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How to nail your student visa interview

By Rohit Sethi
November 21, 2018 09:00 IST
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Be well prepared. Support your argument clearly, precisely, says Rohit Sethi, director at ESS Global-Study Abroad Consultant.

 How to nail your visa interview

Photograph: Kind courtesy RobbinHiggins/Pixabay

Every year, lakhs of Indian students travel overseas to pursue higher education at top global universities.

According to the 2018 Open Doors Report by Institute of International Education (IIE) and the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), as many as 1,96,271 Indians are currently studying across the US, making them the second largest community of international students in the country.

While the US remains the most preferred destination, Canada, Australia, the UK and other European countries have also witnessed an unprecedented rise in the number of Indian students in recent years.

Having a foreign degree opens many doors for students who are looking forward to a thriving, global career.

It not only bolsters your resume but also speaks volumes about your adaptability to new cultures and environments.

In the age of globalisation, where corporate organisations are on the lookout for employees with cultural awareness and sensitivity, you will hold a clear advantage over your counterparts with an international education.

However, along with the opportunities, comes a long list of responsibilities and tasks.

From making financial arrangements to packing your belongings, a lot goes in before you finally step inside the flight to your destination.

One such core task to complete before dreaming of your new university is getting the visa on time.

The visa interview, in particular, can be quite an unnerving experience for first-timers.

That said, cracking a visa interview can be simple if you are well-prepared.

To make your life a bit easier, let's have a look at some expected questions in your visa interview and tips on how to answer them.

Why did you choose this country for higher education? Aren't there any institutes in India offering the same or similar course?

You should start by praising the quality of education offered in that country.

If the course you applied for isn't available in India, let the Visa Officer (VO) know the same.

If the same course is offered by any institute in India, highlight the difference in the quality of education offered by that country and your home country.

Convince the VO with the fact that doing this course from that country will enhance your portfolio, increasing your chances to work for leading multi-national organisations.

Why did you select this university? How did you come to know about it?

Before you go in for the interview, make sure to carefully go through the university's website and brochures.

While you answer, mention its highlighted features such as the course structure, world ranking, faculty profile, research facility and illustrious alumni.

The VO should understand that you have put in a lot of thought before making the choice. Also, let him know about how you learned about the university.

Why did you opt for this course? Is it in line with your previous degrees?

You should be very precise and to-the-point when you answer this question.

Support your argument by stating how the course is relevant to your previous degrees and how it will fuel your career growth.

Lastly, don’t forget to talk about your strong interest in the particular field of study and your future plans with the degree.

How will you manage to pay for your educational and living expenses during the stay?

This is a crucial question as the answer you give can decide whether you will get your student visa or not.

Assure the VO that you will be able to able to afford your academic as well as living expenses.

When he asks, give details about your income, your sponsor's income and a rough plan to manage finances for accommodation, food, daily transportation, insurance, and tuition fees.

Would you go back to your home country after the completion of your course?

Well, this is a tricky one. You might want to draft the answer differently depending on your destination.

Some nations allow student visa holders to stay back and work, whereas countries like the US and the UK only grant visas to those who plan to return back to their home countries after the course is over. So do your research and have a defined answer for this one.  

While these questions give you a rough idea of what to say, you might want to research some more about student visa interviews by reading up on the internet or talking to experts in placing students in universities abroad.

You would also do well by taking tips and advice from your friends or family members who have been to international shores to study already.

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Rohit Sethi