APPLICANT MUST INTEND TO BE A TEMPORARY STUDENT, RATHER THAN A PERMANENT RESIDENT

WHAT U.S VISA LAW STATES ABOUT INTENT TO BE A TEMPORARY STUDENT

101.8 U.S.C. 1101 (f) (I) 3 states that an applicant who wishes to apply for a Student Visa in the U.S. must be,  a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study who must be a resident in a foreign country that he has no intention of abandoning”.

EXPLANATION OF THIS LAW:

For international residents, there are two major classes of visas which are possible to apply for in order to go to the U.S.  (1) One class of visas are Immigrate visas for those who want to go to the U.S. to live and work and stay there.  (2) The other class of visas are Temporary visas for those who are for those who wish to go to the U.S. to stay for a while and then return back to their home country—such as students.  It is the responsibility of the U.S. visa office to try to identify those few student applicants who, while they say they are applying to go to the U.S. only to study, in reality they are trying to get into the country on temporary visas-- and then they plan to stay in the U.S. to work or live, rather than return back home. 

 How can a visa officer differentiate which applicants are “legitimate” students who intend to study and then come home, and which ones intend to stay in the U.S.?   Below is a list of some questions that may be asked by visa officers to help them make this determination.  Following each question, find our best understanding of the reason why that question might be asked.     

QUESTION #1    “HOW MANY SCHOOLS IN THE U.S. DID YOU APPLY TO?”    

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION:

A legitimate student who is “serious” about going to the U.S. to study would certainly do research on a lot of possible universities in order to find those which might best fit his education goals and budget.  And then, by applying to at least a few of these schools he would more likely be seen by the visa official as a genuine “bona fide” applicant wanting to study rather than immigrate.   On the other hand, if a student applies to only one university, the suspicion on the part of the visa officer may persist that such a student has not been very serious about picking s school that fits him best in terms of curriculum or cost.    

QUESTION #2   WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS SCHOOL, RATHER THAN ANY OF THE OTHERS? 

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION:

If the student has applied to several schools and has received I-20s from some of them, there must be some reason(s) why the student has chosen to apply for a visa for this school, rather than for any of the other schools.  The fact is that there are many acceptable reasons for narrowing the choice down to just one school, but if the student cannot convincingly articulate those reasons, a visa officer may suspect that the student has applied to several universities just in order to bolster his image for the visa interview—by showing that he has been acceptable and qualified by many American universities.

The student may have any number of valid reasons for finally deciding to apply for his visa to attend this school--it may be because it is more affordable, or because of the area where the school is located, or the size of the university, or because of a recommendation from a friend or student at that school, or for some other personal reason.  Any of these reasons can be valid.  But, the important point is that he be open and truthful in his answer about why he actually has chosen this school.

QUESTION # 3:   HAVE YOU TAKEN THE GRE OR GMAT TEST?   IF NOT, WHY NOT?

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION:

International Master Degree applicants who study for, and take, the GRE or GMAT test can benefit greatly by learning new vocabulary and language usage in the U. S. which can help them get acclimated to American life and culture more quickly upon arriving there.   And surveys have shown that those students who prepare themselves ahead of time by taking these tests generally have higher scores and perform better in their classes throughout their course of study when they get to the U.S.

Knowing this, a visa officer may feel that a legitimate, serious student would do everything he could to prepare himself as best as possible prior to going to the U.S., including the taking of preparation tests such as the GRE or the GMAT.     Conversely, an applicant who decides not to take one of those tests may be considered by the visa officer as not very serious about his success as a student in the U.S., perhaps because his intent may be to actually become an immigrant and not to be a student at all.

(Special caution—if all of the schools to which a student has applied (or has researched) are ones which do not require the taking of the GRE or GMAT, this fact may suggest to a visa official that the student is not very serious about trying to find the best school, but is only trying to find one of the easiest schools to get in to).

QUESTION #4   ARE YOU CHANGING YOUR MAJOR FIELD OF STUDY? 

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION:

This question will probably only be asked to students whose undergraduate major was different from the major that the applicant is now planning to study in the U.S.   It often seems to the visa officer that it is unreasonable to believe that a serious and legitimate student would choose to abandon his original career path and forfeit the large investment he has made in his education up through his undergraduate studies—and suddenly is now changing majors and is planning a totally different career.   This “change of major” can often be interpreted by the visa officer as a sign of a candidate whose intent is to get to the U.S. any way possible by accepting an I-20 from any school, anywhere, anytime, to study ANY MAJOR AT ALL. This sometimes can be seen as the profile of a person wanting to immigrate, rather than wanting to study in his chosen career and then return home for a better job.  

QUESTION #5   WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR STUDIES IN THE U.S?

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION.

If an applicant does not have in mind a career plan based in his Home Country, he will not be able to answer that question successfully, and, most likely, the officer will conclude that what the applicant does have in mind is, instead, a career plan in the U.S.  

On the other hand if the applicant does some advance research on companies in his country who hire students who have returned from the U.S. to get really good jobs, and if he actually interviews some of those companies regarding possibilities for future employment, or if his current employer has promised a higher salary and position if he returns home with his American degree—this can demonstrate to a visa officer that his FOCUS for employment is back home and not in the U.S.

QUESTION #6   WHAT COURSES WILL YOU BE TAKING IN YOUR MAJOR OF STUDY?

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION:

If the applicant has not already studied the university catalogue to see what classes he will be taking in his major, this is certainly evidence that he is not very interested in academics, but rather, just is focused on trying to get to the U.S. for some other reason. 

QUESTION #7   HOW WILL THESE COURSES HELP YOU GET A GOOD JOB BACK HOME?

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION:

If the applicant cannot relate the courses he will be taking in the U.S. to an anticipated job when he returns to his home country, a visa officer may conclude that he may not care what the courses are about—because he doesn’t plan to go back home to apply for an enhanced job there that requires skill in those areas.    

QUESTION #8   TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THIS UNIVERSITY AND WHERE IT IS LOCATED.

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION:

It is obvious that any genuine applicant for a student visa will have studied the website and literature of the university which has issued him an I-20.  However, if, at the time of the visa interview, the student does not know, for example, details about the location, the climate or the history of the university, the start dates, the size of the school, the services offered for international students, etc., this can indicate to the visa officer that the candidate’s focus is not on this university at all, but, rather his focus is on just getting to the U.S., but probably not to enroll and graduate there.   This may indicate to the officer that this applicant has no intention of studying at this particular university, and could be considered to be a probable “immigrant”, (and therefore ineligible for a student visa).  

QUESTION #9     DO YOU HAVE RELATIVES OR FRIENDS LIVING NEAR THIS UNIVERSITY?

REASON FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION (about relatives and friends near the university)

If the student has friends or relatives near the university where he plans to attend, a visa officer may want to know the nature of the relationship with those persons.  For example, if the student has a “friend” near there who is actually a fiancé and a U.S. resident, the possibility of marriage and change of status may be a consideration in not granting the visa.  Or, if the close relatives have a business in the area, it can sometimes be assumed that the student might work for them in their business or their home (such as babysitting) in exchange for room and board. 

While this would ordinarily be a convenient and pleasant relationship for both the student and the family, such a work arrangement is actually illegal for a student to engage in.  Thus, the visa may possibly be denied if the visa officer concludes that the applicant’s intent is to “work” for his relatives while he is studying.  

TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR THE VISA INTERVIEW:

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