The United States Of America is a major destination for international students. Over 300 thousand F1 students visa was issued in 2017, and a staggering 1,18,4735 F and M visas issued the following year. Universities in the USA have a smooth and friendly procedure for admissions of students all over the world, and some of the best schools in the world located in the United States.
As an international student, you must ensure your preferred choice of institution is accredited by the US government’s students and exchange visitors program (SEVP). This is very crucial as it ensures your degree is recognized by employers, government agencies, professional associations and other universities.
Interestingly, the US does not have a centralized university application procedure, you are to apply to each institution that interests you separately. However, your acceptance depends on your eligibility and most importantly proof of financial independence.
Apply To A Government Approved Institution
Applying to a college or university is the first step of getting a student visa, after your application for admission is approved, you will be sent a 1-20 form also known as the F-1 visa.
Ensure you read and pay close attention to every detail, it is important that your name and other important details are accurately filled. Additionally, there is an additional security clearance for international students in the United States and sadly this process can take up to several weeks of processing, hence, the need to be accurate with the information you provide.
Pay The Sevis Fees
You are required to pay the SEVIS fees three days prior to submitting an application for a study visa. You can file either an online or offline paper form accessible through the US immigration and customs enforcement (ICE) SEVP official website. Ensure you enter the same details as they appear on your 1-20 form.
The website explains the procedure for different types of payment including debit or credit card, check, international money order and Western Union Quick Pay.
A third party (such as your sponsor) can also pay the fee for you. If the fee is paid on your behalf, you should receive a receipt from that third party.
Make sure you obtain a payment confirmation from the website after processing the payment. During your US student visa interview, you will need the payment confirmation as proof of payment.
Complete The US Student Visa Application
You can arrange an appointment with a US consulate or embassy in your country for a US student visa application once you have paid the SEVIS fee. Due to backlogs, it is advisable to apply as early as possible, your visa could be issued upto 120 days before you enter the US.
You are required to select the location you wish to apply and ensure all relevant documents you need to fill the application are intact.
The following details are required to complete the DS-160 form
- Name and date of birth
- Address and phone number
- Passport details
- Details of travel plans, and travel companions
- Details of previous US travel
- Recent passport photos
- 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)
Once you have finished filling the form, you will need to electronically sign the DS-160 form by clicking the Sign button at the end. You will be sent a confirmation page and a barcode with your application number which you need during your visa interview.
Schedule A US Student Visa Interview
This is the final step in getting a US student visa. The visa application process cannot be approved until you appear for an interview with a consular officer.
Note: The wait time for visa interview appointments vary by region, visa category and season. However, be aware that if you apply outside your place of permanent residence, it may be difficult to qualify for a visa.
Required Documents For The Visa Interview
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US.
- DS-160 application confirmation page with barcode and application ID number
- Form DS-7002
- SEVIS fee receipt
- MRV fee payment confirmation receipt
- Signed SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 (including individual forms for spouse/children)
- Printed copy of visa interview appointment letter
- 2 photographs
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
- Scores from standardized language tests.
- 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.