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Nearly 40% of F-1 Student Visa Applications are Rejected. How Can You Increase Your Odds?

In speaking with students in the international community, we discovered that nearly forty percent (40%) of the international students who are fortunate enough to be accepted into the graduate schools of their choice at American universities are unable to attend those schools because their F-1 student visas are rejected. Many of the students prepare the applications themselves, and are consequently missing the information needed to prepare a strong application.  We discuss the reasons for these rejections, and ways to overcome those objections, below.

Why Are Applications Denied? There are many legitimate reasons for an F-1 visa to be rejected. First, the prospective student may not be able to prove that he or she intends on returning to his or her home country after the completion of the program. Or, foreign students may simply be unable to show that they can financially support themselves while in the United States. In other instances, an otherwise qualified applicant is rejected simply because he or she did not properly prepare for the interview.

A Little Planning and Preparation Can Go a Long Way

Consular officials have very specific criteria from which they make their determinations as to whether they will approve or deny an F-1 visa. While acceptance in a prestigious education program will help, it will by no means guarantee the prospective student a visa. Applicants for an F-1 visa should be aware of the requirements of the F-1 visa and prepare accordingly. At a visa interview, having the proper evidence to support a case will dramatically increase one’s chances of success.

While there are many things an applicant can demonstrate at a visa interview to establish a case, there are several key topics that absolutely must be addressed and supported:

1) Proof of Intent to Depart 

This is an issue that causes many prospective F-1 visa holders problems. Visa officers are instructed to assume that all applicants, for any visa category, intend to permanently remain in the United States, regardless of the temporary nature of the visa for which they are applying. It is up to the applicant to prove otherwise.

This is the case even if the applicant’s intent is to seek a more permanent immigration status at a later date. At a visa interview, unless the interview is for a Permanent Resident status (or certain special categories of non-immigrant visas), the applicant must show that he or she intends to return to his or her home country when the visa status expires. Any statement or evidence to the contrary, such as telling the visa officer that you plan on applying for a Green Card while in the United States, could mean a visa denial. To overcome the assumption that the applicant will remain in the United States permanently, clients should present evidence demonstrating continuing ties to their home country.

2) Proof of Financial Independence

Another issue that often arises when adjudicating F-1 visa cases is the issue of  prospective students’ ability to support themselves while in the United States. Visa officers will often reject applications if it is believed the applicant will not be able to support himself or herself, and may potentially depend on public assistance for healthcare and welfare. To overcome this, clients should present strong evidence that they have the funds to cover their expenses.

3) Documentation of Program 

Prospective students applying for F-1 visas will be provided with a Form I-20 from their educational institution. This form is generally sufficient proof of being enrolled in a qualifying education institution, but it is advisable to present further evidence of the educational program in case the visa officer requires more documentation.


We have provided only a brief explanation of the documentation that should be prepared for an F-1 visa interview. It is highly recommended that anyone preparing their F-1 visa interview materials educate himself or herself on the process, or speak to an experienced immigration attorney. It should also be noted that many embassies and consulates have specific requirements unique to that embassy or consulate. Therefore, it is important to review the requirements of the embassy or consulate where the interview will take place and prepare accordingly.

The F-1 visa interview process can be complex, yet with the right preparation, the interview will often be much less stressful and the chances of successfully obtaining a visa, greatly increased.

Do You Need Assistance With Preparing Your Application?

If you would like a more detailed explanation of the F-1 application process, or need assistance in preparing your case and practicing for the interview, please schedule a complimentary consultation with one of The Grady Firm’s attorneys. You can contact our firm by calling (949) 798-6298, scheduling an appointment online, or filling out a Contact Request Form.


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