The Web


Home > Get Ahead > Careers > Advisory > Dr Arun Vakil

Your daily predictions:

Want visa? Learn to speak well

March 21, 2006

You are set on going to the US for further studies, a job or to settle down.

Will good communication skills be a bonus at the visa interview?

US visa expert Dr Arun Vakil, in a live chat with Get Ahead readers on March 16, said: "Communication skills are most important in visa interviews.

"How you communicate, verbally and non-verbally, plays a decisive role in determining your personality, alertness and capability.

"It is good to go through a Public Speaking/ Personality Development course before attending your visa interview."

Dr Arun Vakil has an MBA from the University of California, USA, and a PhD from the University of Wyoming, USA. He is an expert on US visa regulations. He was associated with the US consulate in Mumbai as an economist from 1974 to 1977.

Dr Vakil conducts orientation courses for students going to the US; these courses are organised by the United States Education Foundation in India and the Indo-American Society. He also lectures on US visas and immigration laws.

Dr Vakil wrote the book Gateway To America, in 1984.

For those of you who missed the chat, here is the transcript:

Part II: US student visas -- What is an I-20?

Dr Arun Vakil: Hi to all aspiring student visa applicants. I shall be primarily answering questions on student visas today. India sends the largest number of students to US universities. You could be a part of this fraternity if you apply right and prepare well. The US student visa application process is an exercise and an examination by itself and a person who is well prepared is bound to succeed. Good luck and let's chat. 

prem: Hello sir. My GRE score is 1140,got admit in 4 universities and one with assistantship, financially ok, my brother is working in US (H1-B visa) and sister in law is doing PHD. Please rate my chances of getting F1-visa

Dr Arun Vakil: You should be okay to get student visa if the conditions that you mention with regard to entrance tests and financials are okay.  

Aditya: Hello, I am currently doing my masters in Economics in UK. I wish to know if i have to start from the masters level again if I am admitted to the PhD program in USA. Also, is it advisable for me to apply for US visa from UK or do I need to come back to India ?

Dr Arun Vakil: You could apply for a PhD from the UK. The visa officer at the US consulate in the UK has discretionary powers to decide if he can issue a visa from the UK or if he wants you to go to India to get new a student visa. Decisions are made based on each individual case.

MSCS: Hello Mr.Arun, I have a sibling in the US who had gone there on F1 and has been recently granted a H1-B. But my sponsor on the I-20 is still my father and not my sibling. Do I have to still worry about the fact that my sibling is in the US? What about the impending rush on F1Visa Dates? The online booking is almost full till august?

Dr Arun Vakil: There is no problem provided your sibling has not committed any fraud. The waiting period at most consulates is bad but they have special provisions for student visa applicants except in Chennai. Chennai students, if not refused before, can try at Delhi.

deep: i have J2 visa issued in aug.2005 .at the time of filling up the visa application i had indicated the probable date of travel to usa as oct2005.for some reasons i could not go .i am planning to go in it wife is working there on J1.

Dr Arun Vakil: I see no problem if your visa is valid.  

raja: Hello sir. I got admit with Research assistantship. Will this be a plus or minus for F1- visa

Dr Arun Vakil: This is a big plus. You are a star. Go and have a ball in the US.

jyo: I have been offered an admit for one univ in USA, penn state univ, but no aid yet, univ is too expensive, for MS in arch Eng, I really want to study and on other hand my husband is looking forward for an H1B, but since I am a non-IT professional, I am an Electrical Engineer in building services consultancy in Sydney, what would my chanecs be for an H1B as well, as I don't really accompanying my husband just on an H4 visa and accompany him to US after Octber and have to wait till next year April, for myself to try for H1B. please let me know my chances

Dr Arun Vakil: Try to get admission to other universities which are economically more viable from your viewpoint.

nishant: hi Sir, is any role of communication skill in getting visa?

Dr Arun Vakil: Communication skills are most important in visa interviews. How you communicate, verbally and non-verbally, plays decisive role about your personality, alertness and capability. It is good to go through Public Speaking and Personality Development courses before visa interviews.

udhay: Dear Sir, I have got an admit in an US univ for MS (Fall 2006). They have given an estimate of Rs.21 L for the first year expenses. I am planning to take an education loan of 17 L and the show the remaining with the liquid funds. Will there be any questions in the Visa interview since I am taking an edu loan for the major part of the expenses?

Dr Arun Vakil: Educational loans for a major part of your expenses is a problem. They will ask how you will repay the loan. Unless you have a satisfactory answer, they will assume you will go and start earning after your degree to repay the loan and you may be considered an intending immigrant. You have to be careful about this. 

krishna: My son is doing B.Tech II year with Bio-Medical Engineering. What is required to get a Visa for higher studies or where to approch in this regard. Does this field has any oppertunity in US Pl. clarify. Thank you.

Dr Arun Vakil: Bio-medical engineering is an upcoming field. Once your son applies to a select few universities, he will get the Form I-20, an admission form from the university where he is accepted. One has to show this while applying for a visa at the US consulate. Study for the detailed procedure.

tanmay: Sir please answer my question, Dear arun vakil, I am planning to apply for a student visa to USA in this September. I am partially going to finance my study, and half is going to finance by my fathers friend who is living in the Netherlands. Can I allowed to do that? At present, I am studying in the Netherlands, and I am going to apply for my visa from here. Do you see any problem in my case?

Dr Arun Vakil: The visa officer at US consulate, Netherlands, will decide if you can get visa there or he may send you to India to apply for one. An additional sponsor to supplement a father's income is allowed but you have to justify why your father's friend is willing to help you and how much. Also, how you will repay him? You must provide these answers.

naveen: Hello Sir Please rate my F1 Visa . I dont have a GMAT score , Toefl is 270 .

Dr Arun Vakil: It is not possible to rate the F-1 visa. Normally universities in the US ask for a GRE or GMAT score to qualify for graduate studies besides TOEFL.

prakash: hi, i have finished my medicine two years back and want to apply for f1 visa for MPH degree in there any negative effect on getting visa as i didnt apply for these two years..?

Dr Arun Vakil: No. But you have to show what you did in the last two years. Also if the visa officer finds out that you are applying for an MPH degree in order to reach the US and then enter the USMLE and CSA exam, you will have difficulty getting a visa.

Dev: Hello Sir, I was in US between 2003-2005 as a F1 student.But I had to come back to India almost 8 months back due to some family issues without completing the course. My university is ready to give me a new I-20 to continue the PhD. Do I have to attend the visa interview again in India? ( My US visa stamp given in 2003 shows it to be valid till 2007 June but I am out of status for more than 5 months now)

Dr Arun Vakil: The law states that any student away from the US university enrollment for five or more months is out of status. In your case, you have to apply all over again and appear in person.

dharan: hello sir, one of my school friend is in US working after compeleting MS. He is ready and willing to sponsor for my MBA in USA,since he is willing to help,can i apply

Dr Arun Vakil: First, you have to show whatever family funds you have. Your friend can supplement family funds. Also, you must have a viable answer as to how you will repay the funds given to you by your friend, in the future.

smitha_shesha: sir i'm intending to go for an MS course in august 2007. i hav a job offer as well and have to report in september 2006.will having a job here affect my chances of getting a visa?

Dr Arun Vakil: The MS course requires an F-1 visa. A job offer requires a different kind of visa. You cannot have both. Choose one.

pavi: if you have aid from the university, then how much should your bank balance show?( please tell an approximate amount )

Dr Arun Vakil: You have to have liquid funds in your funds statement to take care of your first year of study. You must also have access to funds for your future needs based on duration of your course. THERE IS NO FIXED AMOUNT WHATSOEVER THAT ONE HAS TO SHOW IN BANK ACCOUNT. Each case is looked at with individual merit depending on the choice of university, scholarship availability, family funds, dependents in the family, the earning power of key members, etc.

MSCS: Hello Sir, Is it a problem if I use my uncle residing in US as a sponsor(using I-134) for my MS?

Dr Arun Vakil: No problem.

ln_s: hellow sir, i have received I-20 from 2 US universities, with Research Assistancehip, but i have an Year GAp, will this affect my VISA

Dr Arun Vakil: So long as you justify what you were doing during the gap, there is no problem

tiyasha: hello sir, would you please tell me that in case i get a full scholarship or a partial one do i have to show the visa officer funds for 2 years of masters course or just the diference of my total cost and the scolarship i receive

Dr Arun Vakil: You have to show funds for the first year of study out of your liquid assets plus whatever scholarship you get. The balance amount can be earmarked for the next year.

Arun: One of my friend's sister is getting married. However, my friend is on an OPT after his Masters and his H1B is being processed. He is being told that he cannot travel for his sister's marriage. Seems bizzare and a violation of basic human rights - is there a workaround? What do people do in case of emergencies under such circumstances?

Dr Arun Vakil: This is a delicate situation. He can leave the US only if he has a document from the immigration office that his H-1B is filed and approved and that he is waiting for the visa to become available. Only in such case he can travel, otherwise he loses status. Cases with such transitionary status are tricky and you have to accept it whether you like it or not.

Ramesh: Hi Vakil, In 2000-2001 my F1 visa is rejetected 3 times. If I apply for any B1 or H1B(currently Iam working for a company) now, Is there any problem that I will face.

Dr Arun Vakil: H-1B may be easier in your case but B-1 may be difficult. Anyway, one needs to study your case professionally to give you more an accurate answer.

shans: Hi I am having 15 yrs of teaching experience in India...and nw want to go to US for my PhD should I proceed...and what are my chances?

Dr Arun Vakil: You have a good chance. Apply at US universities where your specialisation is taught. Visit for details.

VG: PSL DO REPLY:Hi Dr.Vakil,My F1 visa was rejected 2 years back.I had a GRE score of 1350 and a TOEFL score of close to 95%.Meanwhile I got married and have a kid. What are my chances if I try now?I have my borther and lots of relatives in the US.Will I get thru if I apply now? Does my GRE and TEOFL scores still hold?Pls do reply. Thanks in advance.

Dr Arun Vakil: You will have to prove you have funds enough to take care of your studies in the US and be ready to answer as to how you will support your family while you are a student. If you plan to take them with you, you need to show as to how you will finance their living in the US

pavi: Hi, I am a student and would like to know 1.if the online visa interview appointment requires an I-20 for booking the date for interview. 2.what is the DS-156 form, what kind of information does it require? 3. For tourist purposes, How long ( average time) will the stay in US be given if the itinenary is not given.

Dr Arun Vakil: You cannot apply for student visa interview until you have I-20, online or offline. Visit which will tell you about forms. You can also visit and look for forms DS-156 instructions for details. For tourists, the stay in the US is decided at the port of entry. It could be between 1 to 6 months.

Part II: US student visas -- What is an I-20?


~ Get your visa status on your mobile

Share your comments

 What do you think about the story?

Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 5

Sub: VISA Sponsership for Brother

Hi, I have valid H1B Visa. Can I sponser VISA for my younger brother? regards Pankaj

Posted by Pankaj Shukla

Sub: inquiry

Can I marry a green card holder in US? I am an Indian citizen residing in India.What is the process and how do I get ...

Posted by lopa bose

Sub: Enquiry

Dear sir, I am graduate B.A (Arts). Now I'm doing M.Sc(IT) distance education final year.One of my brother in US. He is a green card ...

Posted by firdose

Sub: to study ms in us

Sir,name some links so that i can apply for scolarships.

Posted by sush

Sub: visa

hi, my brother recently got H1-b visa. and now waiting for labor certificate. I got I-20 from california state uni. now can i apply for ...

Posted by greg


Article Tools
Email this article
Top emailed links
Print this article
Contact the editors
Discuss this article

Copyright © 2006 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.