strong ties and the f1 visa studentF1 Visa Interview All About Strong Ties

and Returning Home

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Welcome to what I hope is the most helpful and interesting thing you will read about strong ties and passing the F1 Visa Interview.  

There is a lot of information here on why you won't pass and how difficult it may be.

“The annoyance you ignore today only gets worse tomorrow. Solve it now.”
Auliq Ice

 So even though I will talk about the problems or obstacles, I assure you that you can do it!  

Every day I have students who are successful at getting their F1 Visa.  

I hope it helps you understand that by being prepared and understanding the laws that you will pass easily and study abroad in the USA.

I have included legal and actual Sections of the INA Act Section F and 214(b).  This is very important.  In fact it is the basis for not getting an F1 Visa.  This is a law that all Visa Officers must follow when they evaluate you during your interview and look at your paperwork.

"This section states that all applicants for visas be considered as wanting to

Immigrate and stay in the USA forever" 

Therefore if you cannot prove you will return home, you are rejected.

You will learn and understand more about the theory involved, how decisions are made by visa officers, why some answers are just not good, how you can think differently and pass the F1 interview Strong Ties Questions, and finally how you can find your perfect answers to questions and prepare answers.


will yu reeturn homeWhat are your Strong Ties?  Why will you return home?   Will you return home after studying?  What important things do you have at home that will make you want to return?  Why must you return home? Convince the Visa officer why you will go home after studying in the USA.  

All of these are asking the same question, perhaps the 2nd biggest cause of getting a 214(b) Rejection or failing the F1 Interview.  I usually think paperwork is the first, but maybe strong ties is actually the first.   Your documents must be acceptable and your interview must show the Visa Officers that are a real student.  

 Most or Many F1 Visa Students would prefer to stay in the USA and eventually bring their families to the USA. This is one of the common ways to gain immigrant status.  You have to remember that the F1 Student Visa is for nonimmigrants.

The official USA publication use the word compelling to describe students "must have compelling reasons to return to their home country" .  "Compelling" is not an ordinary everyday word.

Compelling Reasons to Return Home: Compelling defined is "not able to be resisted; overwhelming, not able to be refuted, 

Synonyms (similar words) of compelling:

convincing, persuasive, cogent, irresistible, powerful, strong, weighty,plausible, credible, sound, valid, telling, conclusive, irrefutable,unanswerable


practice in the mirror

Look in the mirror when you practice this answer.... are you believable?  Compelling?  OR Are you thinking "I hope they believe me".  

Compelling is not maybe or perhaps.  It is for 100% sure with no doubt at all.  Visa officers are very well trained to see any doubt in students attitude.

Money and ability to pay you can prove with paperwork, although many rich students fail for other reasons.  Compelling is not something you can quantify.  You have to prove and convince them.

 This is an incredibly interesting law and approach if you ask most Americans.  One of the basic rights and great things about America is that there is a law that states "You are innocent until proven guilty".

 This section 214(b) states if I can paraphrase " You are proven guilty (will not return home) unless you can prove to me you will.  

Scroll down the page to see the actual text of the law that affects so many nonimmigrant students and what they mean in normal language.

Before we get into how to express your strong ties I want to make sure you understand that no matter what any service or friend tells you. It is important to pass the F1 Visa Interview the first time.  

Sure you can apply as many times as you want.  Each time will make it more difficult.  Even the 2nd try at overturning a 214(b) F1 Visa Rejection is VERY difficult.  

If the reason was lack of some paperwork or something you can produce more evidence and documents you have a chance.

 If your going to try and improve on your original documents and story and presentation, it is likely a waste of money.

 For a Second Interview make sure to be clear about what has changed, and have documents to prove the change.  

Otherwise the law remains the same and Visa officers have good records of what you said before and why you failed.  They are most likely to agree with their peers as their training and orders are the same.

In order to pass the F1 Visa Interview in order to study abroad you must know how to answer the “Strong Ties” questions.   Honestly

Strong Ties to your country is often asked in ways you may not realize.  the impression about you comparing you to the other thousands of students they have interviewed.  

The  best and normal answers to these question must be that you have Assets money such as bank accounts, or houses and real estate, or businesses to return to.  

There are also social and cultural reasons to return home such as family, love, friends, relationships, business networks, or possibly marriage.  

Low cost of living is also a great reason.

This article will cover the different aspects of proving strong ties: Family, Family Businesses, Love and Marriage, Property and Bank Accounts, Job Offers, Current Employer References and Offers,  Religious Motivation, Cultural Motivation, Patriotism, Future Plans in Your Country, and Pictures.  

Pictures tell a story in a second and better than you can explain.  they say one picture says a thousand words.

pic of happy family back home 1
pic of happy family back home 2
pic of happy family back home 3
pic of happy family back home 4

What do you see and notice in all these pics?  Many generations, happy times, traditions, holidays, your family....none of these can be the same in the USA. 

You can earn money, but you can't buy family and good times like these.

If you are serious about getting an F1 Visa one of the best things you can do is have property that cannot be transferred to the USA.  Houses, land, and rentals are all excellent examples of property.  Transferring property takes time so if you want to do this plan ahead of time.  it wont look good if you have property transferred into your name only a short time before your interview.  

Not many people give up property willingly.  This is a compelling reason to return.  Also, even if you make good money in the USA, real estate is expensive and if you already own a home in your home country living will be even less expensive and your salary wil be comparatively higher.  

Is living in the USA more important than seeing your nieces and nephews grow up?  do you want to miss your grandparents aging and unfortunately dying before you get to see them again?  Are your parents old?  

I know your family only wants to provide you a great future and do not think of themselves.  But you can think of how important your family is to you.  

Job offers and your future working in your home country.  This topic will be a little controversial.  I have previously said that often times jobs pay much less in your home country than in the USA.  You can be honest with the Visa Officer.  Sometimes a job's salary isn't the only way a director or officer or official can make money.

 In many countries around the world there is an age old system of paying an extra unofficial fee in order to get a license, a permit, build something, do business, or even live somewhere.  I have had many students from around the world confidentially tell me that they are very rich due to this although the family may not be able to show a high salary on paper.  In most of these places these jobs that can get extra money are given to children and family.  You can be honest at your discretion.  It is probably safer if the Visa Official is a US Citizen than a local person!

Who can help you? How can you prepare these answers?  The first thing you must do is to have your paperwork in perfect order.  Often students have a problem or mistake, or something that seems unusual and go to the interview not knowing they already are considered a risk of staying in the USA.  

But after your paperwork is perfect how can you answer this question?   Even students who want and will return home fail for this question.  

We all can speculate and try and figure out the perfect answers and solutions but the F1 Visa Officers will not say exactly what they want.  They will see how they feel how about you and whether they think you are a risk.  They see thousands of students and can know easily.  

How do they know?  No one is sure except they are trained and think about this:  In your country if you go somewhere new and do not know anyone, you will know immediately if there is someone you should avoid.  How do you know?  If you are attracted to someone, it happens immediately yes?  How does it happen?  You have a feeling.  You just know.

 Have you heard the saying "trust your gut, or trust your instinct"?  It is actually more scientific because you are being compared in three categories:

The Profile the USA Government knows are good students.   What the US Government tells the visa Officers to beware of, and other students and how they act at the interview.  

What do you know about any of these?  We can study other students experiences and talk to officials and learn some very important things.

 In order to get an F1 Visa student must prove "Strong Ties" to their home country. This is the reason they will return home.  

Many students want to stay in the USA.  This causes a big problem because it is difficult to lie at the interview.  

The visa officer will know if students are lying.  

At the same time, students can't tell the truth and say they would like to stay.

 So, you can not lie, can't tell the truth...what can you do?

Change Your Thinking

Now Think: I'm Coming Home

An often overlooked reason is that a university degree from America is valuable and respected in your home country.  Respect and Prestige are very important in families and in life.  

A huge problem I often see is the amount of time a student has to prepare.  Many students wait until the last minute to accept a scholarship, or to apply to schools.  This leaves about a month before they must report to school.    

Students are in a rush and cannot prepare properly.  You must be very careful with your documents you submit to the Embassy and what documents you take with you to prove your stories.

F1 Visa Strong Ties Infographic

The Visa Officer is Required to think you will stay in the USA.  This is USA law.  

You must convince them you will return home after studying.  They must believe you.  Try looking in the mirror and answering, do you believe you?

does it sound crazyYounger applicants will often not have the economic, business and real estate ties to home, but they have stronger ties emotionally.  

Older F1 Visa Applicants may have a house and a business, but may not seem like they want to return to these. there longer term plan is in the USA.  

Regarding what you are studying, why are you studying it?  For example if you are studying nursing, if you stay in the USA you can make really good money.  The country I am teaching in currently, nurses earn less in a month than a nurse back home in the USA earns in a day or two.  So you have to think, is it a good idea to study this and say I am going to return home?  You can always say you want to help people in your country, but not everyone is that nice and altruistic.  

Another example of how controversial the interview is that some advisers tell you to have a letter from an employer offering you a job for higher pay when you return after studying.  Think about how much the offer is for.  Many low paying jobs in the USA are actually higher than the pay for much higher positions in a student's home country.  Now you must include information about cost of living in your home country and your network along with your "job offer".  Higher pay is not a good reason.  Comparatively it is lower.

Another issue we have identified that students have is not understanding the job situation in a persons home country, and thinking the Visa Officer doesn't know a lot about the job situation.  Jobs of the future where I am teaching now are in hospitality, tourism, and trade.  What are the salaries to start and how can you make your salary a high salary?    Example:  I know tour guides who make a few dollars a day and a few extra in tips because of their English Level and who they take on tour.  I know others who can make $4~500 a day if the tourists are from the USA, shop and buy many things, and work for a good tour company.  These are few and far between.  Will you be able to use your studying in America to get one of these jobs?  Then it is a good plan.  To study and earn a few dollars a day is not a good plan no one will return to.

I hope you are beginning to understand that on one very important level, your studies must have a monetary payback.  Your education is an investment in your future.  Is it your future in the USA or your future back home?  Remember I  told you to stop thinking about staying in the USA for now?  

Here are two resources with the language of the INA Section F and Section  214(b)  begin copied resources: These are intended to help you understand these important sections that everyone quotes and effect your studying outcome but may be difficult for you to find or understand.  

Immigration and Nationality Act TITLE I


The black font is the original legal text.  The Red Text is a non legal text in normal words.  the legal text is the one that is important.  the red text is to help you understand if English is not your native language.

F)(i) an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning, you have a house at home that you will not leave who is a bona fide you are a real student student qualified to pursue a full course of study  your study matches what you have studied in the past and are prepared for and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily you want to study in the USA fora  short period of time and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study consistent with section 214(l) your school must be registered with SEVP at an established college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program in the United States, particularly designated by him and approved by the Attorney General after consultation with the Secretary of Education, which institution or place of study shall have agreed to report to the Attorney General the termination of attendance of each nonimmigrant student if you stop going to school the school must report to the USA Government, and if any such institution of learning or place of study fails to make reports promptly the approval shall be withdrawn, and (ii) the alien spouse and minor children of any such alien if accompanying him or following to join him your family;  

Here is the explanation of 214(b) copied exactly  from resource

INA Section 214(b) - Visa Qualifications and Immigrant Intent

What does a visa denial under INA section 214(b) mean?

This law applies only to nonimmigrant visa categories. If you are refused a visa under section 214(b), it means that you:

  • Did not sufficiently demonstrate to the consular officer that you qualify for the nonimmigrant visa category you applied for; and/or
  • Did not overcome the presumption of immigrant intent, required by law, by sufficiently demonstrating that you have strong ties to your home country that will compel you to leave the United States at the end of your temporary stay. (H-1B and L visa applicants, along with their spouse and any minor children, are excluded from this requirement.) 

What are considered strong ties to my home country?

Ties are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your home country. Strong ties vary from country to country, city to city, and person to person, but examples include:

  • Your job;
  • Your home; and/or
  • Your relationships with family and friends.

While conducting visa interviews, consular officers look at each application individually and consider the applicant's circumstances, travel plans, financial resources, and ties outside of the United States that will ensure the applicant’s departure after a temporary visit.   

End of copied resources.

We want to wish all students the best of luck in studying in the USA.  The education is great, food is better, and everything is clean and modern.  But is may lack the excitement and interesting food of your home country.  

If you need help preparing for the F1 Visa Interview, please contact us.  We are happy to help evaluate you to see if you can currently pass the interview, and help you improve your answers. 

 I also can help with 214(b) Rejection Recovery and Analysis