Manners: It is sensible not to lean on the counter, put your elbows on the counter and talk. It is basic common sense.
- I feel the decision is made based on vital statistics on your file and is made even before the consular person begins talking to you. In case he decides to reject you, his questions are for the purpose of adding supporting data to your file - so that the next officer can get the context when you re-apply. In the event that he has decided to issue the visa he questions you in the random hope of finding something odd in ur answers to warrant a review (see #5, #6).
- GRE score seems to be vital in the decision making process
- Academic scores, arrears were also extremely vital. I listened in on atleast 50-60 interviews last year. They ranged from comical to heart breaking. Almost every MS visa applicant was asked if he had any arrears(FAIL grade in undergrad subjects). The question is merely academic because the officer has seen the transcripts before asking the question.
- Funding in the form of TA/RA virtually gurantees a visa. Unless you screw up on the next point.
- I saw a person getting dinged because he did not answer "why this college/ Why MS? " very well. I saw this question being asked to almost everybody. The answer should be fairly easy provided you spend 3-4 hours on the university's webpage and develop a story that is consistent with your background. However if you are a student like #6
- There was complete silence in the waiting area when one particular student was interviewed. He was from Andhra and seemed to have prepared well. A little over-prepared for his own good. When the officer started asking him questions, he stepped back a few steps and shouted the answers in military style. He was extremely loud and it looked like he was barking orders from a paper. His mugged-up answers were really funny. A giggle or two arose but it died when the consular officer said "I am sorry I cant issue you a visa sir".
- Finances: This is the least important part of the interview. But it does come into picture now and then. While parent's employment/salary was almost always asked, I did not see a single request for a bank statement.
- Having said #7, you have to do the leg work and beat your financial statements to shape. It is like "barriers to entry". You have to do it regardless of perceived importance.
- I feel the decision is made based on vital statistics on your file and is made even before the consular person begins talking to you. In case he decides to reject you, his questions are for the purpose of adding supporting data to your file - so that the next officer can get the context when you re-apply. In the event that he has decided to issue the visa he questions you in the random hope of finding something odd in ur answers to warrant a review.
- Brand name of the college you go to is extremely important. From discussions with my class/batch, the consulate folks clearly knew what the top 10 colleges were. You are guranteed a visa if you go to a top 10 school. You are in fact guranteed a 'special' appointment if you are late in booking appointments. Outside the top-10 - colleges with reputed name are usually a shoo-in.
- GMAT scores, work experience, other US visas in your passport are helpful. Though not as deal-breaking as #2.
- The fee is abnormally high. There s no way a sane person will have so much in a current account. Most colleges put their guranteed loan as source of funding in the I20. Do not worry about explaining away the loan. Its is rarely asked.
- If you arent going to a reputed college and do not have funding then it is better to have answers for all sorts of questions. Here GMAT etc becomes important.