Know Your Customer



Updated June 8, 2022

You’re reading an excerpt of Admitted by Soundarya Balasubramani. Written by an Ivy League graduate from India, this is the proven guide for students worldwide looking to pursue undergraduate or graduate study abroad in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. Purchase for instant access to the guide and other exclusive resources—including sample SOPs, sample resumes, scholarship lists, and a private community with other readers.

There is an important term in banking called Know Your Customer (KYC). It refers to the steps taken by a financial entity to establish the identity of the customer, verify that their funds are legitimate, and assess them for risk of money-laundering in the future.* Without going through a thorough KYC process, the bank might expose itself to possible fines and reputational damage in the future.

Similarly, when it comes to visa interviews, the consulate goes through a KYC process where they screen you for a few things. Read what the USCIS has stated on its website under student visas:

You may enter in the F-1 or M-1 visa category provided you meet the following criteria:

  • You must be enrolled in an “academic” educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program

  • Your school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement

  • You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution

  • You must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency

  • You must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study

  • You must maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of giving up

We highlighted the last two points to show their importance. The two main questions that your interviewer looks to answer in your interview are:*

  • Do you have sufficient funds available to support yourself throughout your course of study?

  • Are you going to the U.S. (or another country) with the intent of studying and returning back to your home country?

If the answer to either of those questions is no, your visa will not be issued.

danger The two most common reasons for a visa denial are insufficient funds and indication of immigrant intent. Pay extra attention to the upcoming sections to ensure you present sufficient proof.

Insufficient Funds

If you don’t show sufficient funds for at least the first 12 months of your studies, along with indications on how the rest of your studies will be funded, they will most likely reject your visa.

How to Avoid

First and foremost, your funds must be in the form of liquid assets: either cash or something that can be converted into cash immediately. This is what Ilono Bray, an award-winning author and legal editor at Nolo, says:*

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