According to the recently revised Foreign Affairs Manual, the Department of State has emphasized the need to ensure that foreign students coming to the United States for college education have an exit plan in place before applying for the F1 student visa. Consular officers will be looking for evidentiary documentation that reflects stronger ties back home that will encourage the student to return after completion of the course. This is another by-product of “Buy American, Hire American” order touted by the Trump administration. One way of executing it is interpreting the law more rigidly than they have in the past, this time with prospective foreign students.
What are the changes?
A consular officer must be satisfied that the F1 visa applicant, at the time of the visa application:
- Has a residence abroad – This tells the interviewer that the student has a place to go back to after the conclusion of his coursework.
- Has no immediate intention of abandoning that residence – The student’s present intent is assessed when the officer is convinced that the residence abroad is not going to be abandoned as a result of the college admissions and plans after that. This also determines if the student is using his or her period of study in the U.S. as a stepping stone to apply for employment with a U.S. employer at the conclusion of his or her studies.
- Intends to depart from the United States upon completion of approved activities – The consular officers are now expected to show minimal leniency when determining the student’s intent post-graduation.
How can prospective F1 students increase their chances of securing a visa?
- Students should be prepared for longer visa interviews.
- Students should have answers and documents ready and available to answer questions regarding long-term plans.
- Students working on OPT, or those for whom nonimmigrant petitions have been filed before graduation should expect increased scrutiny.
- The longer the absence from the student’s home country, often the more tenuous the ties become. It is not enough to simply provide an address of a relative and state an intention to return there upon completion of study.
- This would mean an ability to display stronger ties to their home country.
Ways to do that would include –
- proof of permanent employment;
- meaningful business or financial connections like family business holdings;
- close family ties;
- strong social or cultural associations back home;
- bank statements or
- proof of family property ownership.
Before ensuring that the student intends to leave the US after completing his coursework, it is important that he succeeds in securing the admission and the F1 student visa. Path2usa breaks down the steps on how to acquire a student visa.