1. The student has sufficient funds to finance his studies while in USA
2. The student is competitive enough to complete the course he has been accepted for
3. The student has minimum level of speaking English capability in order to survive academically as well as in daily life
4. The applicant has sufficient ties to his country or not that is, if he’s likely to be back to his country or not
In an attempt to find the situation of the students on above listed points the interviewer is going to form his questions. The visa interviewer does not have much time and normally the interview does not last more than 2-3 minutes. Hence it’s advised to be better prepared for the interview that is, keep your documents organized in a folder, and be concise and organized in your answers to the questions. Being better organized and prepared will increase your chances of getting visa.
As far as economics PhD applicants are concerned I would assume that not significant proportion of students would accept admission offers without assistantship. Those who are going without assistantship are required to submit a large amount of money at their disposal and they should provide authentic bank letter, passbook and other assets for financial availability.
I am surprised why a visa officer would try to determine if the student is competitive enough to complete the program he has been selected for. After all this is something which has to be determined by the admission committee and it’s not a mistake to assume that they can take better decision about the ability of the student to complete the program than the visa officers. Normally this is not a big issue. But this could create problems if you have any backlogs. In such cases you must be prepared to provide a proper reason if you are asked why you have any backlogs.
Normally the third issue is not a problem for those who have TOEFL or IELTS or some English test score. For that the score should be good normally better than what is being asked by the departments. But usually no one gets a visa denied on this basis unless you have real bad score especially in speaking section.
The fourth and final question needs good amount of space hence this will be discussed in next post. If you have any doubts regarding admission or visa process feel free to ask. I would welcome someone who can contribute by writing some guest posts regarding the specific visa process of the country you belong to. In general you are welcome to contribute to the whole admission process.