How to Get a US Student Visa

If you wish to pursue a degree at a university in the US but aren’t an US citizen, then you’ll need to apply for the student visa. The process of applying for an US Visa for students could be a lengthy process, so be sure you begin preparing prior to the time you need it by at least three or five months prior to the date your program is scheduled to begin. There are typically various steps involved in applying for the US students visa. The steps differ for every US consulate or embassy so it’s essential to check the guidelines on the site of the consulate or embassy in the country you plan to apply.

In general, students must go through five phases in submitting an application for an US Student visa

  1. Accept and apply to by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school in the US (six to 12 months before US studies);
  2. Make payment of for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) cost;
  3. Complete the US applicant for a student visa with a current photo(s);
  4. Pay the fee for visa applications;
  5. Attend an interview for visas.

Find out more in-depth advice on each of the five steps.

1. Make an application to an institution that is SEVP-approved

If you are an international student, you must ensure that you select an institution or program that has been accredited through the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Accreditation is crucial since it assures that your education is accepted by other institutions as well as employers, professional associations as well as government departments around the world. Only SEVP-approved institutions are able to enroll students into SEVIS. Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and give you the documentation required to obtain the US Student Visa. Visit the US SEVIS website of the government’s Study in the States website to find recognized institutions.

Contrary to some nations like unlike other countries, the US doesn’t have a central application process for universities therefore, you’ll need to apply for each school that you’re interested in individually. It is necessary to satisfy the admissions requirements of each institution and will typically be required to show the evidence of having enough financial resources.

If you are approved by the institution you are at, it will be enrolled in the SEVIS system. You will receive the SEVIS-generated document known as Form I-20, if you’re qualified to apply for the F and M visa or Form DS-2019 if are qualified to apply for an J visa.

The SEVP oversees international students under classes Visa F and M categories and the Department of State (DoS) oversees Exchange Visitor Programs and international students in the J visa categories. Both SEVP as well as DoS make use of SEVIS to monitor and track institutions, exchange visitor programs, as well as international students.

2. You must pay the SEVIS fee

The SEVIS cost within three days prior to making an application for the US visa. To pay the fee , you’ll have to submit either an online form or a paper. Both are accessible through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SEVP website. Make sure you enter the exact information in the exact manner that it appears on your DS-2019 or I-20 form.

As of the date at the time of writing the fee for I-901 is $200 for holders of F/M visas as well as $180 for J visa holders. J visa holders who work as camp counselors as au pairs or the summer months can pay for $35 instead. The website provides instructions for various payment methods like credit or debit card or check, international money orders and Western Union Quick Pay. After you have paid the fee, you are able to return on the website to view the status of your payment if you wish. A third person (such for example, your employer) may also be able to make the payment for you. When the payment is made on behalf of you then you will get a receipt from the third party.

You can download and print an acknowledgement of payment from the website at any point after you’ve processed your payment. You’ll require this confirmation to prove that you paid the fee at the time of your US Student Visa interview. It is also possible to present the confirmation to the customs official at the chosen US Port of Entry, should you decide to change your status as a non-immigrant or when you apply for other US benefits for immigration.

3. Fill out the US students visa application

After you’ve received your SEVIS form and have paid fees for the SEVIS fee, you’ll be able to set up an appointment with an US consulate or the embassy in your nation to submit the US students visa. It’s recommended to submit your application at the earliest possible time regardless of the date your program is scheduled to begin, because the processing time for visas can differ. Visas is valid for up to 120 days prior to the date you’re scheduled to travel to the US.

Each country has its own website dedicated to all things related to making an US students visa request. The application is accessible from this page. If you are unable to locate your country listed it is possible that you will be able to locate the US consulate or embassy of your country by visiting the US Embassy’s web site.

Online visa application: DS-160

In all instances, you’ll have to fill out all of the on-line request for visa the DS-160. It is necessary to choose the place where you’d like to apply and be sure that you have all of the documents and other information required to complete the application. After you’ve selected and answered an security question you’ll be directed to the page of the application. The top will see the application ID. You’ll require this ID to locate your application form in the event that you have to quit the application, and then return in the future.

Personal details needed to fill out the DS-160 form are:

  • Name and birth date
  • Contact number and address
  • Passport details
  • Information about travel plans and travel companions
  • Information about prior US travel
  • Your contact point in the US
  • Work, family, and education specifics
  • Background, security, and medical information about health
  • SEVIS ID and the address of US school or program you are planning to join (as as printed on the I-20 form or the DS-2019 form)

You’ll also have to upload a recent photograph of yourself using the format specified in the photography specifications. If your upload fails, you’ll have to bring the photo in a print that will meet the required requirements for your interview.

Make sure you complete all questions correctly and in full, as you may need to alter the visa interview time If you do make any mistakes. If you’re confused while filling out the application You can find the answers to your concerns via the travel.state.gov website.

After the visa application form has been completed, you’ll need electronically fill out your DS-160 by pressing on the “Sign Application” button at the bottom. Once your application has been submitted and you’re sent confirmation pages with an barcode, barcode code number and the ID number of your application that you’ll need to print and bring to the visa interview. There is no need to print the entire application.

4. Pay the fee for a visa application

The fee for a visa application is also known as”the Machine Readable Visa Fee or the ‘MRV fee’. Check the payment guidelines for fee payments available on the consulate or embassy website since the payment methods could differ. In general, there are three options to pay the non-refundableand fee for a visa that is not transferrable:

  • In person at an authorized bank
  • Through telephone (you’ll be provided with a confirmation number)
  • Online (you’ll be required for printing your receipt)

While doing you research don’t be concerned when you find the phrase ‘visa issuance fee that is based on reciprocity’. it is not applicable to F1 or F2 visas. J1 and M2 visa applicants.

The MRV fee receipt once you arrive at the visa interview. Certain J visa applicants do not have to pay processing fees when they participate in an US Agency for International Development (USAID) program or a federally funded education as well as cultural exchange. the program’s serial number starting with G-1, G-2, or G-7.

5. Make a plan to attend an US Student Visa Interview

The final step to get the US students visa, is to schedule and an interview for a visa. It is possible to do this on the internet or via phoneby calling the closest US consulate or embassy. In both cases you must finish the MRV fee first, since you might require the MRV fees number.

The process for applying for visas will not be complete until you have the interview of a consular official. Be assured that you will not have to schedule an interview at another US consulate or embassy from that you applied to the visa. The barcode on the DS-160 could be utilized to access the information you have provided at any US consulate or embassy. Be aware that it could be challenging to obtain visas if you are applying outside of your country of permanent residence. The wait times for visa interview times depend on the location and season, as well as the visa type.

Documents required for the Visa interview

Visit on the official website for the consulate or embassy which you are applying to confirm that you’ve got all the documents required to be present for the interview. The documents you need could include:

  • Passport valid for at minimum six months beyond the duration of residence within the US. When more than one individual is listed on your passport, every one who needs a visa should apply for a visa on their own. You might also have to bring your passports, old and new.
  • Signature SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 (including separate forms for children and spouses)
  • The form DS-702 (for J-1 Trainees as well as Intern visa candidates only)
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Application confirmation page DS-160 with barcode and the application ID number
  • Receipt for confirmation of fee payment from MRV
  • A copy of the visa interview invitation letter
  • One or two photographs that conform to the format described in the photo requirements. The photos should be printed on high-quality photo paper.

It is also recommended to submit these documents

  • Diplomas and transcripts from the earlier institutions where students attended
  • Scores of test that are standardized needed by the institution of education like the TOEFL test, LSAT, GRE, GMAT and so on.
  • Financial proof that you or your patron (i.e. parents or government sponsored sponsor) has enough funds to cover your tuition costs for living and travel while here in the US.

You may also want to bring separate lists of your previous employers and the schools you’ve attended for information.

Any applicants with derivative visas must take:

  • A duplicate of the marriage certificate and/or birth certificate to prove the relationship
  • A duplicate of the applicant’s passport (i.e. F-1 J-1, M-1) or official documents from the USCIS verifying the status of the principal applicant.
  • A copy of the personal details page of the principal passport of the applicant.

Interviewing for a visa

It is essential to arrive punctual to attend your visa interview. late applicants could be asked to schedule their interview to another date. In the majority of cases, only those who have a scheduled appointment can be allowed inside the US consulate or embassy. There are exceptions for parents of children younger than 18, translators, as well as assistants for disabled people You’ll have to call the consulate or embassy of your choice to inform them of details of your translator, parent or other assistant you’ll be bringing with you.

The objective for the interview process is to allow consular officers to determine if you’re competent to obtain an US student visa, and in the event that you are, what visa category is suitable for you. Prepare yourself to answer questions concerning your connection to your country of origin as well as your English proficiency and educational background, the degree program in the US that you have been admitted, and evidence of your financial sources. It is also possible to be asked to describe the plans you have for when you finish your studies.

Digital fingerprint scans that are ink-free are taken in the application. It usually happens during the time of your visa interview.

After the interview, your consular representative will inform you if your application needs additional administrative processing. This may mean a longer time to get your visa. The waiting times can vary based on the country. It is also possible to be advised of the method you can expect when and where your passport with visa is returned (usually the delivery is by courier). In certain countries, the courier company will email to you an email from the courier company with an tracking number that you can track the arrival to you passport.

F-1 and M-1 visas may be issued for up to 120 days before the date of your start date for study However, you won’t be permitted to travel to the US before 30 days prior to the start date. J-1 visas may be issued anytime. If you plan to travel to the US within the 30 days are up, you must be eligible for and get the visitor visa. The 30 day limit is not applicable to students who are returning to their studies. They can be admitted to the US at any time as long as they possess an approved visa.

Using your visa

Since there is no guarantee you’ll be granted an entry visa, don’t plan your final travel plans or purchase tickets until you have the visa. Make sure you are aware that the validity of a visa does not ensure admission into US It only permits travelers to go to an US entry point and ask permission to be admitted to the US. The permission to enter is granted by an official from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official.

Always keep your visa-related documentation in your luggage since you’ll be required to capable of presenting the documents at the port of entry. Documents to keep in your bag include:

  • Passport
  • SEVIS Form I-20 or DS 2019
  • Financial resources evidence
  • The evidence of status as a student (such as recent transcripts and tuition receipts)
  • Contact information and name of the contact information for your Designated School Official (DSO) as well as the number for emergency assistance 24 hours a day at the institution you have chosen.
  • In the case of an exchange student, A letter from the university you attended at home that states your desire to return to your university of choice.

Last Updated : March 17, 2022 by Editorial Team

Published : March 17, 2022

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