It’s not only you, millions of students every year dreams to study in United States and many of them gets into Top American Universities living their dream but many students even after being eligible and skilled enough can not make it into the United States for their study because of some silly mistakes they make while applying for Visa. In this article we will guide you step by step to get Visa & clear Immigration.
In general, prospective students will go through five stages when applying for a US student visa:
- Apply to and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school in the US (six to twelve months prior to US study);
- Pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee;
- Complete a US student visa application along with recent photo(s);
- Pay the visa application fee;
- Schedule and attend a visa interview.
Types of Student Visa
There are 3 types of Student Visa
1) F1 Student Visa
- Students applying for a program that requires more then18 hours of study in a week requires F1 visa. All UG and PG programs requires F1 visa
- Spouses or children accompanying F-1 visa recipients will travel on an F-2 visa. Please note that spouses are not able to work but may accompany and/or apply for their own visa to the U.S. to work or study.
2) J1 Exchange Visitor Visa
- This is for students visiting scholars or lecturers pursuing an exchange program, such as Fulbright Scholars or many students on short term study abroad programs from Indian Universities.
- J1 visa is usually sought by a working professional who goes to America on an exchange program, hence the name Exchange Visitor Visa. These may include a 10-month vocational training or some research fellowship, etc. Whichever be the case, the applicants would be notified for the same by the respective institutions
3) M-1 Vocational/Non-Academic Student Visa
- The M1 visa is a type of student visa which is reserved for vocational and technical schools. While the process for applying to the F1 visa and M-1 is similar, the difference is that on entering, the M1 visas are time-stamped and students cannot overstay their visit.
Latest COVID19 Travel Update from US Government
US Health department lifted travel ban on students who are fully vaccinated with a WHO verified vaccine. For more and most recent news please visit US health department latest update visit U.S. Embassy website for Indian Students or visit US Government Health Department for more clarification.
1) Apply to an SEVP approved Institution
Now some of you might be wondering what is SEVP & why it’s even important right? Let me explain you that. SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) Approved Institute means the college has been certified and authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take in and enroll F visa international students.
Another important reason is there are few Scam Colleges which are not accredited to any University and nor certified by Homeland Department to enroll international student and you will lose both your money and American dream.
As an international student, you should ensure you choose an institution and program accredited by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
Accreditation is very important as it ensures that your degree is legit and you are qualified to work in your home country or in other countries. Use the government’s Study in the States website to identify accredited institutions.
Unlike some countries, the US does not have a centralized university application system, so you will need to apply to each institution you are interested in separately. You’ll need to fulfill each institution’s admissions requirements, and usually will also be asked to provide proof of sufficient financial resources.
Once you have been accepted by an institution, the university will enroll you in the SEVIS system and you will be sent a SEVIS-generated document called Form I-20 if you are eligible for an F or M visa, or Form DS-2019 if you are eligible for a J visa.
2) Pay the SEVIS Fee
|Type of Visa|
|Type of fee (SEVIS)||F1||J1||M1|
MRV Application fee/ Visa Application fee
Don’t be lazy to wait until the last day, you must pay the SEVIS fee at least 3 days before you submit your US Visa. You can either pay the fee online or paper form. For more help visit US Immigration and Custom Enforcement ICE SEVP website.
You can obtain and print a payment confirmation from the website at any time after processing your payment. You’ll need this confirmation as proof of fee payment at your US student visa interview. You may also be required to show the confirmation to the customs officer at your chosen US Port of Entry, if ever you change your non-immigrant status, or if you’re applying for any other US immigration benefits.
3) Complete a US Student Visa Application
Once you have paid your SEVIS fee, fix your appointment with US embassy at your nearby location. Again don’t wait for the deadline or last moment as processing time for visa may vary and it may take weeks. It’s best to apply early as visa can be issued 120 days before you’re due to enter the US. Visit this official US Visa info website – Click Here
Personal details required to complete the DS-160 form include:
- Name and date of birth
- Address and phone number
- Passport details
- Details of travel plans, and travel companions
- Details of previous US travel
- Your point of contact in the US
- Family, work and education details
- Security, background and medical health information
- SEVIS ID and address of US school/program you intend to enroll in (as printed on I-20 or DS-2019 form)
Don’t be in a rush while filling the form, as if you make any error then you may have to reschedule your appointment and the whole process may get delayed. If you get confused while filling the application form, it’s best to find your answers here at travel.state.gov website.
Once the visa application form is completed, you’ll need to electronically sign your DS-160 by clicking the “Sign Application” button at the end. After your application is uploaded, you’ll be sent a confirmation page with a barcode, barcode number and your application ID number which you’ll need to print out and take to your visa interview appointment. You do not need to print the full application but some of us get panic when it comes to interview day then it’s better to you make a print out of whole application form.
4) Pay the Visa Application fee
During your research, don’t worry if you come across the term ‘visa issuance fee based on reciprocity’ – this does not apply for F1, F2, M1, M2, J1 and J2 visa applicants.
You’ll be asked for the MRV fee receipt when you get to your visa interview appointment. Some J visa applicants will not need to pay application processing fees if participating in a US Agency for International Development (USAID) program or a federally funded educational and cultural exchange program with a program serial number beginning G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-7.
5) Visit the nearby Embassy for your Interview
The final step to get your visa is to attend your interview at the US Embassy or consulate. Get prepared for answering all the question you get asked by officer. You should answer all the questions correctly without any hesitation or making up answers, answer what officer asked you, don’t answer out of the point.
Documents Required for Visa Interview
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US. If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application. You may also need to bring all your current and old passports.
- Signed SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 (including individual forms for spouse/children)
- Form DS-7002 (for J-1 Trainee and Intern visa applicants only)
- SEVIS fee receipt
- DS-160 application confirmation page with barcode and application ID number
- MRV fee payment confirmation receipt
- Printed copy of visa interview appointment letter
- 1-2 photographs in the format explained in the photograph requirements. Should be printed on photo quality paper.
You should also be prepared to provide the following documents:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
- Scores from your tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Financial evidence showing you or your sponsor (i.e. parents or a government sponsor) has sufficient funds to cover your tuition, travel and living expenses during your stay in the US.
You can also bring along a separate written list of all your previous employers and schools you have attended for reference.
Any derivative visa applicants will need to take:
- A copy of the marriage and/or birth certificate for proof of relationship
- A copy of the principal applicant’s visa (i.e. F-1, M-1, J-1), or official documentation from the USCIS confirming the principal applicant’s status.
- A copy of the personal data page from the principle applicant’s passports.
What’s Now ?
As its not sure that you will be issued Study Visa so do not make any travel plans until you get your Student Visa. Be aware that a valid visa does not guarantee entry into the US: it only allows you to travel to a US port-of-entry and request permission to enter the US. Permission to enter is given by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official.
Always carry your visa-related documents in your hand luggage, as you’ll need to be able to present the documents at your port of entry. Documents you should keep with you include:
- SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019
- Evidence of financial resources
- Evidence of student status (such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts)
- Name and contact information for your Designated School Official (DSO), including a 24-hour emergency contact number at your chosen institution.
- If you’re an exchange student: letter from your home university stating your intent to return to your home university.
You must have your Form I-20/DS-2019 every time you enter the US – if you take a vacation outside of the US you will need the SEVIS form to re-enter the country.