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If you want to study in the US and are not a US citizen, you will need to obtain a student visa. Applying for a US student visa can be a long process, so make sure you start preparing well in advance – at least three to five months before your course is due to start. There are usually several steps to apply for a US student visa. These steps vary at each US embassy or consulate so it’s important to consult the instructions on the website of the embassy or consulate where you intend to apply.

TYPES OF US STUDENT VISA

The USA issues different types of visas to students:

F-1 Visa

F-1visa is a full-time student visa for academic studies. An F1 visa is issued to students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program. Additionally, students can work on optional practical training (OPT) for up to one year after completion of their academic program.

M-1 Visa

An M1 visa is issued to a student who is going to attend a non-academic or vocational school. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies.

J1 Visa

A J1 visa is issued to students who need to obtain practical training that is not available in their home country to complete their academic program. An Exchange Visitor would receive a J-1 visa. Exchange Visitors come to the USA for consultation, training, research or teaching, or for an approved Au Pair or temporary work position.

Here are some guidelines to help make your student visa application process smooth and successful.

PROCEDURE FOR VISA APPLICATION

Step 1: Your school or university will send you a form confirming that you have been accepted at an institution authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) to enroll non-immigrant students (the I-20 for an F-1 visa or the DS-2019 for a J-1 visa.) You will read and sign this form.

Step 2: You will need to make an appointment for a visa interview and to pay some required fees. Under a revision in the regulations, Student Visas can be issued up to 120 days before the date on your form I-20. Exchange Visitor Visas can be issued anytime before the date on the DS-2019. You should apply as early as possible for your visa.

Step 3: Complete the non-immigrant visa application form, DS-160 online. This form replaces all of the other forms.

Complete the DS-160 form on line completely. Again, remember to use the exact same order and spelling of your names as they are found in your passport. Then you will print them out and bring them to the Embassy when you go for your your visa interview.

Step 4: Schedule and prepare for your visa interview. It is recomened that you apply for your visa well in advance of the date your studies begin. You should apply three months before you plan to travel to the USA. This will give you extra time in case of delaying at the embassy.

Be prepared to give your information quickly and completely. If you are unable to answer the questions in English, and the visa officer does not speak your language, you can ask for an interpreter. Speaking English is not a requirement for a student visa but if you can speak English fluently, it will be an advantage.

Step 5: Attend your Visa Interview

Your student visa interview will determine whether you are qualified to receive an student visa for the USA. Assuming that you have prepared the appropriate documents and meet all of the F-1 visa requirements, your visa will be approved at the discretion of the consular officer.

Step 6: Wait for Visa Decision

US STUDENT VISA REQUIREMENTS

Mendatory documents

  • 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.

Evidence of financial resources:

As the application process for the countries vary so does the student visa requirements and accordingly the list of documents that are required as proof of funds. Every country’s Student Visa/ University requirements list a separate set of acceptable documents. Here is a list of what all they can be, along with samples wherever necessary. Also, often more than one proof (unless a specific account/ deposit is requested) can be combined with another.

  • Bank Account Statements
  • Loan Approval/ Disbursement Letter
  • Scholarship Letters
  • Affidavit of Support/ Sponsorship

Education documents

  • Original degree certificates along with mark sheets
  • Original Bachelor degree transcripts of high school diplopma along with mark sheets
  • Relevant test scores such as TOEFL and SAT, GRE, GMAT or LSAT.

COST OF US STUDENT VISA

There are two fees associated with for student visa for the USA:

Visa F1:

  • SEVIS fee which is at present at $200
  • Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee) which is at present $160

Visa J1:

  • SEVIS fee which is at present at $180
  • Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee) which is at present $160

Visa M1:

  • SEVIS fee which is at present at $200
  • Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee) which is at present $160