Many of us have dreamt of living the American dream and studying in the United States. However, if you are not an American national, you will be required to apply for a student visa to study in the United States.
The US student visa application is a long process and can take up to 3 to 5 months to complete. It is advised that you apply for your US student visa well in advance before the start of your course.
Applying for a US-student visa can also be a complicated procedure in some cases. Before you apply for a US student visa, you need to determine which type of student visa is the most suitable for you.
Types of Student Visas in the United States
- F1 Visa
The F1 visa is issued to international students for academic studies. It is issued to students attending a regular academic or an English language program. It is the most common of all the USA student visas.
F1 student visa holders are required to maintain their full-time student status and are allowed to work part-time to a maximum of 20-hours per week.
International students holding an F1 visa are required to complete their course before the expiration of their I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status).
- J1 Visa
A J1 Visa is issued to international students who require to obtain practical training that is unavailable in their home country for completion of their academic program.
This student visa allows part-time employment limited to 20-hours per week. However, international student needs to obtain permission from the exchange visitor program sponsor for employment.
- M1 Visa
An M1 visa is issued to international students attending a vocational or a non-academic school in the United States. M1 student visa holders cannot work during the course of their studies.
Also, students applying for an M1 visa need to provide proof of funds which can cover their cost of studies and living expenses during the course of their stay.
How to Apply for a US Student Visa
After determining which type of US student visa you need to apply, you can begin with your US Student Visa application. Irrespective of which category of student visa you apply for, you will need to undergo the following steps:
1. Apply to a SEVP-approved school and obtain an I-20
An international student needs to be enrolled in a US school before they can apply for a student visa. However, your school needs to be accredited by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of the Government of the United States.
Accreditation is critical to ensure that your diploma or degree is recognised by other colleges and universities, professional associations, government institutions and ministries and employers all over the world.
You will be required to apply to each individual institution or university as the United States does not have a centralised university application system like many other countries.
This means you will need to fulfil the admission requirements of each institution, which will include proving proof of funds.
Only institutions approved by SEVP can accept and enrol international students. Once you have been accepted by an institution, you will be enrolled in the SEVIS system and issued a Form I-20 or a Form DS-2019.
Students who are eligible for an F1 or M1 international student visa are issued a Form I-20, and international students eligible for a J1 student visa are issued a DS-2019
2. Payment of the SEVIS-fee
You need to pay the SEVIS-fee at least 3 days before submitting your US student visa application. You need to pay $ 200 if you are applying for an F1 or an M1 visa and $ 180 for a J1 visa.
While making the SEVIS-fee, you need to ensure that your all details filled need to be exactly as they appear on your I-20 or DS-2019 form.
This payment can be made using debit or credit card, Western Union Quick Pay, international money order or a check. Ensure you print your payment confirmation as it can be required during the later stages of your US student visa application.
3. Fill an Online Visa Application Form
Once you have made your SEVIS-fee payment, you are required to fill the online application DS-160 form. It is advised that you fill this online application form at least 3-4 months before the commencement of your course.
While filling the online DS-160 form, you need to ensure that you have all proper documentation for the details you are filling in your application. You will be required to provide the following personal details while filling our online application DS-160 form.
- Your Full Name
- Date of Birth
- Details of your Passport.
- Details of your previous visits to the United States, if any.
- Details about your travel plans and travel companions, if any.
- Your point of contact in the United States.
- Details about your family, including their names, occupations and other personal information.
- Your education details.
- Details about your previous work experience, if any.
- Your SEVIS ID
- Address of the school/program/college/university you intend to enrol as mentioned in your I-20 or DS-2019 form.
Kindly ensure that you fill all the details correctly without any mistakes.
Also, ensure you have valid documentary proof for all details you have filled and mentioned in your application form as any discrepancy can lead to rejection of your student visa application.
4. Application Fees Payment
Once you have completed and submitted your online application DS-160 form, you need to make an application fee of $ 160.
You can make this payment online, in person at an approved bank or by phone. Please note that this application fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.
It is advised to print and record this payment receipt as it might be required during the interview stage of your US student visa application.
5. Schedule an Interview at The Nearest US Embassy or Consulate.
After payment of your student visa application fees, you can proceed to schedule a student visa interview at the nearest US embassy or consulate to your location.
The wait time for your interview can vary from location to location. However, the wait time tends to be the longest during the months of January and August.
Ensure you schedule your student visa interview well in advance before the commencement of your course.
You will need to provide your passport details, the 10-digit bar code number mentioned on your DS-160 confirmation and your CGI-reference number indicated on your application fee payment receipt.
6. Preparing for your Interview
US student visa interviews are relatively simple and straightforward. Your interviewers only wish to confirm the legitimacy of your application and your intention to return to your home country.
You will be required to provide them with your personal details and details about the course you wish to enrol in the United States.
However, ensure that you have all valid documentation for details provided in your application. It is advised to carry the following documentation along with you to your US student visa interview:
- Your passport.
- Payment receipt for your SEVIS-fee payment and application fee payment.
- Your DS-160 confirmation page.
- Your I-20 form.
- Documentation for proof of funds to cover your tuition and education fees, travel and living expenses in the United States.
- Academic records which include copies of your transcripts, diploma and degree, TOEFL score.
- Documentation proving you are having ties to your home country and that you will return post completion of your course. These documents can include job contract, apartment contract, return ticket, etc.
7. Attending the Interview
The last step towards earning your US student visa is attending your interview. You should be able to answer questions asked during the interview. Most questions are designed to check whether:
- Your primary purpose of going to the United States is to study.
- You have the required skills to complete and pass your course.
- You can pay your expenses in the United States.
- You intend to return back to the home country post completion of your studies.
- You do not pose a security risk to the United States.
You should ensure that you carry valid documentation which will help to validate and support your answer. The chances of student visa rejection drastically fall when you can satisfy your interviewer with your answers and relevant documentary evidence.
Waiting for your Student Visa
Your student visa application is generally approved or denied during your visa interview. If your student visa is approved, you will get your passport along with your US student visa within 7 to 10 working days. However, most interviewers will not inform you about the approval or rejection of your application, and you will need to wait till you receive your passport.
You should commence with your travel plans only after receiving your US student visa as an interview is not a guarantee of issuance of your student visa. F-1 visa holders do not require to book a return ticket, and you can enter the United States 30-days before the start of your course as mentioned on your I-20 form.
Do not forget to carry your passport, your I-20 form and all the other documents you carried with you during your US student visa interview. You might need these documents at immigration as well.
Contact Kansas Overseas Careers
Kansas Overseas Careers is an ISO 9001-2008 immigration service company based in Hyderabad, with its operation centres spread all over India. We are a team of immigration experts, devoted to investing our knowledge, experience, and dynamism into creating new opportunities for professionals planning for an overseas career. We value professional approach, forward-thinking and take every step to aid our clients to achieve their immigration goals smoothly.
In case you are apprehensive about your US student visa application or require professional assistance, you can contact Kansas Overseas Career and visit any one of our offices nearest to your location. Click here to know more about our office locations https://www.kansaz.in/contact-us.
You can also call our toll free number at 1800-102-0109, and our representative shall be happy to assist you.