Any student who wants to reside in US must go through the US student visa process to legally live there. It can either be a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay or immigrant visa for permanent stay. There are two types of visa : F-1 and M-1 and it depends on your course that what kind of visa would you apply for. Start your preparation for obtaining US student visa at least three to five months before your session begins. There is a list of steps which you need to follow for acquiring US student visa and these steps differ according to your local US embassy and the consulate. So, you need to be very patient during this entire visa process. For recreational studies, you can apply for type B visa. This visa is usually meant for short duration stay at US.
Choose right study program!
You need to choose the programme and the university that is certified by the US Government and Students Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP). Other universities and professional organizations must acknowledge that programme as well. There is no centralized university application system available in the United States. So, you will have to apply to each and every university separately. You’ll be asked to provide them with authentic information about your educational status and also to show them evidence of your financial stability.
i20 form for US Student visa
After your acceptance, you will be given an form I-20. Your eligibility will be tested for M or F visa. You could also be given J visa depending upon your eligibility status. And for that matter, you are provided with DS-2019 form. F and M visa classifications are controlled by the SEVP and Department of States has a control over J classification. Pay all the dues of SEVP before the submission of your application form. For paying it, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will guide you in filling the form. 200 dollars fee is fixed for F/M visa holders and 180 dollars for J visa holders. J visa holders compensate this fee difference by paying an extra 35 dollars during summer Camp. There are many ways through which you can submit your money namely debit or a credit card, western union etc. Kindly check your payment status on the website. If your sponsor didn’t pay your fee and you paid your fee on your own then you need to have a payment receipt along with you. You could be asked to show it as a evidence during your US Visa Interview. Or you might be asked by the custom office at the time of your arrival in United States.
Appointment with your local US Embassy or Consulate
After the submission of your fee, make an appointment at the US embassy of your state. Visa process can take many days. So, it’s better to apply as early as possible. It doesn’t matter whatever is your due date of classes, you could be granted a visa even 120 days before your session begins. Every country possess their own website network that enables you to carry out the visa process. But even if you don’t find any, your country must have a US Embassy or a consulate. Contact your local US embassy or consulate for any queries.
US Student visa Application form
The next step is to fill the online application form. You can find online visa form link here. You need to give your authentic information and qualifications in that form. Apply from any place of your choice. You’ll fill an ID at the top of the form. Remember this ID. You are going to use it to log in to the website. The usual information that is asked for in the form is :-
- Your basic details like name and date of birth.
- Your location like address and contact number
- Purpose of travelling and your plans
- Your Passport and ID details
- Details of your previous US travel if you ever did
- Medical and health background
- Information related to your family and studies
- SEVIS ID and the location of the university you are going to.
Students are also asked to upload their recent photographs at the top of the form. And if it doesn’t accept it then you would have to take new photographs. The last step is electronically signing of the form. After doing that, you’ll receive a confirmation barcode with your application ID. You just need to take the print out of it along with you to the Embassy for the interview. No need to take a print out of the whole form.
The Visa Application Fee or Machine Readable Visa Fee is need to be paid before the interview. You can either pay it by yourself to a nearby bank or by using a mobile phone( you’ll be given a confirmation number) or do it online( make sure to take a printout of the receipt) Some of J visa applicants might not pay the fee because they are the employees of federally funded educational programmes or US Agency for International Development (USAID).
US Student visa Interview
Now arrange a US Visa Interview either by doing it online or calling a nearby US embassy and make a suitable visa appointment. You can visit any embassy outside of your permanent residence but prefer contacting your place. Because it brings about less chances of rejection. Be on time and don’t get late on your visa interview date. Being late might cause you to reschedule your appointment. Basically, consular has to check whether you are eligible for the US visa or not and what kind of visa you should be given. So, be prepared for all type of personal questions that you might be asked by him/her related to your family, your English speaking skills, educational qualifications etc.
Documents required for the US Student Visa Interview
please do not forget to gather these document and take them with you when you go for student visa interview. You will also get exact details and list of documents when you book your visa appointment. Read that carefully and doc’t miss any of the listed document on the day of visa interview.
- Passport having a validity of at least 6 months prior to your stay at the US
- Your birth or marriage certificate
- Your authentic qualification certificates from your previous institution
- Certificates of passing the GMAT, GRE, TOEFL exams etc.
- SEVP form and fee slip
- DS-160 form confirmation barcode, application ID and MRV fee
- Financial evidence that you can support your studies
- Photographs (Please check US visa photo requirements carefully)
Your consular will tell you the details of all your visa process. He will let you know about how much time will it take. M and F type visa is even granted 120 days before but you can only visit US before 30 days of your entry. However, J type visa holders can go anytime if they have authentic visa.
Don’t get over excited until you receive your visa in your hands. Additionally, don’t book flights too. After you receive your visa, complete all the booking procedure. Always carry all the above mentioned documents along with you whenever you enter the US. Lastly, you will have to fill a Custom Declaration form upon your arrival at the U.S airport. After the required security check up, you’re free to go.