To study in the US, as an international student, you need to obtain a student visa, called F1 or M1 visa.
Visa application process may take 2 to 3 months or more. So start your visa application process as soon as you finish off with your university applications. You will need a number of documents in place and pay for visa fee.
Please remember that there may be slight variations at each US embassy or consulate. Hence, do check with the website of embassy or consulate where you intend to apply for your visa.
To help you get started, we’ve listed below the key steps you need to follow for your student visa to the US.
1. Get an Admit from Your Target US School
You need to apply to your school, as every document you need to prepare for Visa application depends on the school you get admission into.
While shortlisting and applying to your target US schools, please ensure that schools and their programs are accredited by the US Government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). As only accredited schools can issue you documents necessary for apply for US student visa. You may want to check with the US Government Agency’s website to verify that the your target schools are indeed accredited.
After you have been accepted by a US school, it will enroll you in the SEVIS system and send you a SEVIS-generated document called I-20 Form that would make you eligible for a F or M visa.
In some cases of exchange visitor program, you mat get DS-209 Form that would make you eligible for a J visa.The steps below apply specifically for F visa.
2. Get Your Education loan
You would be required to show your financial ability to pay for tuition fee and living expenses. Hence, apply for and get approval of your education loan, in case you are planning for the same.
In India you can get education loan from various institutions including HDFC bank, Incred, and nationalized banks.
3.Get Your Finance Reports Prepared
You need to get a certified valuation report from a qualified CA for all your assets. That would simplify the financial documents that you would submit to the visa interview officer.
In India, you can get this report prepared for around Rs 5,000 from any qualified CA in your city.
4. Complete DS 160
You need to complete online visa application form DS 160 available at this url. You will need following information and documents to complete 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
- 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)
You will need to select the location from which you wish to apply. After selecting and answering a security question, you’ll be taken to the pages of the form. At the top you’ll find your application ID. You’ll need this ID to retrieve your form if you need to exit the application and return to it later.
You’ll also need to upload a suitable recent photo of yourself in the format explained in the photograph requirements.
Take care to answer all the questions accurately and fully as you may have to reschedule your visa interview appointment or your visa application may get rejected if you make any errors.
If you get confused when filling in the application form you may find answers to your questions on the US Government website. You can also ask questions in comments below on this page.
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. Please take print-out of this page and take that print-out to your visa interview appointment. You do not need to print the full application.
5. Pay Visa Fee
As soon as the DS 160 is completed, you need to pay the Visa fee. Here is the link for payment. We recommend that you pay by cash at CITI Bank or AXIS Bank.
If you are not from India, please make sure to review the fee payment instructions available on your embassy or consulate website as payment methods may vary.
6.Schedule Your Visa Interview
The final step in getting a US student visa is to arrange and attend a visa interview.
You should schedule your appointment to the consulate at least 120 days prior to the joining date at your university. For interview appointment booking please click here.
7.Pay SEVIS Fee
You need to pay $200 as Sevis Fee, maximum 72 hours prior to the Visa Interview. The payment is done here.
8. Get Ready with Following Documents
For visa interview, you need carry following documents. To be on a safer side, please check the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to ensure that you are not missing any documents needed for your interview.
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US. You may also need to bring all your current and old passports.
- Signed SEVIS Form I-20
- SEVIS fee receipt
- DS-160 application confirmation page with barcode and application ID number
- Visa fee payment confirmation receipt
- Printed copy of visa interview appointment letter
- 1-2 photographs in the format explained in the photograph requirements.
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions that you attended
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Financial evidence showing you or your sponsor has sufficient funds to cover your tuition, travel and living expenses during your stay in the US. These financial documents may include Bank Loan letter, Bank Statement of 1 year transaction, DEMAT Account statement, Fixed Deposit statement, Provident Fund statement, Passbook, Pay slips, Parents’ income tax papers etc.
- You should also bring along a separate written list of all your previous employers along with offer and reliving letters.
- CA and Valuation Reports
9. Mock Visa Interview
You may want to practice a few mock visa interviews.You may take help from your friends who have attend visa interviews.
You can also leave a message in comment section below to schedule your mock view interview with our visa expert or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. Visa Interview Tips
Like in any interview, there are a few things you must do and then there are some that you must not do. Most of them are related to one another. We have tabulated the same for your convenience:
Visa Interview Dos
Visa Interview Don’ts
|Smile: There is no reason to look morose or serious. Going to USA for your Studies was your dream and you are closer to it. So please do remember to smile.
Posture: The right posture is a positive sign of confidence. Take a deep breath and stand up straight. Good posture communicates confidence and boldness.
Dress for Success: Dressing well supports your image. It reflects that you have a positive outlook. Look professional. It indicates that you are a person that takes the interview seriously. Avoid makeup. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Avoid strong smelling perfume. Wear your spectacles if it is in your photographs.
|Be Nervous: Your primary intent to travel to USA is to pursue your higher education and there is no reason to be nervous about it. Thousands of students from all around the world do that. While a little nervousness is natural, sweating or hyperventilating is not a good sign. If you tend to get too fidgety, try some breathing exercises before you start your Interview to calm your nerves|
|Speak in English: Being able to communicate in English is one of the primary requirements for your education in USA. You have to be able to speak in English.
Communicate Clearly: Avoid using filler words such as ‘Like’, ‘Um’, or ‘I guess’ in sentences. Pay close attention to the questions asked by the consular and answer slowly and appropriately. For confidence, you should practice in front of a mirror before the interview.
|Speak English with a Forced Accent: The Visa Officer can understand Indian Accents so do not try to put on an American Accent. Be clear, crisp and stay clear of forced accents|
|Look at the Interviewer: Not being able to make eye contact is considered a sign of dishonesty. Practice at home and do look at the interviewer when answering the questions||Stare: Looking in the eye and constantly staring without blinking are two different things. Continuous staring can make the person uncomfortable – remember to blink|
|Carry your Documents: Always make sure the file you carry is complete with all the necessary documents and is properly catalogued. So, if you are asked to present a document, you do not waste time searching for it||Offer your document unless asked: The Visa Officer, in all probability, will not ask for any documents. Please do not offer to show it to them (until and unless they specifically ask to see something)|