After you are accepted to Ozark Christian College, you need an F-1 Student Visa. We have included tips on how to be prepared for this task, but we also recommend that you visit the U.S. State Department Web site for additional information. Understand that the details vary for each student. You must obtain accurate information, instructions, and forms for the specific U.S. Consulate in your country. Please check for an official list of U.S. embassies and consulates in your country. Typically, U.S. Consulates allow students to apply for the F-1 student visa no sooner than 90 days before the "start date" indicated on the I-20 (a form you will receive from Ozark). Issuance of the visa can take from one week to several months. May through August are the busiest months for student visas, so we recommend you begin the process as soon as you can. Some Consulates may require a 30-day waiting period to conduct a background check. Do not wait until the last minute. Most U.S. Consulates require that your passport be valid for at least six months after the date you plan to enter the U.S. Most U.S. Consulates have very strict requirements about how you can submit your visa application. Some have a "drop box"; some require that you mail the application; some require that you use a visa service or travel agent.
Your Visa Application
What do visa officers look for when you apply for an F-1 student visa? There are several things to be aware of.
- Evidence of your ability and intention to be a full-time student at Ozark Christian College. You will be required to present certain documents:
- Certificate of Visa Eligibility (the I-20 Form)
- Official acceptance letter from Ozark Christian College
- Academic transcripts (with high marks)
- TOEFL score reports, or other standardized test scores (SAT, GRE, etc.). Note: It is good to take these standardized tests even if not required by your institution, since US Consulates reserve the right to ask for these, regardless of university requirements.
The officer may also check to see if you are prepared to successfully complete your studies for the major to which you have been admitted. If they doubt that you will succeed at OCC in the major/department you indicated, they can reject your visa application.
Evidence that you have adequate financial resources to pay for your studies and living expenses while in the U.S., without needing a job while in the U.S. You must demonstrate sufficient financial resources by showing the visa officer your financial documents. If you are receiving a scholarship, be sure that your award letter is printed on official Ozark Christian College letterhead paper. Some consulates require bank statements, past tax statements, company letters, employment contracts, etc. Some consulates require that you show evidence of funds for all years of study; others require only one year. Some require an actual bank draft for the amount listed on the I-20. Be absolutely sure that the documents are prepared and presented in exactly the manner required (for example, if they say "original only," that means no copies, no certified copies, no notarized copies, etc.).
Evidence that you intend to go to the U.S. only to study; certainty that you do not intend to immigrate to the U.S. This can be the most difficult requirement. U.S. Consular visa officers are required by law to assume that you intend to immigrate to the U.S., and that, therefore, they should reject your visa application. You must show documentation of "strong ties" to your home country and legitimate, self-serving reasons to return home after graduation. "Strong ties" are things that bind you to your homeland: future job, family, financial prospects, property that you will inherit, investments, etc.
If you are required to have a personal interview, what can you expect? What kinds of questions might you be asked? Here are some tips and examples.
Things to do:
- Come to the interview well groomed and dressed neatly (but a suit or formal dress is not required).
- Come to the interview prepared with all of the forms and documents as specified in the consulate's instructions. Have them organized neatly and logically.
- Be prepared for quick, rapid-fire questions from the visa officer, and keep your answers short and direct.
- Practice your conversational English. Speak clearly and with the appropriate volume.
- Do not argue. Maintain a positive attitude. Be friendly and courteous.
- Do not memorize your answers.
- The interview will almost always be conducted in English and will be very short (probably 2-3 minutes).
- Family members, friends, or representatives cannot attend the interview with you in most cases.
- The visa officer will render his/her decision immediately when the interview is finished.
- What is/was your high school (secondary school) GPA (grade point average)?
- Graduate students: What is/was your university GPA?
- Did you apply to local universities? If not, why not?
- If yes, why aren't you going to a local university?
- How many U.S. schools did you apply to?
- How many U.S. schools accepted you?
- Why did you apply to OCC?
- Did you do a lot of research about OCC? What is so good about OCC?
- Why did you choose OCC? Name five things about OCC that made you decide to choose it.
- Why didn't you choose the other universities?
- What do you want to study? What's your major? Why did you choose it?
- What do you expect to gain from your education?
- What's the job scope (job market) for this major?
- Do you plan to stay in the U.S. after graduation and work?
- Would you like to stay in the U.S. after graduation in order to work?
- Do you have family in the U.S.?
- Do you have family members that studied in the U.S. and then returned to your home country?
- Does your family own any homes, businesses, or property in the U.S.?
- Does your family have any funds (bank accounts, money markets, stocks, etc.) in the U.S.?
- How do you and your family plan to finance your education in the U.S.?