US Student Visa Application / Interview Issues
January 23, 2022 9:21 AM   Subscribe

A Thai friend was recently accepted to a 3 month long English immersion program at a college in the U.S. Concurrently, he applied for a master's degree in education at the same college offering the program—and will almost certain be accepted. With regards to his Visa application / interview: (1) Does he need to book accommodation for the entire 3 months in advance? (2) Should he mention the master's application at his visa interview or would this be detrimental?

Any other tips for the application / interview would be very appreciated. He has a huge amount of savings, but I'm worried that the visa officer may deny his application since he doesn't have a substantial connection to Thailand in terms of his own family or house or anything like that.
posted by matkline to Law & Government (3 answers total)
Best answer: Your instincts are good. He needs to tell a simple and consistent story, with good documentation.

"I'm coming for a 3 month program at this institution. Here is the acceptance letter and the tuition receipt. I will be staying at this location. Here is the invitation letter (if staying with friends) or lease (if renting). I have a return flight (very important!!!) booked the week after classes end. Here is the ticket and reservation."

Of course, he can book refundable tickets and refundable accommodations. The important thing is to have a clear plan with documentation.

I would not mention the Master's program. That will ring the "abnormal: look closer" bell in the official's mind. They are on the lookout for visa over-stayers. He should not expect to enter on one visa for both programs. The longer program will likely qualify him for a different visa. He will likely need to leave the US and come back to enter on the second visa. This can be back home to see family, or potentially a short trip to Canada.

It would be much less expensive and more straightforward to wait for the Master's program acceptance letter. However, if he is eager to start this journey, that's ok too.
posted by dum spiro spero at 10:06 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]

What dum_spiro_spero said, except he does not have to leave the US before the Master's program.
He can apply for an adjustment of status while he is in US. This will allow him to start his Master's without leaving the country. However, if he goes out of the country, he will have to go for a visa interview and get the physical stamp of the visa on his passport to re-enter.
posted by WizKid at 11:51 AM on January 24

Yes, hopefully he picked a reputable program that is SEVP-certified. In that case, they should issue him with a Form I-20 or DS-2019 to apply for an F visa. Later, he can apply in-country for an extension of the F visa for the Master's program.

He will face scrutiny twice, once for the visa interview, and once at the airport on arrival.

For the visa interview, the officer will want to see academic records and proof of financial viability. The wait time for an interview is 3 days. Usually when you book an interview, they send an email with further instructions. They say not to book the flights until the visa is issued.

For the actual entry, the officer will ask about the return ticket.
posted by dum spiro spero at 1:35 PM on January 24

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