How to Prove Intent to Return Home After Studying in the U.S.

As part of your F-1 or M-1 visa application, you'll have to convince a consular officer that you won't try to stay in the U.S. permanently.

By , Attorney University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Updated 5/05/2024

The United States welcomes foreign students to its colleges, universities, and other schools. Their presence enriches U.S. cultural life and brings in much-needed revenue for academic institutions. The United States also, however, makes a point of ensuring that the students plan to return to their home countries (or to some other country) when their studies are over. That is why part of any application for an F-1 or M-1 student visa will involve proving your residence in and ties to your home country to a U.S. government official; in other words, your must present a slate of reasons why you will be motivated to return home, rather than put down roots in the United States, after your graduation. Here, we will give you tips on doing that successfully.

Gathering Convincing Documents Showing Reasons to Leave the U.S. on Schedule

In preparing this part of your student visa application, think about finding convincing documents that will answer the question, "Why would you want or need to return home after your trip?"

This question and requirement might sound patronizing or insulting to you, reflecting an underlying assumption that everyone would want to live in the United States forever. Unfortunately, the U.S. government tends to believe that is the case, thinking everyone is angling for a way to stay in this country for as long as they possibly can.

Factual details concerning your home, family, and employment situation will probably be the best sources of proof that you will return home when your studies are completed. The most likely visa candidate is someone whose spouse and children will stay behind in a home that they own in their country (though these are not required, and realistically only a small percentage of applicants can show this).

Possible documents to gather for your visa application might include the ones listed below.

Possible documents to show the U.S. consular officer:

  • A copy of your home title or rental agreement, either of which shows that you have a stable place to live.
  • A sworn affidavit from your parents listing all the family members who live in your home country, and including details to show that they are all firmly settled there. Even better, include a statement of why you, too, are likely to return (especially if there is a family business or property).
  • Evidence that you are leaving a spouse and children behind in the home country, such as copies of marriage and birth certificates. Again, leaving your family is certainly not a requirement of the visa; in fact, you can probably bring them along on derivative visas; but if you do plan to leave them, be sure to make the most of this information.
  • Documentation of an existing business you own or manage or employment that you will return to, such as a business license or a letter from your employer (see sample below) and copies of recent pay stubs.
  • Copies of bank statements showing that you maintain accounts in your home country. Keeping an open bank account at home can prove a financial tie to your home country, especially if you are young and don't have a job or a history of employment.
  • Documentation of your career potential in your home country, including statistics from a reputable source, such as your government, showing that people with your skills are in high demand; or a letter from a potential employer expressing interest in considering you for a position upon your return.
  • Documentation of any monetary bonds that you paid to government scholarship funders in order to guarantee your return (copies of your receipts and correspondence will be best), and
  • A prepaid, round-trip plane ticket to and from the United States. Some consulates routinely ask for this, despite the fact that the official regulations do not require it.

However, do not feel limited by the above list. You might have a unusual reason for wanting to return home at the end of your studies that no one but you could think of. For example, perhaps you are an expert at a form of dance that only people in your country are interested in watching, you are the sole heir to a family business, .

Sample Overseas Employer Letter for Student Visa Applicant

Here's how your employer might write a letter on your behalf:

Tivoli Productions, Inc.
Tivoli Alle 100
2020 Copenhagen

June 11, 20xx

To Whom It May Concern:

We have authorized our employee, Dag Moller, three year's leave in order to pursue a master's degree in business administration in the United States. Moller is a marketing assistant at our office and a valued employee, whom we are convinced will become a high-level marketing expert with further training. We have hired a temporary substitute in his absence. However, we eagerly await Mr. Moller's return in July of 20xx.

Very truly yours,

Karl Follerup

Make Sure to Be Consistent in Your Interview About Your Intent to Return Home

It would be a shame if, after all your hard work collecting documents proving your intent to leave after studying in the United States, you were to undermine that message with what you tell the visa officer at your interview. Alluding to the possibility of staying in the United States if you get a job offer (unless it's a job that will support your post-graduation practical training) will practically guarantee a denial of your visa. Consider in advance what you can honestly tell the visa officer about your plans.

Talk to an Immigration attorney.
We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you