Hello guys, my name is Victoria, an atlas corps class 37 fellow from Nigeria! Today I want to offer some advice to anyone planning on applying for a non-immigrant visa from Nigeria, to the United States. This post will be focused on what to expect in your interview at the US embassy and how to behave.
Let me start with a little disclaimer by stating that I am not a consular officer, neither do I have any affiliation whatsoever to the US embassy. Everything I share is solely based on my experience and observation during my interview at the US embassy,
The first thing you need to note while applying for your non-immigrant visa is that the Consular officers are there to deny your visa. As sad and annoying as it sounds, this is the truth. I am not saying this to scare you, or to discourage you from applying, I am rather trying to encourage you that if you had tried before and wasn’t granted your visa, don’t be too hard on yourself. The majority of people who apply for the US visas don’t get it and trust me, this applies to those going to school, or conferences or anything.
In my case, after the interview was over and the officer was going to grant my visa, he literally had to stand up from his desk (this is the first time he stood up, and I was number twenty something on the queue when I joined the line, everyone before me was denied) went into a different office, to get the approval stamp. I was shocked when he arrived and gave me the news, because it dawned on me that all the while he was there, he didn’t have an approval stamp, he just sat there, questioned people, and told them thank you for applying, but no!
The second advice I will give to you is to not be intimidated. The very atmosphere at the embassy is meant to intimidate you. The way they have set up the interview room – like a bank, with everyone in a queue facing different directions and different counters, talking into a glass to the consular officers who are seated on the other side with a blank expression on their face, listening to the individuals as they try to convince them about why they should be granted a visa…
It was my first time at the embassy, and when I entered that room, the tension in the air was crippling, everyone was trembling, you could almost hear the heart beat of the person in front of you. All I heard were different voices, from different directions saying the same thing; “I am sorry we cannot grant you a visa at this time…” I remember murmuring a prayer that whatever consular officer I would be paired with would be a compassionate one… The one I prayed not to be paired with, was the one I was sent to, and from the first word that came out of his mouth… “How may I help you?” I almost chocked on my words. However, I had to remember to breath, because I had seen so many people walk into that counter with tension glaring from their voices, denied their visas.
My third advice is please, do not answer any question you were not asked. I don’t mean you should be vague when giving your responses, but as much as you can, be direct, go straight to the point, don’t try too hard to impress them and in your quest of trying to show confidence, don’t over do it because the downside of over confidence is annoying and desperation.
There was this guy that had his interview before me with a different consulate office, oh how I feel so bad for that guy. He had gotten admission into a university and was applying for a student visa. From the moment the guy started talking, I felt sorry for him, not because he was blabbing or timid but because I could tell that just like me, he was advised to be confident, and prove to the officer that he had done his research and knows what he’s talking about, and while that can be a good advice, it can go wrong very quickly if it is overdone. From the first question the guy was asked; “What can I do for you?” this guy went on, in a very bold, but really loud tone to tell the officer about how he started his quest for schools to pursue his masters, the obstacles he faced, the way he had done his research about schools in the US, how he is so confident that the untied states is the place he is meant to school and so on… He’s was the shortest interview I saw.
The last advice I will give, is that please give as much information needed / supporting document to ensure the consular officer that you will be returning after you are done with whatever is taking you to the US. The reason so many visas are denied is because of our reputation of leaving the country and never returning and this is what the United States kicks against. Therefore, it is paramount that you show them proof of binding ties to your country. It could be a letter from your employer, assuring them that you were granted a leave or that you will still have a job when you return, or your marriage certificate, or a land ownership document that you own, anything that shows that you can’t abandon your life in Nigeria.
There was this man that I met at the embassy who also went before me, below is an idea of how his interview went:
Officer: Why are you travelling to the US?
Man: To see my uncle
Officer: How close are you with this uncle?
Man: Very Close
Officer: When was the last time you saw him?
Man: 15 years ago
Officer: So why are you going to visit him?
Man: Just want to go see his family
Officer: Where do you work currently?
Man: I don’t have a job
Officer: Are you Married?
Officer: You have any kids?
Officer: Are your parents still alive?
Officer: Do you own any property here?
Officer: So where are you going to be staying when you get there?
Man: My uncle will host me.
Officer: And your ticket?
Man: My uncle will get them.
Officer: So, let me get this, you have no job, no family here, no property, no money, and you are going to visit an uncle in the US that you haven’t seen in 15 years just to see his family?
You can guess what happened next….
In conclusion, this experience I had was before the recent ban imposed by the US government on immigrant visa from Nigeria. Getting any visa has become much more difficult than it used to be. So please, before you decide to come to the United states, or any other country, have a purpose for going, if you’re coming to school, ensure you already have an admission and all the documents that proves that you are more than willing to return to your county when you are done. I believe if you have these, and put everything I have said into practice, you will be awarded your visa.
Thank you for reading.