BY BOB MWITI
Today I would like to discuss a persistent problem a lot of us Africans wishing to study abroad fact. Student visa denials!
Well, I was denied visa 4 times before I finally managed to get one to study in 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.
Still on this, please note the US government values graduate students more, so try to come here for either master’s or PHD.
If anything, it’s better to come here when you are more matured. Also, undergraduate studies can be very expensive, so finish undergraduate in your country then move here for your master’s.
It’s also easy to be funded for graduate studied. You can get a student loan for masters and most PHDs are actually fully funded via graduate/research assistantship scholarships, especially STEM programs.
STEM is acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics!
So, avoid coming to those community colleges and undergraduate level studies.
This now takes me to the next point!
- You MUST have your finances. This is arguably one of the other main reasons why Africans get denied student visas.
You will find that majority of the people will look for a bank statement from anywhere and then present to the embassy claiming their Uncle, Aunty, or Cousin is supporting them!
This is the stupidest thing we keep repeating all the time.
The first thing the visa officer will ask you is “Why would your uncle pay for example 5 Million KES for your education?”
In reality, there is no Uncle/Auntie/Cousin who will pay for you that large amount of money for your studies even if they were loaded…It’s just so obvious! Please use your common sense!
The only person who can pay that kind of money for your education is only your parents! Unless you are sponsored by an institution. .and not an individual!
So, this craziness of getting bank statements from all kinds of sources should STOP!
If you are a REAL student, you should have REAL funding for your studies.
Never try to come here thinking you will work and pay for your school fees. It’s almost impossible. The moment you show real funding then you won’t have a problem getting the visa.
So, then the next question is how do you get to show real funding? The easiest way is to get an unsecured international student loan.
There are lenders out there who offer these loans and you will get an approval letter that you will take to the embassy and believe you me that is what the visa officer wants to see. These lenders usually support master’s students. You can find some of them at www.appstecamerica.com
With that letter, you will get the visa. You only take the letter to the embassy, not bank statements.
I have handled so many cases of student visas and those with student loans are almost always guaranteed student visas.
A student loan just shows you are a serious student who is ready to do anything to pay for education the US.
So please stop this madness of getting bank statements and claiming it’s from your Uncles, Aunties and Cousins!
Even if your Uncle was to pay for your education, DO NOT bring that story to the embassy. You will be disappointed.
Finally, confidence is KEY. Americans are mostly very confident people, and to some extent they expect the same from anybody who is seeking a student visa.
Confidence comes with hours of preparation and of course having the right supporting documents for your case!
So don’t go there and start talking in a submissive way to the visa officer. Have the energy and talk in a very convincing way about your program of study and you will come out victorious.
If you read this all the way here, I wish you good luck in your journey. I was in your shoes at one point in time, but I never gave up. But be smart about these things. There is no other magic about getting a student visa, you just must put in the effort needed.
See you soon on this side!
A little bit about me,
I am the co-founder of The KENYA Airlift Program. An award-winning initiative that helps brilliant Kenyans find amazing education and job opportunities in tech space in the USA.
- In 2018, I was recognized by African Warrior Magazine as one of the 40 most inspiring Kenyan Men living in USA.
- In 2019, I was recognized by Kenyan parents living and working in USA as one of the US diaspora Kenyans who made a difference to the community.
- In 2019, I was featured on KTN’s daring abroad program.
- In 2020, I was featured as a contributor to the technology segment on one of the largest international TV stations in the world, Voice Of America (VOA)
- In 2021, I was featured on NTV’s daring abroad program.
- In 2021, I was awarded the 2021 Global Impact Award by the International Council of Educational Professionals (ICEP) for promoting international education through the Kenya Airlift Program.
- In 2021, I was featured as a contributor to the technology segment on one of the largest international TV stations in the world, Voice Of America (VOA)
To learn more about my company’s amazing programs, please go to http://www.appstecamerica.com