Welcome to the GradCafe

Hello!  Welcome to The GradCafe Forums.You're welcome to look around the forums and view posts.  However, like most online communities you must register before you can create your own posts.  This is a simple, free process that requires minimal information. Benefits of membership:

  • Participate in discussions
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Search forums
  • Removes some advertisements (including this one!)
jujubea

Help with student visa questions

56 posts in this topic

Hi all - 

I used to be a visa officer and can answer general questions about forms, interviews, etc. regarding student visas.

Some of you have found me through other posts, but I thought I'd start a thread where people can ask questions openly, too. 

Here's an example of a question I recently received:

"If I indicate on the I-20 that financial support is coming from "personal funds" is it OK that on my visa application form it says that my parents are paying?" 

The answer is yes, that information is not contradictory, so you would be fine. If the visa officer asks or thinks they're different, you just tell them since it is not a business or other "outside" source, you indicated "personal." They might ask about your parents' money, then, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might be useful!

My I-20 states that my source of income for the difference between my funding and my estimated costs ($500) is coming from a sponsor.  It feels really absurd asking a sponsor to document that they have $500 to sponsor me, when I have well in excess of that myself.

Would showing either a personal bank statement, or even cash/cashiers cheque for the amount be satisfactory, or does the source HAVE to match what is stated on the I-20?

 

EDIT NOTE: This will be for the border crossing, as I don't need a visa interview or processing beforehand (Canadian) if that makes a difference.

Edited by Happington

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a Canadian student going to the US (on an i-20) do I need any sort of interview beforehand, or do I just take my documents with me to the airport? Do I need to bring any sort of proof of ties to Canada? I currently live with my parents so I don't own any property.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Happington said:

You might be useful!

My I-20 states that my source of income for the difference between my funding and my estimated costs ($500) is coming from a sponsor.  It feels really absurd asking a sponsor to document that they have $500 to sponsor me, when I have well in excess of that myself.

Would showing either a personal bank statement, or even cash/cashiers cheque for the amount be satisfactory, or does the source HAVE to match what is stated on the I-20?

 

EDIT NOTE: This will be for the border crossing, as I don't need a visa interview or processing beforehand (Canadian) if that makes a difference.

I'm not the OP so maybe my experience was just one case and maybe @jujubea can give a more general answer. When I crossed on my DS-2019, the border agent did not look at any evidence of funding. My DS-2019 shows two sources of funding: my school and a NSERC fellowship. The border agent did not ask to see verification of the NSERC funding. I don't remember for sure whether or not they even looked at my letter of acceptance from my school. This letter does say there is funding but the numbers do not match the DS-2019 values because it lists the total funding, not the breakdown between NSERC and my school. Also, the DS-2019 "cost of attendance" value includes tuition and my letter just says "tuition waiver", not a dollar amount. 

11 minutes ago, Danger_Zone said:

As a Canadian student going to the US (on an i-20) do I need any sort of interview beforehand, or do I just take my documents with me to the airport? Do I need to bring any sort of proof of ties to Canada? I currently live with my parents so I don't own any property.

No, Canadians are exempt from the visa interview so you just take your documents with you. If you are flying from a Canadian airport with US preclearance, then you actually "cross the border" in the Canadian airport. If you are doing this and you are extra worried, then you can come to the airport really early so that if you end up needing documentation you don't have, you can go home and get it and return early enough to catch your flight.

You do not need to show any proof of ties to Canada. Again, @jujubea could answer this better, but I think there is an understanding that most students like us would not own property. In the chance that they ask you what you plan to do after your degree, the correct (and honest) answer would be to return to Canada because it's unlikely that you already have a job offer that will allow you to stay in the US. I think at this point, they mostly just want to know that you are not using the student visa to try to attain some sort of US status because the purpose of the US visa is to be in the US for study.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, TakeruK said:

No, Canadians are exempt from the visa interview so you just take your documents with you. If you are flying from a Canadian airport with US preclearance, then you actually "cross the border" in the Canadian airport. If you are doing this and you are extra worried, then you can come to the airport really early so that if you end up needing documentation you don't have, you can go home and get it and return early enough to catch your flight.

You do not need to show any proof of ties to Canada. Again, @jujubea could answer this better, but I think there is an understanding that most students like us would not own property. In the chance that they ask you what you plan to do after your degree, the correct (and honest) answer would be to return to Canada because it's unlikely that you already have a job offer that will allow you to stay in the US. I think at this point, they mostly just want to know that you are not using the student visa to try to attain some sort of US status because the purpose of the US visa is to be in the US for study.

That's what I thought, I just wanted to make sure, thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much for this – this is really helpful!
I've just been notified that my I-20 is coming on Monday, so am making a start on filling out the DS-160.

A couple of issues I've run into:
– Is there a definitive answer for what I should put in answer to the question about who's paying for my "trip"? I know this has been asked before on here, but the answers didn't seem conclusive. Should I put myself (as I'll be paying for my flights), or my university (who'll be covering my living expenses once I'm there)?
– I don't have an address in the US yet: the school I'm going to don't give out grad housing offers for another few weeks, but I want to get my visa application underway and schedule an interview ASAP as I'm planning to move over there in mid-late August. Is it acceptable to do something like put the university's address, or do I need to wait until I've got an apartment sorted (and thereby have a mad last-minute scramble to get my visa sorted just before I'm due to fly out there)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hello!

I am going to be sponsored for my bachelor's degree by a friend in the US, however, my uncle in my home country is also willing to sponsor me. Does it matter if I were to put his name on my DS-160 form as my trip sponsor? But my friend is already listed on the I-20. Also, I've also received a partial scholarship from the college that I'll be planning to attend. 

Thank you in advance!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi! This is an excellent resource for all things visa. I had one question though. My wife is applying for an F2 visa to join me in the US. I had contacted my school's international student office concerning what funding I have to show for her and they have told me the amount, $6000/year. During her visa interview, will showing funds for only one year be enough or do we have to present funds required for all five years? As a side note, the funding the school gave me is $2000 more than the total required for tuition and living expenses. Will that amount be taken into account as a source of funding for my wife? Thanks for this thread, long time fan of this forum, first time posting. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎6‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 11:15 AM, TakeruK said:

I'm not the OP so maybe my experience was just one case and maybe @jujubea can give a more general answer. When I crossed on my DS-2019, the border agent did not look at any evidence of funding. My DS-2019 shows two sources of funding: my school and a NSERC fellowship. The border agent did not ask to see verification of the NSERC funding. I don't remember for sure whether or not they even looked at my letter of acceptance from my school. This letter does say there is funding but the numbers do not match the DS-2019 values because it lists the total funding, not the breakdown between NSERC and my school. Also, the DS-2019 "cost of attendance" value includes tuition and my letter just says "tuition waiver", not a dollar amount. 

No, Canadians are exempt from the visa interview so you just take your documents with you. If you are flying from a Canadian airport with US preclearance, then you actually "cross the border" in the Canadian airport. If you are doing this and you are extra worried, then you can come to the airport really early so that if you end up needing documentation you don't have, you can go home and get it and return early enough to catch your flight.

You do not need to show any proof of ties to Canada. Again, @jujubea could answer this better, but I think there is an understanding that most students like us would not own property. In the chance that they ask you what you plan to do after your degree, the correct (and honest) answer would be to return to Canada because it's unlikely that you already have a job offer that will allow you to stay in the US. I think at this point, they mostly just want to know that you are not using the student visa to try to attain some sort of US status because the purpose of the US visa is to be in the US for study.

If you are not doing a visa interview at a consulate or embassy you don't need to worry about any of these details, generally. It is good to be prepared to answer them in the strange chance that they come up, but generally the interviews don't get that deep at the crossing - unless something else has made them suspicious of you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎6‎/‎22‎/‎2016 at 6:40 AM, matscimike said:

Hi! This is an excellent resource for all things visa. I had one question though. My wife is applying for an F2 visa to join me in the US. I had contacted my school's international student office concerning what funding I have to show for her and they have told me the amount, $6000/year. During her visa interview, will showing funds for only one year be enough or do we have to present funds required for all five years? As a side note, the funding the school gave me is $2000 more than the total required for tuition and living expenses. Will that amount be taken into account as a source of funding for my wife? Thanks for this thread, long time fan of this forum, first time posting. 

Yes, you can use the $2k as part of the support of your wife.

You may or may not need to show funds for all five years. At the least, you may be required to show how you will be able to obtain those future funds in a timely matter if you do not currently have them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎6‎/‎14‎/‎2016 at 7:04 PM, jtly said:

hello!

I am going to be sponsored for my bachelor's degree by a friend in the US, however, my uncle in my home country is also willing to sponsor me. Does it matter if I were to put his name on my DS-160 form as my trip sponsor? But my friend is already listed on the I-20. Also, I've also received a partial scholarship from the college that I'll be planning to attend. 

Thank you in advance!

Be sure to include the partial scholarship from the college, and also your uncle in your home country. In my own opinion - which is only my opinion and not any official law or policy - the home country source of funding "looks better" than a US "friend" source of funding, because the latter shows a tie to the US, whereas the former shows a tie to your home country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, and actually, @TakeruK you are probably more qualified in ways to answer the Canadian and other non-visa-interview questions, since I only have personal familiarity with the more "rigorous" crossings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear jujubea;

I applied for an F1 visa in Turkey in order to pursue a phd in the US. The visa officer who interviewed me was very kind. He only asked me four questions, why I was going to the US, where I graduated from, what I will be studying and what my research will focus on. When he saw my I20, he realized the name of the university I will attend and spelled its name with some kind of admiration. Also, he specifically knew about the university I graduated from, because I heard him say "fantastic". I could easily tell how he found my profile to be very plausible. He said "good luck in Chicago" and gave me an approval paper. 

10 days later, I got my passport with an additional yellow paper indicating administrative processing. I know there is nothing left to do about it since I have been waiting for nearly 6 weeks since the interview and I even  had to defer my phd for one semester but I was wondering where my application got stuck since the officer initially gave me an approval. FYI, my name and surname are very common in Turkey and I will be studying computational drug design. Do you think these facts could have led the embassy to some kind of suspicion?

thanks in advance for your answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're going to hate this answer, but, it really is administrative processing. 

All applicants are subject to some "black box" (read, difficult to discern) regulations which occasionally cause these delays, with or without visa officer involvement. There is no way to know whether the VO was in some way suspicious of you, or if they needed to learn about something special to process your visa, or if there was some pre-existing regulation you got snagged by, or if the embassy or consulate had some unscheduled training or unpredicted workload increase for those processing student visas, or if some machine broke, or if there was even some kind of embarrassing paperwork error that put you in 221g purgatory... the last one happens more than anyone would like to admit.

You've got nothing to worry about, and even if you and up rejected you can always appeal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jujubea, can you tell me is there any really effective way to complain about a particular officer - somewhere in the US, not in the country where I applied?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On 8/17/2016 at 3:40 PM, betts15 said:

Hi Jujubea, can you tell me is there any really effective way to complain about a particular officer - somewhere in the US, not in the country where I applied?

Hmmm good question.

Depends what you mean by effective... what change do you hope to effect?

I would start with looking up the Consular Affairs Bureau in DC and see if there are any contacts listed there which sound appropriate. You might contact the regional director for example of the CA region you were in.

What happened that was so upsetting, if you don't mind sharing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/16/2016 at 9:16 AM, hkaya said:

Dear jujubea;

I applied for an F1 visa in Turkey in order to pursue a phd in the US. The visa officer who interviewed me was very kind. He only asked me four questions, why I was going to the US, where I graduated from, what I will be studying and what my research will focus on. When he saw my I20, he realized the name of the university I will attend and spelled its name with some kind of admiration. Also, he specifically knew about the university I graduated from, because I heard him say "fantastic". I could easily tell how he found my profile to be very plausible. He said "good luck in Chicago" and gave me an approval paper. 

10 days later, I got my passport with an additional yellow paper indicating administrative processing. I know there is nothing left to do about it since I have been waiting for nearly 6 weeks since the interview and I even  had to defer my phd for one semester but I was wondering where my application got stuck since the officer initially gave me an approval. FYI, my name and surname are very common in Turkey and I will be studying computational drug design. Do you think these facts could have led the embassy to some kind of suspicion?

thanks in advance for your answer.

To add -- I do recommend following up about once every two weeks or so to make sure your paperwork isn't stuck somewhere. There should be an email address or phone line on the embassy or consulate website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Jujubea;

Thank you for the explanatory reply. When I call the embassy in Istanbul, they say they don't have any knowledge about the process and that I should contact the embassy in Ankara (the capital) even though I applied in Istanbul. Also, I sent two e-mails to the embassy in the past and got the exact same reply which was a copy paste of the statement on their website. Are you sure if they even bother to read the e-mails? I already deferred my admission for January, but I am worried that I may never be able to get a visa at all. I don't know, I just have this feeling. And I am starting to think that applicants from Turkey (especially males) are mostly being treated this way because of the attempted military coup thing in July.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, hkaya said:

Are you sure if they even bother to read the e-mails? 

They do read emails, but when I was looking for info on my subject, my eye caught somewhere on their website that in case of administrative processing, you can't inquire before 60 days have passed - if I'm not mistaken, of course. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/21/2016 at 7:26 AM, jujubea said:

 

Hmmm good question.

Depends what you mean by effective... what change do you hope to effect?

I would start with looking up the Consular Affairs Bureau in DC and see if there are any contacts listed there which sound appropriate. You might contact the regional director for example of the CA region you were in.

What happened that was so upsetting, if you don't mind sharing?

Thanks for your reply. By effective I mean I want this officer investigated and myself vindicated if I'm right. Not sure if it's possible, probably not, but I want to give it a try. I don't mind sharing, but it's a long story and I'm not ready to make it public just yet. PM me where you worked as an officer and maybe I'll share with you privately.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/23/2016 at 0:16 PM, hkaya said:

Dear Jujubea;

Thank you for the explanatory reply. When I call the embassy in Istanbul, they say they don't have any knowledge about the process and that I should contact the embassy in Ankara (the capital) even though I applied in Istanbul. Also, I sent two e-mails to the embassy in the past and got the exact same reply which was a copy paste of the statement on their website. Are you sure if they even bother to read the e-mails? I already deferred my admission for January, but I am worried that I may never be able to get a visa at all. I don't know, I just have this feeling. And I am starting to think that applicants from Turkey (especially males) are mostly being treated this way because of the attempted military coup thing in July.

This sounds so frustrating - I am sorry.

If your email is something like "I want to know why I was rejected" or "What am I waiting for?" or "Is something suspicious?" or if it even hints of any of that, you are going to get the standard reply. You need to ask a non-standard question to get a non-standard reply. Emails are absolutely read, but many, many are responded to with a set of canned responses, since so many of the same types of questions come in. It is not humanly possible to respond specifically to every question ("How much longer will this take?") otherwise the world would see yet another increase in US visa fees to pay for all the extra diplomat work.... 

Also I just reread your original post. Since your name is very common, be ready to send in or bring in documentation showing very specifically who you are (student or other IDs, passports, birth cert, etc, as just some possible examples). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/23/2016 at 4:26 PM, betts15 said:

Thanks for your reply. By effective I mean I want this officer investigated and myself vindicated if I'm right. Not sure if it's possible, probably not, but I want to give it a try. I don't mind sharing, but it's a long story and I'm not ready to make it public just yet. PM me where you worked as an officer and maybe I'll share with you privately.

An investigation would only happen if there was some serious misconduct.

An officer will never get investigated simply for their decision--even if that decision were, say, ultimately based on race or class or any other 'discriminating' factor. The officers don't have to be politically correct, or even righteous, they just have to make a decision according to the law (which is not very nuanced and leaves lots of room to do things like discriminate).

Now, if they were cussing at you, spitting at you, or making obscene gestures, or worse.... then your complaint would surely get sent to the appropriate people. If they were doing common bureaucrat behavior (ignoring you, joking with their coworkers while you wait, being incredibly UNhelpful, being rude, or slow, or not forthcoming), your complaint will surely not be sent anywhere.

In either case, my original advice still holds -- if an investigation is what you want, contact the Consular Bureau and appropriate sub-section/department for your region. The info is available with minimal digging from the main State Dept website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, jujubea said:

This sounds so frustrating - I am sorry.

If your email is something like "I want to know why I was rejected" or "What am I waiting for?" or "Is something suspicious?" or if it even hints of any of that, you are going to get the standard reply. You need to ask a non-standard question to get a non-standard reply. Emails are absolutely read, but many, many are responded to with a set of canned responses, since so many of the same types of questions come in. It is not humanly possible to respond specifically to every question ("How much longer will this take?") otherwise the world would see yet another increase in US visa fees to pay for all the extra diplomat work.... 

Also I just reread your original post. Since your name is very common, be ready to send in or bring in documentation showing very specifically who you are (student or other IDs, passports, birth cert, etc, as just some possible examples). 

Hello Jujubea;

I understand your point but I was trying to write my e-mails in the most original and unique way possible. I even quoted Obama in one of my e-mails (I think he once said Muslims should not feel like second class citizens or something like that).

Anyways, So are you saying they might still ask for additional documents after weeks have passed? That sounds cruel. I booked a month-long trip to south Korea and Japan and I will be away during October. I am going to return in the first week of November. If they do ask, do I have to send documents right away or would there be a deadline? Also, will this administrative processing nonsense affect entrance to other countries? (Japan and SK do not require a visa for Turkey up until 90 days but I want to make sure)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, am applying from Nigeria. I got accepted into 2 schools in the USA and 1 in England. The question is that hope my B2 refusal will not affect my F visa? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/8/2016 at 0:11 AM, hkaya said:

Hello Jujubea;

I understand your point but I was trying to write my e-mails in the most original and unique way possible. I even quoted Obama in one of my e-mails (I think he once said Muslims should not feel like second class citizens or something like that).

Anyways, So are you saying they might still ask for additional documents after weeks have passed? That sounds cruel. I booked a month-long trip to south Korea and Japan and I will be away during October. I am going to return in the first week of November. If they do ask, do I have to send documents right away or would there be a deadline? Also, will this administrative processing nonsense affect entrance to other countries? (Japan and SK do not require a visa for Turkey up until 90 days but I want to make sure)

I can certainly tell you that quoting Obama is not going to help you any. It might make for a nice quote in a letter to a newspaper or somewhere else complaining about the process though. 

Yeah, it's possible they could ask for more documents after the waiting, but it's also possible they won't. 

Definitely take your trip(s) as planned, I wouldn't worry about anything there. The more you travel, the better, in my opinion.

Whether or not there is a deadline for extra docs depends on what kinds of docs they're asking for....  

Ah, bureaucracy. Treating humans like non-humans since...the birth of humanity.

Sorry for your woes - keep us posted what happens. And enjoy your trip it sounds awesome! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now