Nikultalks about how staying confident during student visa interview is key: ShikshaSuccess Stories

6 mins read2.8K Views Comment
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Apr 7, 2020 11:35 IST

Here is an account of Nikul's experience of getting an American student visa, and how the Shiksha Counselling services helped him achieve his dream of getting admission to the university of his choice.

Nikul got admission to Univeristy of South Dakota for the course Master of Science in Computer Science

Question: How did you come across Shiksha study abroad counselling services?

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Nikul Vyas: While I was researching American colleges online, I ended up on the Shiksha college listings page. There was a lot of information available about every university and course, and while going through that I came across the Rate My Chance feature. After I filled in the form with my details, I received a mail from my Shiksha counsellor detailing the services I will receive along with the fact that all of them will be completely free!

Q: Tell us about your visa experience. What was the whole process like?

NV: The American student visa process requires you to book two appointments – first, for your biometric details and second, for the actual visa interview. I booked both these appointments on consecutive days as I was travelling from my hometown to Mumbai for my visa interview.

I recommend visa applicants to visit the mentioned venue address beforehand so they don’t end up wasting time locating the offices on the day of the interview. The addresses for my biometrics appointment and interview appointments were within the same building complex, but different offices.

For the biometric appointment, I reached the venue two hours early, which was a waste of time. The way the American embassy plans appointments is very organized, it is mentioned in the appointment letters that you need to be present only 15 minutes before the appointed time. When my turn came, I had to get my documents verified first, and then I was required to scan my fingerprints and get a photograph clicked.

The next day was my actual visa interview. I reached the venue on time and there were three long queues of applicants. There were lots of screens in place displaying instructions to be followed. Once I received a token number, I was directed to an interview booth. Once it was my turn, the interviewer called me up to the booth.

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Q: What questions did the visa officer ask you?

NV: First, he asked about the college location, whether I know about the state, weather etc. I told him that I will be studying in South Dakota, which is in the north of the US, so the winters get really cold there. I mentioned the preparations I have done for the same. Then he asked about my choice of course. I replied in detail mentioning how my university not only offers MS in Computer Science, but it also offers a specialization in Human Computer Interface. Since this specialization isn’t offered at many universities, it makes this course unique.

Next, he asked when I finished my undergraduate course. I answered that and gave him details about my job, and the projects I undertook as a software developer. I clearly detailed why right now the best time for me to start my studies, and he agreed with my reasons. About the exams scores, he only asked for my GRE scores. I told him about my scores in Quant and Verbal sections along with the overall score.

Lastly, he asked about finances; how will I fund my education and stay. I had the loan approval letter from the bank, but the sanction letter had not yet arrived because of the demonetarization issue. After that, he asked if I have any further plans to which I replied that right now my focus is only cracking the visa interview. He typed on his screen for a couple of minutes and told me that my visa has been approved.

Q: Do you have any student visa related tips?

NV: The time gap between getting your I20 and the visa interview is really important. During this time you need to prepare yourself mentally for the interview along with preparing the file of documents required. It is important to go through the file contents multiple times to make sure all the original documents are there, because if in case you aren’t carrying any of the required documents it can create problems.

Once you receive your I20 from a university which may not have been your first choice, it is not advisable to wait for a reply from other universities. The timing of your student visa is very important. I made a mistake of waiting for 15-20 days after I received I20 from a university, hoping to hear from a university of my choice. Because of that I now have to book flights on a short notice, which makes them very expensive.

Most importantly, I would advise students to smile and talk in a friendly and relaxed manner with the visa officer. Being nervous is not going to help you, confidence is the key. In my case, my interviewer only asked for my I20 form and passport; he didn’t ask for any other documents at all. My Shiksha counsellor had sent me a guide to preparing for the visa interview and it helped me a lot. I feel there are lots of myths and misconceptions related to the student visa about how tough it is to get one. You need to ignore these negative conceptions as they will make the task of getting a visa seem impossible, which it isn’t.

Q: What are your honest opinions about the help provided to you by the Shiksha team?

NV: Shiksha is the only place which provided me all the services free of cost, and the best part is that I didn’t have to waste time and money on travelling to their office. Every communication was done online through emails, WhatsApp chat and phone calls. I credit the Shiksha team for my successful admission to the course of my choice.

The biggest help my Shiksha counsellor provided was shortlisting universities. I wasn’t able to shortlist universities according to my profile, so he provided me with a list of universities which were within my reach. Out of those, I shortlisted 13 universities based on the location and size of the campus. Apart from that my counsellor also helped me with preparing documents for the application process.

I’m very happy with the help I received in editing my statement of purpose and my CV. The Shiksha editors didn’t write these for me but helped me create them myself by guiding me. I have a lot of friends who had opted for paid services by other consultants where they don’t provide much help with framing the SoP, and they weren’t happy with the quality of those documents at all.

Q: Now that you have received your student visa, what are your next plans?

NV: Right now, I’m going to focus only on my academics. I have been enrolled for a Fellowship where I need to maintain a GPA of at least three out of four consistently through the first year. After that, I will have to apply for the fellowship formally and my performance will be reviewed. If I’m deemed competent, I will be receiving $1000 scholarship per semester during my second year.

Q: Do you have any advice for prospective international students?

NV: In the US, there is mainly demand for Computer Science engineers so I would suggest anyone wishing to pursue other engineering courses to consider Germany. Currently, the American markets are developing mostly in the Computers or IT sector. I know many people who studied other engineering courses in the US, but they have been unsuccessful in finding good jobs, while everyone who studied CS has managed to find a great job. So US is a perfect destination for CS engineers.

Read more Shiksha Success Stories:

About the Author
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert

With a plethora of knowledge of the education domain, Piyush Kohli has been involved with study abroad for over 5 years and counting. He comes with prior experience on the complexities of the study abroad applicatio... Read Full Bio


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