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What to Wear for the US Visa Interview

student visa
advice for students
By Deshan Mendis
Published on January 26, 2022

The dress code matters for your visa interview: Learn how to make a good impression before the interview even starts with appropriate US visa attire.

A female international student in a suit with documents in hand, on a call about her visa interview

Dressing for any important event, like an interview, can be stressful. You want to look professional and appropriate – the dress code matters in a visa interview in particular. Your visa interview is an important required step toward obtaining your student visa, and how you dress for it can impact how you feel — and how your interviewer perceives you.

When you are nervous, the process of choosing what to wear for your US embassy interview becomes even more challenging – but we are here to help! Read on to learn more about the dress code for a US consulate interview, including what to wear for a US embassy interview, US visa attire, and options you can consider when picking out your interview outfit.

Choosing Your US Visa Interview Attire

Dress code matters in a visa interview: The way you are dressed gives your interviewer a first impression of how seriously you take the interview and/or the student visa process. But which US visa attire makes the right impression? Along with questions about the visa process, such as F-1 visa questions, F-1 visa requirements, and required visa documents, you may also be wondering: “What should I wear for a US visa interview?”

Making a good first impression by wearing the right clothes for your interview is important to show respect and seriousness of purpose. The outfit you choose reflects much about your mindset toward your future, your goals, and your commitment to achieving these goals. So, when considering the question “what should I wear for a US visa interview?” remember that how you present yourself says a lot about who you are. 

There are no written policies or rules about US visa attire. However, there are expectations and accepted norms that you should aim to follow.

Dress Presentable 

It is important to know that there are certain expectations around clothing and style during formal meetings and interviews. “Dressing presentable” usually involves aligning your attire and styling to meet these expectations, or making sure your clothing is appropriate for the formal nature of your interview.

This does not mean that you must completely hide your individuality — you can always add small personal touches to your outfit to stay unique and show your personality. However, keep in mind that this is one of the last steps toward achieving your visa, so keeping your dress code presentable is an easy way to create a good first impression. 

Here are a few tips on what to wear for a visa interview.  

  • Choose formal clothing — Professional attire is the way to go with almost any interview, and the same applies to F-1 student visa interviews. Certain formal clothing options such as dress shirts, ties, suits, pantsuits, and jackets are always appropriate. 

  • Aim for a comfortable style If you are uncomfortable in your chosen outfit, it will reflect in your body language and may even affect your confidence. When choosing what to wear for a visa interview, put together an outfit that looks professional, but also makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.

  • Avoid accessories Too much jewelry may distract your interviewer and can be inappropriate given the formal nature of the interview. Limit your choices to simple jewelry such as hoops, studs, or a watch.

  • Keep fragrances light — Certain colognes or perfumes can make others uncomfortable, and may even cause them nausea or headaches. Choose a perfume with a milder scent and apply it in moderation, or avoid fragrances entirely.

Depending on your country, appropriate clothing for men and women will differ, and some interviewers may have a limited understanding of cultural differences. Let us take a look at some appropriate dress codes for women and men.

Appropriate Dress Attire for Women

When thinking about “what should I wear for a US visa interview,” narrow down your choices and focus on what is important. There are a few essentials to keep in mind when considering the dress code for a US consulate interview. Here is a list of what to wear for a visa interview: 

Tops  

For your shirt selection, consider if you prefer wearing an outfit typical for American students or something more traditional to your home country. Dressing as though you are already studying in the US is not essential when attending the interview. The most important factor to consider is that your shirt is professional and presentable for the occasion. 

If you would rather take a more Americanized approach when considering “what should I wear to a US visa interview?”, a formal shirt with neutral tones is also a suitable choice. Remember that you are the focus of the interview and your clothes should reflect your confidence and professionalism. With this in mind, avoid shirts with large prints or informal designs. Similarly, try to avoid tops that are low-neck, tight-fitted, or sleeveless, as they may appear too casual for an interview.

Bright colors are also not recommended for interviews as they may distract the interviewer. Neutral tones such as beige, white, cream, grey, navy blue, or pastel colors like pink or light blue can help your outfit look more colorful without overdoing it.

Bottoms

When you decide on what to wear for a US embassy interview, you will also need to select a professional pant or skirt. If you are wondering ”what should I wear to a US visa interview?”, remember that your pants or skirt can convey just as much about your personality as your shirt does. While conveying your style, remember to coordinate your choices appropriately. 

Traditional straight-leg trousers are the easiest option when it comes to pants: They can suit almost any type of shirt or blouse and will be the perfect complement to any blazer or jacket you might wear. 

You may also wear wide-legged dress pants or cropped hem pants as they also go well with any type of top, while looking official and formal. Avoid jeans and leggings as these are often too informal for US visa attire. 

Dresses

A simple black dress with strong lines and structure, cap- or long-sleeved, and textured tights can convey your professionalism to the interviewer. Try to avoid bright colors or shiny material, as these can appear too informal or casual. Consider keeping the length of your dress below your knees and, when in doubt, choose a more modest neckline. 

Shoes

Make sure that the shoes you wear are comfortable yet formal. You do not need to force yourself into a pair of high heels. Instead, a simple pair of pumps or low block heels will also be suitable. Avoid wearing any kind of heel if you are not comfortable in them, as your discomfort may be evident when you walk into the interview room (or could lead to injury)! 

Keep the colors of your shoes neutral as well — colors like black, blue, grey, or nude match almost any outfit and always look professional.

Grooming and Hygiene 

Grooming and hygiene are key factors when it comes to looking your best for your F-1 student visa interview — and are just as important as the clothes you choose. 

Make sure your nails are clean and tidy before the interview. If you wear makeup, keep it simple and understated. Keep your hair neat, preferably in a ponytail or a low bun. With your hair out of your face, you’ll reduce distractions and keep the interviewer focused. It is also a sign of confidence! 

Appropriate Dress Attire for Men 

The dress code for US visa attire for men is usually business professional or business casual. This is your opportunity to sell yourself by showing your interviewer that you are serious about your future in the US. When considering what to wear for a US embassy interview, pick outfits that make you feel confident and comfortable.

Tops

Formal shirts in neutral tones suit men best in the setting of a visa interview. There are many styles of shirts to choose from, including button-down shirts, band-collar shirts, short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and more. If you prefer wearing ties with your shirts, it is better to wear a button-down shirt with a neutral-colored tie. If you find ties uncomfortable, a band-collared linen shirt is also suitable. 

Adding small details such as a pin, cufflinks, or pocket square can make you stand out. This small extra effort shows the interviewer that you are attentive and organized and that you have taken great care with how you presented yourself at the interview. 

Bottoms 

When selecting a pair of pants to wear for your F-1 student visa interview, it is very important to ensure that they match your top. Once again, neutral-colored pants are better suited for this particular occasion. 

Colors like black, beige, and grey go well with almost any color shirt. As for the style of pants, try to keep them simple as well — straight-legged pants work well with almost any shirt style. 

Accessorize your pants with a simple black or brown belt and you are good to go!

Shoes

Keep your shoes simple. While men’s shoes have varying options, it is best to stick to more traditional footwear with a simple black or brown dress shoe. Dress shoes are also appropriate in a formal setting and are a safe choice for any type of outfit.

Remember to polish your shoes the day before your interview. Prepping your shoes in advance saves time on the day of the interview and gives your outfit a finishing shine that can impress your interviewer.

Grooming and Hygiene

Grooming and hygiene are essential parts of completing your outfit for your F-1 student visa interview. Putting in that extra bit of effort to look good for the interview can show your attention to detail and your enthusiasm to make a good impression.

Here are two essential grooming tips for you to keep in mind:

  1. Trim your hair five days before the interview Keep your hairstyle simple and presentable by giving your hair a quick trim if you feel it is too long or needs reshaping. Before your interview, add some gel or mousse to keep it neat. 

  2. Keep facial hair tidy Shaving your beard and keeping it neat shows responsibility and maturity. Your interviewer will appreciate the effort you take to present yourself well and it will demonstrate that you value how you present yourself beyond your clothing choices. 

If you choose a fragrance to finish off your US visa attire, consider a mild scent that does not overwhelm or distract.

The Bottom Line: Be Presentable

When finalizing your outfit, make sure that you are dressing presentable. Reach out to your family and friends, especially people who also went through student visa interviews, and ask their opinion on your outfit. Your clothing choices should be appropriate and presentable in any formal setting, such as a job interview or a presentation.

The interview process itself can be challenging, but by dressing presentably, you can give yourself a boost in confidence while also showing the interviewer your professionalism and dedication to studying in the US. If you need support with preparing, remember you can always reach out to a Shorelight advisor. Your advisor can help you prepare by practicing your interview with you, reviewing possible interview questions, and providing additional visa assistance services

Once you pass your interview and receive your visa, it’s time to start planning your celebration outfit!

Learn more about how Shorelight can support you >