A primer of finance documents for a student visa interview


Student visa is the last and most important document you need to go abroad for education. Visa can be difficult for some international students. You can’t predict the embassy’s decision.

For countries like India, student visa approval rates are estimated to be less than 50%.

You can only prepare and hope you get it. The wait for visa after submitting documents at the embassy is agonizing after you spent months preparing for tests, writing essays, and getting letter of recommendations. It also cost you a lot of money to apply to multiple schools and you finally got accepted to your dream school. If you don’t get the visa, then everything else is useless.

A good financial story can increase your chances of securing a student visa.

Here, we give you an overview of the common finance documents for student visa applicants:

Let’s start with a “safe amount” before going for a student visa interview.

It is highly recommended that you have funds for the entire duration of your stay as mentioned in your I-20.

For most of the university programs, the duration is 24 months. Normally, I-20 has the gross amount for the first 12 months of your course and thus we advise you to have more liquid funds available for the interview. If your course is longer than it’s best to have illiquid funds (if you don’t have liquid funds) for the complete course (even though the last few semesters are cheaper).

The funds that you show can come up in two forms:

  1. Liquid funds: These funds are either cash or can be exchanged for cash really quickly in the public markets. Normally, they are used to cover expenses for the first year. These funds should be enough to pay for both tuition and living expenses mentioned on your I-20.
  2. Illiquid funds: These assets usually cannot be exchanged quickly for cash but they can be sold over time. Make sure to not show illiquid funds to cover expenses for the first year of your course. Though, showing documents for assets like property can go a long way in building a case for strong roots in your home country. It also shows that you do not intend to settle in the country that you are seeking a visa for.

Liquid Funds:

  • Savings Account — This is the liquid cash in your normal bank account. Though it is a common practice for people to not have a big amounts in their savings account. A lot of people convert illiquid funds to liquid funds well before for booking their visa appointment. If you’re doing that, make sure that you have valid documents for the conversion. The essential documents you would need are bank statements, original passbook with all the latest entries and papers backing up the transfer of funds. If your bank offers online banking , you can also print a copy of your statement from your online account.
  • Fixed Deposits — Fixed deposits are deposits in the bank that yield a higher interest compared to interest rates on savings accounts. You can either show the principal amount or the current amount (principal + interest accrued on the principal amount) for the visa, but current amount needs to supported by proper documents. You can also show the maturity amount but the date of maturity has to be before the time you would need the funds.
  • Bank Loans — Indian banks have a good student loan programs for students going abroad for education. The amount and conditions may vary from bank to bank, so it is highly advisable to research and talk to multiple banks to get the best offer. Also, make sure that you have the supporting documents for the collateral shown. The Visa Officer would need the sanction letter and the name of the university admitted to.
  • Scholarships — Scholarships, in monetary form, are counted as liquid funds. These scholarships are not just specific to universities but also valid if given by charitable organizations both in India and abroad. Make sure to have the scholarship letter and documents for eligibility and your association with the scholarship awardee trust.
  • Shares — Shares of publicly traded companies are usually counted as liquid funds, but their prices fluctuate a lot, so make sure their total value is higher than the amount needed for first year of expenses. Ideally, look out for the rates of the share a week before the Visa interview and calculate accordingly. Be prepared to show your DMAT account details.

Illiquid Funds:

  • Provident Funds — There are fixed amounts that you can convert to cash at fixed dates. You can show only this amount as a part of your liquid funds while the rest gets counted under illiquid funds. You would need relevant supporting documents for the same.
  • Policies and National Saving Certificates — with their proper receipts and papers are considered illiquid funds.
  • Bonds — unless they are liquidated and converted to liquid funds will be considered illiquid funds.
  • Mutual Fund Investments — and other investments are also mostly considered illiquid funds (although some people consider them liquid funds).
  • Property (owned) — Immovable property like plots, apartments etc. are considered illiquid funds. For the interview, you will need property registration and ownership papers and the property has to be valued by a certified agent or a bank (which usually costs a little bit).

Additional Finance Documents:

Income documents of sponsors: You also need to present the annual income of your sponsors (parents/relatives/others). This is to validate that your sponsors can sustain themselves while sponsoring your education. You can also add income from illiquid assets as a part of the annual income for your sponsors.

Documents that you would need would include Income Tax receipt for the last 3 years, salary slips, and proof of any other income as shown.

Affidavit of support: One of the most important documents that you would need from your sponsor is the Affidavit of support. In the document, make sure you mention only liquid funds from your sponsors.

When going for the interview, make sure that you carry all your original documents, a fair number of photocopies, notary agreement, university documents, and finance documents.

Best of luck for your visa interview.


About Stilt:

Stilt provides loans to international students and working professionals in the U.S. (F-1, OPT, H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN visa holders) at rates lower than any other lender. Learn more about us on wikipedia or visit us at https://www.stilt.co. If you have any questions, visit https://help.stilt.co or send us an email at team@stilt.co.

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