International Students

Tips on Getting Your Visa

At LIM College, we are committed to helping you obtain your visa and make the successful transition to enrolling in fashion school as an international student. Here are some tips to help you along the way. Questions? Contact us.

1. Be able to show that you have ties to your home country
Under United States law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, including student visas, are presumed to be intending to immigrate until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. "Ties" to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans and career prospects in your home country.

Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter, which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate. If you overstayed your authorized stay in the United States previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation, if available.

2. Practice your English
Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. You might want to practice conversing in English with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches!

3. Speak for yourself
Do not bring your parents or family members with you into the interview room. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. You will create a negative impression if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If your parents come with you in case there are questions about topics like funding, they should wait in the waiting room.

4. Know LIM College’s program offerings and how they will fit your career plans
If you are not able to articulate why you want to study in a particular fashion program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying fashion in the United States at LIM College relates to your future professional career when you return home.

5. Be brief
Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers short and to the point.

6. Additional documentation
Your written documents should be clear and concise, so that it’s immediately clear to the consular officer what documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have two to three minutes of interview time, if you are lucky.

7. Not all countries are equal
You will have more trouble getting a visa if you come from a country with economic problems or where many students have remained in the United States as immigrants. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending to immigrate. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United States.

8. Employment
Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to explain what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part time are permitted activities.

9. Dependents remaining at home
If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to explain how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gets the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.

10. Maintain a positive attitude
Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.

Information adapted from NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

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