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US student visas: Top myths busted

Merril Diniz | June 06, 2006

In How to apply for a US student visa, we outlined the various steps involved in the application process, well as offered suggestions on how you could expedite it.

Here US Consul General Michael Owen and Consular Section Chief Joseph M Pomper dispel some common myths.

Myth 1: Ivy League students get admission and non-Ivy League students don't.

This is incorrect. Ivy League refers to a group of institutes that are world-renowned for their academic excellence. For instance, Harvard University and Princeton University are Ivy League schools.

"We are not in favour of particular schools or against particular school," says Pomper. The US consulate is only concerned about whether you meet the criteria for obtaining a visa and whether you are produce the relevant documentation.

Myth 2: You must dress in a certain way for your interview.

As long you satisfy all the prerequisites, you can wear whatever you want.

It is totally false that men must wear a suit or women have to dress in a Western outfit. There is no dress code for the interview.

Myth 3: There is a quota for certain states and for certain family names (like Patel or Shah).

There is no such quota. You could be from any state in India and have any last name. It does not affect the visa decision.

Myth 4: Low scores will negatively affect the chances of my application being accepted.

Not at all. If a university has accepted you, then that is generally enough. The consulate will not take your low scores into account.

Myth 5: There is a limitation on the number of students who may be granted visas.

There is no limitation.

According to US Consul General Michael Owen, 81,000 Indian students were studying at American colleges and universities in the last academic year.

This year, the US consulate in Mumbai alone expects 12,000 applications for US student visas, an increase of a little over three percent from last year. Owen expects this number to grow even further.

In fact, Consular Section Chief Joseph M Pomper says they "want to cross the one lakh mark."

Myth 6: The US embassy is very reluctant to help or give out visas.

Not at all. If you are applying for a US student visa this year, the good news is that the US consulate is taking additional measures to ensure you get your visa on time.

The consulate is scheduling extra interview appointments over the next three months: June, July and August. Consulate staff will work on the first Saturday of every month up to August to accommodate as many students as possible. Additional staff has also been brought in to help process the applications.

Myth 7: The embassy will help you in providing information on various courses and colleges.

Not at all. It is not the duty of the embassy to do so.

But, if you are a prospective student, there is an alternative to seeking counselling from private overseas education consultants.

Owen recommends prospective students utilise the services of the US Educational Foundation in India to learn more about the application process -- right from choosing a good school to taking the competitive tests to applying for your visa. You will also get access to information on fellowships, counselling and other programmes organised for Indian students.

USEFI has centres in:

You can visit the USEFI Web site for more information.

Part I: How to apply for a US visa


A checklist for US student visas
What's an I-20?
Want to settle in the US?
All you wanted to know about US student visas
Studying in the US? Get a work visa
Convert your F-1 student visa to an H-1 work visa 

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