Studying in the USA is a dream for millions of international students. To fulfil this dream, you first need a US Student Visa.
The Student Visa process for the USA is a long process that requires thorough preparation and calculated moves. For beginners, this can be taxing.
So, we have brought some basics on the types of student visas in the USA and how you can apply for a student visa in the USA.
Roughly, these are the stages that international students need to pass through as a part of the Student Visa Process in the USA.
- Apply to a SEVP-approved University or College in the US.
- Issue Form I-20
- Complete a US Student VISA Application and Visa application fee
- Schedule a US student visa interview and attend it
Student VISA process for the USA: Types of Student Visa
The categories of Student Visas are:
F1 Visa: An F1 Visa is a student visa allotted to the student who has been admitted to a university/ college or high school. Private elementary schools or any language exchange programs.
M1 Visa: M1 Visa is a student visa allotted to students who have secured admission to short-term non-academic courses.
J1 Visa: J1 Visa is the student visa/ exchange visitor Visa allotted to those approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the US.
F1 Visa is the most common kind of student visa. Keep in mind that we are addressing F1 Visa whenever the term student visa is mentioned from now onwards in this article.
How to apply for Student Visa in the USA?
1. Apply to a SEVP-approved University or College in the US
After ensuring that the university or college you are applying for is accredited by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), apply to the university.
Only SEVP-approved institutions can enrol students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
So, The first step in applying for a student visa in the USA is to apply to a SEVP-approved university or college and secure admission.
2. Issue Form I-20
SEVP-approved institutions will also provide you with other documents to proceed with the Student Visa application.
However, first, you should be accepted by the university; only then will you be registered in SEVIS and provided with Form I-20. I-20 is a crucial document for a Student Visa application.
In this stage, you also need to pay the SEVIS Fees. You can access this through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SEVP website. The full payment required for the I-901 SEVIS fee for F Visa applicants is USD 350. Keep in mind to put the authentic details analogous to the I-20 Form.
You will obtain the payment confirmation. You need to print it out since you will need the proof of SEVIS Fee payment at the US Student Visa Interview.
3. Complete a US Student VISA Application and Visa application fee
You can complete the US Student Visa Application online through a US Consulate or Embassy website. You can access this here.
You need to complete the online application form, i.e. DS-160. You will need to put some personal details in this form.
If confused, you can partially fill out the form, exit the application and use the application ID to return to the application later and complete it. The application ID is generally on the top of the form.
Other than the personal information, you will also need photographs in a Suitable format as listed below:
- In colour
- Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image's total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
- Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
- Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
- Taken in full-face view, directly facing the camera
- With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
- Taken in clothing that you usually wear daily
Click here for detailed information on the photograph requirement format.
To complete the Visa application form, you must sign the DS-160 electronically and upload your application. Upon this, you will receive a confirmation page with a barcode, barcode number and your application ID.
You need to print this confirmation page since it is another critical visa document you will need for the visa interview appointment.
Applicants also need to pay the non-refundable application fee. There are generally 3 ways to pay the visa application fee Machine Readable Visa Fee or MRV Fees.
- In-person at an approved bank
- By phone (you’ll receive a fee confirmation number)
You need to print the receipt no matter the payment method since it is another requirement for a Visa Interview appointment.
4. Schedule a US student visa interview and attend it
Next, you will have to schedule a visa interview. You can book a visa interview online or call a nearby US embassy or consulate. Finally, you need to attend the US Student Visa Interview.
The section below has covered what documents you must take for the VISA Interview and the general VISA Interview Questions.
Student VISA process for the USA: Document Checklist for Student Visa Interview.
- Passport (The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your stay in the US.)
- Signed SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 (including individual forms for spouse/children)
- SEVIS fee receipt
- DS-160 application confirmation page with barcode and application ID number
- Confirmation of receipt of Visa application fee payment
- A printed copy of the visa interview appointment letter
- 1-2 photographs in the format explained in the photograph requirements.
- Academic transcripts
- TOEFL, LSAT, GRE, and GMAT test scores
- Proof of funds 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.
Student VISA process for the USA: Visa Interview Question
- Why did you choose this particular course and university?
- Why did you choose the US for further education?
- The details of your Academics and professional experience.
- Your test scores: GRE/GMAT etc.
- What are your plans and goals?
- Your financial plan and source of funds for education duration in the USA.