I was denied a visa 4 times before I finally managed to get one to study in the USA.
Statistics show that ONLY 30% of Africans get visa approvals to study in North America i.e. US & Canada. Yes, only 30%.
That paints a very gloomy picture for any aspiring international student.
So, what does that statistic really tell you? It means that when you get into that embassy door for the visa interview, majority of the people you will find are those with teary eyes holding the dreaded pink slips. It’s the reality! But you don’t have to be part of that statistic though if you play your cards well!
Having been engaged as a consultant for those interested in studying in USA, I have a solid experience on student visa matters, and I am here to share information that hopefully will give you an edge when it comes to getting US student visas.
First, please know that the US loves and appreciates international students.
Yearly, about 1 million international students join various universities in America…That says it all!
Education in the US is world class, and the country sells itself to the rest of the world as the destination for higher education because they want to attract the best talent out there.
Schools here can’t survive without international students. In fact, they charge double tuition fees to international students, so they really need them.
So, what this means is that, if you can show that you are a REAL brilliant student, then you should not have a problem getting a student visa.
Now, the questions then are how do you show that visa officer that you are REAL brilliant student? And what does it even mean by REAL?
By law, visa officers are mandated to assume that anyone seeking a non-immigrant visa such as a student visa has an intention of migrating to USA and not returning.
So, it’s up to you to prove to the visa officer that you are a student who will be going to school and is not just seeking a student visa as a means of landing in America.
Unfortunately, many Africans intention of seeking a student visa is not to go to school but to just land in the US and look for work.
We’ll, guess what? The embassy knows this. They have all the data that shows most of us Africans rarely go back.
However, having said that, always remember that, In fact the student visa has a clear path to citizenship because the US government love the best brains to remain in the country after studies!
In fact, many innovations have been accomplished by ex-international students. See the likes of Elon Musk, google CEO and many more.
The US government offers work visas and employment-based green cards to those who graduate in the US and have skills to solve complex problems for America that most Americans don’t have.
So now, how can you increase your visa approval odds?
You MUST show you have a good knowledge of what you are coming to study…i.e., you must be able to articulate very well the finer details of why you are coming to study a certain program and why specifically that school.
Regarding this, they will ask you whether you also applied to any other school, and your answer should always be YES. And of course, have maybe 2 names of other schools with you.
Also, you should be ready to explain why you chose that specific school and not the others.
This is because a REAL student will take time to do research about a school and the program of study.
Also know the units you will study especially in your first semesters. You can’t claim you are coming to study something and yet you have no idea of some of the units you will do. Do your homework!
Still on this, if you have already done your undergraduate, you should NEVER try come to a community college or another undergraduate.
Many Africans out there are misadvised to come to community colleges just because they are cheap.
A REAL student who has an undergraduate degree already would come for a master’s and not to a community college.
Also, another mistake many do is that they try to come to study for something unrelated to what they did previously. This is also a recipe for denial.
For example, don’t come to a community college to do nursing and yet you already did a BCom for your undergraduate.
This community college-nursing story is very common within our community and almost always ends up in tears to the visa applicant.
If you are so desperate to do that nursing undergraduate degree, get accepted to 2 programs from the same school i.e., a nursing undergraduate plus a masters tied to your previous bachelor s degree, then use the master’s to seek the visa and then once you land in the US, transfer to that nursing programs.
However, If you have done an undergrad, you should always come for a masters. Anything to the contrary will get you a pink slip.
By Bob Mwiti, founder and the managing director of APPSTEC AMERICA LLC