 or 4 above.
- any nonimmigrant visa applicant who is from a country designated by the Secretary of State as a state sponsor of terrorism, regardless of age, or in a group designated by the Secretary of State under section 222(h)(s)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, unless the applicant is eligible for a waiver of the interview under section 3 or 4 above.