What is a Visa?
Visa is a permission granted by any country (other than the country
whose passport you hold) to enter that country. For securing the
Visa of any country, you have to apply to the consulate office of
that country in Pakistan. Visa granted by a foreign country may be
of various types, with different conditions attached to each of
A Transit Visa allows you to stay in that country just for a
day or two, while a Tourist Visa may allow you to stay for
periods upto three months.
For a Business Visa, the periodicity of the Visa depends on
your need to stay in that country.
A student Visa or F1 Visa is granted to students and is valid generally
for the period of study ( including grace period). Almost all these
Visas will stipulate that you cannot take up a job in that country
during the period of your stay.
A H-1 Visa is granted to all applicants who have obtained the work
permit from INS allows him to work in the US.
Before granting you the Visa, all foreign embassies will insist on
your showing sufficient proof that you will have enough financial
means to support your proposed stay in their country. The embassy
will usually charge a fee for the grant of the Visa.
A Visa which could be for a single entry or more than one entry and
will be in the form of an endorsement made in your passport. It
states that you are authorized to enter that particular country
within a stipulated period stated in it. The immigration authorities
at the port or airport in the foreign country will allow you to
enter the country only if your passport shows that you have been
granted the required Visa.
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Tell me more about the Visa procedures to the US?
The Visas granted to
foreign nationals intending to visit USA fall under two broad
categories - Immigrant Visa and Non-Immigrant Visa . A
person holding an immigrant Visa can take up permanent residence in
USA and work there without any restrictions and can leave and enter
that country without Visa formalities. An Immigrant permit is
popularly known as the Green Card. (The official name of the Green
Card is the Alien Registration Receipt Card).
A foreign national can apply for an immigrant Visa to the United
States under various circumstances. Instances Include:
The US government has stipulated an annual quota for the grant of
Immigrant Visa status to citizens of various countries and these
have again been subdivided among applicants of various categories
mentioned above. There are always a lot of qualified applicants from
Pakistan for the US Green Card than the annual quota for this
country resulting in a long waiting list in all the categories.
- When he/she has lived in USA as a non-immigrant visa holder for a number of
years and has been permitted to take up employment there.
- When he/she is married to a US citizen.
- When he/she is married to another green-card holder.
- When he/she is willing to invest a stipulated amount in business or industry
- A green-card holder can periodically sponsor close relatives such as
father/mother/sister/brother for the grant of green card even while the latter
are still living in their home country.
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F1 Student Visa
The Visa granted to a Pakistani student planning to join a US
university falls under the "Non-immigrant" category, and is known as
an "F-1 Visa". The important stipulation of this Visa is that its
holder cannot take up a job outside the university campus during the
period of study and that he/she should leave USA at the end of the
period of study or if the study is discontinued earlier.
Local immigration authorities in USA can permit the student to take
up a job outside the university campus during the second year of
study provided the student can convince the local immigration
authorities that his/her financial situation has changed
dramatically necessitating his/her having to take up a job to
finance the studies. (A F-1 Visa holder can, however, take up
jobs within the university even during the first year. It is
possible to earn upto $500 per month from part-time jobs that one
can get within the university).
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When should one apply for the F-1 Visa?
The most important document on which your application for an F-1
Visa is based is on an official letter from a US university offering
you an admission called the "I-20. In addition to mentioning the
class (undergraduate or graduate) and the semester (Fall or spring)
in which you have been offered admission, this form will also
stipulate the estimated cost of your study for one year (inclusive
of tuition and other fees and the living costs.) and will also state
whether you are being offered any financial assistance. It will then
arrive at the net amount of financial means that you must
have for meeting the costs of study and stay for a year in the
If you have applied for admission in the Fall-semester starting in
September, you are likely to receive the I-20 form between April and
July in the same year. If you have applied for admission to a
number of universities, it is quite likely that you would receive
offers of admission from more than one university, depending upon
the reputation of each of these universities and your net cost in
each of them, you will have to make a final choice and then only,
make an application for the visa. You cannot secure a Visa on the
basis of the I-20 sent by one university and then join another
university, unless you get the necessary endorsement from the US
immigration authorities authorizing the change.
Having finally decided, which university to join, you can apply for
the Visa within 90 days prior to the reporting date mentioned in the
I-20 form received from that university. For example, if the
reporting date shown on the I-20 is 27th August, you can apply for
your Visa only on or after 28th May.
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The procedure to be followed in the consulate when applying for Visa.
- Once an applicant enters the consulate with all his documents, he has
to collect an application form called F-156 using which he has to apply for
Visa. Students are advised to carefully fill up the form as this would be
considered as a ready recokner during the review of your application for the
visa. Special attention should be paid when filling up the name and other
details pertaining to the passport as this would be used for printing the
details on the Visa if granted. This information should be accurate as in the
- The applicant will also have to pick up an envelope on which he has to
carefully fill in his address and telephone numbers. If granted a Visa, the
consulate would return all the documents including the passport in this
envelope. A courier fees of rupees ... in the form of DD or cash is accepted
at separate counter towards courier charges for delivering this envelope.
- The applicants are also advised on the public addressing systems in the
consulate to arrange all their documents in a particular order and then present
them at the counters.
At the first counter the officer would request to see your passport and the
demand drafts. After inspection, the officer accepts the DD amount
of ..... Rs. which is collected as Visa application fees and issues
a receipt for it. Along with this, the officer will also give the
applicant a 3-fold detachable pink counter foil with an identity
number that you need to carry along with your documents. After this,
the applicant has to proceed to the next counters for scrutiny of
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After submitting the Visa fees the applicants proceed to the
counters 1 to 5 as per their turn and submit their documents. The
consulate officer examines your documents and if required will ask
you to appear for an interview.
If asked to appear for an interview, the applicant has to take the
second counter fold of the pink slip that the officers at the second
counter gives, and then proceed to the consular hall. The applicant
has to take all his papers along with the conter foil of to join a
queue of applicants who are awaiting their turn for an interview. As
his turn arrives, the applicant is granted an interview at one of
the 5 counters.
In this instance you are not required to appear for an interview at
the time of submission of the application and the Visa will be
directly couriered to you. In this procedure all your documents are
retained by the consular officer and will be returned to you along
with the passport and the Visa.
In certain instances the mere acceptance of the papers at the
first counter does not mean that the candidate has been granted a
Visa. In rare instances the candidate is asked to appear for an
interview at a later stage if the consular officer is not convinced
despite the candidate's documentary evidence. Or may request the
candidate to submit additional documentary proof if required/or any
other proof /document if the instance deems fit under certain INS
procedures. But such instances are often rare.
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Another important procedure to be followed by students when
submitting documents is the submission of a institution's copy of
the I-20 to the consulate officer who would retain it and which
would be later sealed in an official envelope and returned pinned
to the passport. This envelope in sealed condition must be presented
to the immigration officer at the first port of entry into the
This procedure is generally followed without fail by the consulate
but in an exceptional situation may be missed due to human error and
hence the student should carefully check if the school copy of the
I-20 has been retained by the consulate. The student should also
check if he has received this sealed envelope when he receives the
passport with the Visa and the other documents.
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What are the documents that should be presented to the Consular Office at the
time of application for the Visa?
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- Form I-20 received from the university where you plan to enroll.
- Visa application form which you can obtain at the Consulate on the day that
you apply for your Visa.
- Visa application fee charges fluctuate from time to time depending upon the
value of the Dollar in terms of rupees. You must ascertain the exact amount from
the US Consulate when you take this DD. This amount has to be paid in the form
of a bank draft drawn in the name of the US Embassy or US Consulate. Please note
that the DD must be obtained from a public sector bank only and not from any
- One Passport size photograph in matt format. One photograph has to be pasted
on the Visa application form.
- Your passport, the period of its validity must cover a major period of your
proposed stay in USA preferably not less than six months.
- Reports (in original copy) of your score in the relevant entrance tests such
- Latest Degree/Mark Sheets.
- Evidence of financial support as described below.
- If financial assistance has been awarded by the university, but not
mentioned in the I-20, you must enclose the letter from the university offering
you such assistance.
If your sponsor (namely the person who guarantees to give you
financial support during your studies in USA) is in Pakistan, you
will need the following documents:
The decision on your Visa application will be communicated to you
immediately after the visa interview is over. If the decision is to
grant you the Visa, you will have to pay a visa fee. This can be
remitted in cash in Pakistani rupees at the cash counter in the
Consulate. So, you must take this money with you. If you wish to
obtain a Multiple-Entry Visa, you will have to pay a higher amount
as Visa fees.
- Sponsor's bank account statement showing the availability in cash of the
funds required to cover the expenses mentioned on the I-20 form for the first
year of study. (It will be advisable for you to take the pass-book also with
you, in addition to a certificate by the bank manager on the bank's letter head
certifying that Rs.xxxxx is available in the bank account as on the day of the
- An affidavit of support on a stamped paper for the sponsor promising to bear
the costs of your program for the entire duration of your stay in the US. The
document must have been signed in the presence of a Notary Officer and attested
- A certificate of verification of your sponsor's financial resources by a
registered Chartered Accountant. This statement should indicate that your
sponsor has the means to support you during the entire duration of your stay in
the US. All original documents for the sources mentioned in the statement of the
Chartered Accountant should be brought along to the consulate for verification.
- If the sponsor is in the US, the following documents must be provided Form
I-134 (available at INS offices in the US which your sponsor will be able to get
Bank Account statement of your sponsor.
- His/her salary statement.
- If the sponsor is in a country that is neither Pakistan nor the US, the
following documents should be submitted.
- Affidavit of support by signed by the sponsor.
- Bank account of your sponsor showing the availability of funds for the
entire period of study.
- His/her salary statement
Another popular method adopted by consulate is "Drop Box where the
applicant has to place all the relevant documents in a box and the
consulate officer will conduct the enquiry and if granted the
documents along with Visa and the passport is couriered to a
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Should the candidate fix up a prior appointment for applying for the visa?
No. The consular office opens at 7.30 a.m. (Monday to Friday, except
Public holidays) to receive applications and you can visit the
office on any of these days with all the required documents, and
make your application. (Since the Consular office can process only a
limited number of applications per day, it will be in your interest
to reach the consular office as early as you can (say by around
6.30) to file your application. (There is, however, no need for you
to sleep overnight near the gate of the office.) Mondays and Fridays
are usually more crowded than the other weekdays.
How long does a Visa interview last?
Not more than 3 minutes normally but in extreme conditions upto 15
minutes, though you may have to wait in the Consular Hall for over 2
hours before you turn comes.
Nowadays, this waiting time has been considerably reduced, as the
consular offices have started a new method to accept and return the
Visas. After a scheduled interview all your documents including the
passport will be returned by courier within 3 days at the latest.
This facility will allow you to come back after your interview while
the passport will be returned to you by courier.
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How long does the Consular Office usually take to give decision on the
If your documentation is complete, the decision on your application
will be communicated to you immediately after the interview is over.
If there is any deficiency in your documentation, or if the Consular
Officer requires you to produce additional information or
documentary evidence you may be asked to come again with the
required additional information. The decision, in this case, will be
given on the day of your second appearance. The Visa interview is
usually held in the morning and the Visa is issued by around 4 p.m.
What are the reasons for which F-1 Visa is usually refused?
The following are the reasons for which the Visa applications are
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- The candidate has not presented all the necessary documents as proof of
evidence. The Consular Officer himself/herself will ask you to come back with a
fresh application with the additional documents. If you produce the additional
information required your application will be re- considered.
- The candidate's passport is invalid, or is otherwise not in order and this
should be rectified under the new procedure, Pakistani passports are issued for
a period of 15 years. So, if you are going to get your passport only hereafter,
there should be no problem in this regard.
- The candidate's has not demonstrated sufficient financial means to support
his/her student in USA.
- The applicant has been purported as being a potential immigrant.
Note: It is your responsibility to prove to the Consular officer that you
or your sponsor such as parent has the required resources and is
committed to financing your education. You have not only to
demonstrate that the first year's requirement of funds is available
with you or your sponsor in the form of ready cash in a bank and
also prove that the additional requirements for the subsequent
period of your proposed study is available in the form of cash or
securities such as shares, company deposits etc that can be easily
encashed, for which a (Chartered Accountant's certificate must be
The US Code of Federal Regulation States, "An applicant for a
non-immigrant Visa shall be presumed to be an immigrant until the
consular officer is satisfied that the application is entitled to be
a non-immigrant status. The burden of proof is on the application to
establish entitlement for non-immigrant status and the type of
non-immigrant Visa for which the application is made"
- The mere fact that a US university has agreed to grant you admission does
not preclude the Consular Officer from arriving at his/her own independent
judgment on whether you are capable of pursuing a full time course of study in
USA. This is one of the reasons why we (INTERFACE) discourages students with
only 15 years of study from applying for admission for graduate studies in USA
as they may face a hurdle at the consulate. Similarly, candidates whose academic
performance has been rather poor in Pakistan (having received scores less than
50% in their college examinations) or whose GMAT/GRE scores are low, are also
likely to fall under this category, even if they have managed to secure
admission in a US university.
- The candidate's real intention is to immigrate to US permanently rather than
to study there temporarily.
- Even if all the foregoing conditions are satisfied, the Consular Officer may
still reject the visa application if he suspects that the applicant is a
potential immigrant. This is not because the US Government does not want such a
person to reach US at all but because a potential immigrant cannot be allowed to
jump the queue and reach the US ahead of those of the same category who had
registered earlier, just on the pretext of going there as a student (For
example, a Pakistani girl, who has had a consistently good academic record in
her studies so far, who has scored very high marks in GRE and TOEFL, and who has
secured admission in a high ranking university with financial assistance, may
still be refused an F-1 Visa if she has been engaged to or has just got married
to a green card holder in USA. This is because she is a potential immigrant, and
has to wait for her turn among potential immigrants of the same category. She
can continue her studies in USA after she gets the immigrant Visa according to
her own turn.)
The satisfaction of the Consular Officer is subjective and he
arrives at his decision within a period of a few minutes on the
basis of the documentary information you have given and the replies
that you give to his questions.
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The following statements, if made by you in your application, will make the
visa officer suspect that you are a potential immigrant:
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- If any of your close relatives (such as husband, wife, father/mother,
brothers/sisters, prospective husband/wife) are either citizens of USA or are
green-card holders, or are themselves as potential immigrants.
- If a substantial part of the expenditure on your studies is going to be met
by a relative or friend in USA or in some other foreign country. (This is
because the USA authorities do not believe that any relative or friend will
spend a large amount on y our education on a free basis, and therefore you will
be obliged to return the money to them in dollars which you will be able to do
only if take up employment in USA after the completion of your studies.
This is one of the reasons why, in such cases, you must try to
secure admission in universities where the cost of tuition and
living costs are low. On the contrary, if you are able to show,
through documentation and answers to oral questions that you have
very strong family, economic, business and professional ties in
Pakistan, the Consular officer may be satisfied that your intentions
to return to Pakistan at the end of your studies.
- In such cases, you should ask your relative/friend to send you the amount
beforehand to Pakistan so that it is shown as part of your local resources. With
the recent liberalization of grant of foreign exchange for higher studies, there
will be no problem in your converting this amount back into dollars once you get
the Visa. Since there should be no contradiction between what you state in your
application for admission to the university and what you state in the Visa
application form, do not mention in your application to the university that you
will be financially supported by somebody either in the US or in any other
foreign country, unless the sponsor is one of your parents).
- If the amount that you propose to spend on further studies in USA (even if
it comes from your own parents) is disproportionate to the benefit that you are
likely to get. (For example, if you have received I-20 from a university where
the annual tuition and cost of living is very high (say $15000 +$8000) resulting
in your having to spend over Rs.13 lakhs on a two year graduate course or Rs.26
lakhs on a four-year undergraduate course, the Visa officer will think that such
an investment will not be worthwhile if you return to Pakistan and take up a job
even on a salary of Rs.10000 per month).
- If the present family income is disproportionate to the amount that you
propose to spend on your studies. (For example, if you report that the income of
your father is Rs.4000 per month and the I-20 shows an expenditure of $12000 per
annum, the Visa officer will suspect, even if your produce bank statements to
prove that you have sufficient funds, that you cannot afford to incur such a
huge expenditure if your intend to return to Pakistan after the completion of
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Instances of strong business ties
- If you have a family business, and if you can show that your proposed higher
studies which would benefit that business.
Instances of Strong Professional Ties
- If you are being sponsored by your company for higher studies and the
company gives a letter that your higher studies would benefit the business of
the company and that you have signed a bond with them to work for them for a
minimum period after your return (Such companies must be well known ones and
must be having good reputation in the market. Such letters from small companies
or private limited companies will not be of much use in your Visa process.)
Instance of Strong Family Ties
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- Your being the only child or your being one of just two or three children
with both your parents and your siblings settled down in Pakistan.
Instance of Strong Economic Ties
Even if all the foregoing conditions are satisfied, the Consular
Officer may still reject the Visa application if he suspects that
the applicant is a potential immigrant. This is not because the US
Government does not want such a person to reach US at all, but
because a potential immigrant cannot be allowed to jump the queue
and reach US ahead of those of the same category who had registered
earlier, just on the pretext of going there as a student.
- You possess considerable land and property in Pakistan
Will taking a loan from a Bank in Pakistan jeopardize one's chances of
getting a Visa?
Not necessarily as long as the amount taken as loan and the
installments of repayment are not disproportionate to the salary
that you are likely to get in Pakistan when your return to Pakistan
after completing your studies in US.
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Dos and Don'ts during a Visa interview
A short note distributed by the "US Educational Foundation mentions
the following Do's and Don'ts for the Visa applicants:
- Remember that the issuance of a Visa is a privilege and not a right.
- Have a clear and realistic educational or a career goal. Be prepared to
state it at the interview if queried.
- Do not give vague and general answers to questions that are asked.
- Use the brief interview time to provide the specific information that would
strengthen your application and prove family, economic and professional ties in
- Do not misrepresent your career/educational objectives and specially your
ties to Pakistan or the state of your financial resources.
- Do not try to memorize set of answers to questions you think may be asked.
Instances of valid statements of educational and career goals
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- I wish to secure an MS degree in Computer Engineering and work towards a
Ph.D and take up a job either as professor in an Pakistani university or in an
- I wish to secure an MA in Economics, with special emphasis on Development
Economics. I then wish to be a teacher or alternatively try to join an
international organization such as the World Bank or Asian Development Bank.
- My intention is to earn an MS degree in Veterinary Science, with emphasis on
increase in milk production. This will give me opportunities to join big Milk
co-operatives in Pakistan.
- I want to specialize in cultivation of soybeans under tropical climate such
as Pakistan and have therefore decided to do my Ph.D in Agriculture.
Is it advisable to influence the US Embassy or Consulate through
recommendations by politically or administratively important
No. Visa decision cannot be influenced by anyone, however high and
mighty he or she may be. On the contrary, trying to bring such
influence may even jeopardize your getting the Visa on your merits.
Do not be taken in by any "consultant" or tout who claims that he
has influence over the US Embassy or Consulate and can obtain the
Visa for you.
What should I do if my Visa application is rejected?
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- If the application has been rejected for reasons that are rectifiable (such
as incomplete documentation or discrepancy in passport entries or the validity
of the passport not extending long enough), these can be rectified and a fresh
- If the application has been rejected for the reason that you have not shown
sufficient financial means, providing additional proof of finance can also
rectify this mistake.
- If the application has been rejected for any other reason, you can appeal to
a higher functionary in the Consular Office. The procedure of such appeal will
be available in the Consular Office itself. The appeal will usually be heard on
the same day or the next and a decision given thereafter.
- Even if your first appeal is rejected, you can make a written second appeal
with the required documents, without your having to appear in person before the
appellate authority. We know of a number of cases in which students who have
been denied visa twice earlier were granted the Visa in pursuance of the written
appeal. Therefore, you should try this possibility also if it becomes necessary.
- Do not be nervous when you go for the Visa interview. Remember that there is
a shortage of technical manpower of superior standards in USA and in spite of
the seemingly difficult Visa formalities, the US government in fact wants
persons with talent of high caliber to go for higher studies in USA and then
take up jobs there so as to make positive contributions to its economy. So, if
you have such credentials, you stand a very good chance of securing the Visa.
- Even if one your close relatives in USA or any other foreign country is
willing to extend financial support for your studies in USA, it is preferable
for him/her to send you funds required for the first year to Pakistan once you
get a favorable decision on admission and before you go for the Visa interview.
This will enable you to tell the Consular officer that you have the sufficient
financial resources in Pakistan itself to meet your expenses.
- Showing a distant relative such as uncle/aunt/cousin etc. as a sponsor can
also lead to problems at the visa interview, because US authorities would not
normally believe that anyone other than one's own parents or a brother would
spend lakhs of rupees on your education. Therefore, even if your uncle is
willing to help you financially, it is advisable that he transfers the money in
your name a couple of months before you go for the Visa interview, and you show
it as your own.
- Some universities insist that at the time you submit your application for
admission, you should also produce a certificate from your bank that you or your
sponsor have sufficient funds to meet your expenses for the full course of
study. Other universities may ask for such a certificate only after they take a
decision to grant you admission but before issuing the I-20 form to you. The
form of the certificate is usually prescribed by the university itself and will
be bound in the application form. Otherwise, you can get the certificate from
your bank manager in the following form on the letterhead of the bank, with the
seal of the bank.
Printing Errors in the Visa
- Generally the candidate is asked to submit the passport, the
correction details along with a self addressed envelope in which the passport is
returned to you. It is advised that the candidates takes personal care to see
that all the information pertaining to visa is accurate and is properly
validated. Any change in the Visa can be endorsed within 30 days of the date of
issue failing which the applicant has to make a fresh request and and
pay the prescribed fees.
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