United States welcomes foreign citizens to study in the U.S. But before the foreign citizen applies for the Student Visa, he or she are required to be accepted by the school or program of their choice. Once they have been accepted, the institution will provide the applicant the relevant documents that are to be submitted while applying for the student Visa. The student can apply for a Visa within 120 days from the day I-20 filling starts and can travel within 30 days from the I-20 filling.
There are two types of Visas that are offered to the students:
- F-1 Visa:
This is the most common type of student Visa. If you want to engage in academic studies offered by an approved school in the U.S., you will need the F-1 Visa. F-1 is required if your course of study is for more than 18 hours in a week. F-1 Visa Id not issued for students who want to attend public elementary school or a public funded adult education program. F-1 Visa is issued if you intend to attend a public secondary school, but the student will be limited to a maximum of 1 year at the school.
F-1 Visa holders are allowed on campus employment for 20 hours or less per week without any prior authorization. But if the F-1 holder wishes to work for more hours or outside the campus, then he or she must get authorization from the USCIS.
- M-1 Visa:
This Visa is needed if you plan on engaging in non-academic or vocational study in the U.S.
- J-1 Visa:
This Visa is offered to students participating in the exchange program. The J Visa holders are allowed to live in the U.S. for a short period of time that is usually limited to one or two semesters.
Spouses and unmarried children below the ages of 21 who wish to visit the principal F and M Visa holder on vacations may be eligible for the B-2 Visa. The dependents cannot work on a derivative of F or M Visa in the U.S.
Validity of the student Visa
If the student is taking a break in the studies and is returning after more than 5 months, then they can expect a new F-1 or M-1 Visa based on the following:
- Students who are in the U.S.
A student may lose the F or M status if they do not resume studies within 5 months from the date of transferring to another school or program. Though it can be reinstated by the USCIS so that the F or M Visa is not invalid for future travel to the U.S.
- Students returning from the travel abroad
If a student is taking a break from the studies for more than 5 months and travel abroad, then they may lose the F or M status unless their overseas activity was related to their course of study. If they have travelled abroad for activity that is not related to their course of study and are returning after 5 months, then they must apply for a new Visa at the Consulate abroad before travelling to the U.S. to return to their studies.
Optional Practical Training
If a student wants to continue with the Optional Practical Training after the course, they are eligible for 12 months of OPT after completing the course. The following points are to be remembered and followed:
- The student will have to present the I-20 with the original end date of the course.
- I-20 must mention that the designated school is approving you for the Optional
- Practical Training that goes beyond the regular period of study. The student is also required to have a proof that USCIS has approved the training
- program or the application is pending for approval.
- The student must submit the form of approved Employment Authorization Card or Form I-797 that mention that the application for the OPT program is pending.
How to apply for US Student Visa
Once you have chosen the right type of student Visa that suits your requirement, you must apply for it. The application can be done in the following ways:
- Student must approach the U.S. Consulate in the city and fill up the application form for the Visa. Then the student will be scheduled for an interview with the U.S. Consulate. Interviews are generally not required for the people in the age group of 13 and below and 80 and above.
- The people in the age group of 14 to 79 will be required to attend the interview and the consular officer will determine of you are qualified to receive Visa and if so which category is appropriate for you.
If you choose to apply online, then you must follow the following steps:
- Choose the Visa type that is relevant to your situation.
- Complete the Non-immigration Visa Electronic Application.
- Pay the Visa fee for the relevant Visa type.
- Schedule your interview appointment at the Consulate carry the printed copy if your appointment letter, DS-160 confirmation page, current and old passport, Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt and other supporting document for your Visa.
- Schedule your appointment at the Visa Application Centre. Carry your passport, date you paid the fee on and the 10 digit barcode number of the DS-160 confirmation page.
Documents required for US Student Visa
The following documents are to be carried when you are attending your interview with the U.S. Consulate:
- Valid passport
- Previously issued passports
- DS-160 barcode page
- Appointment letter
- Copies of I-797 and I-129 must be carried by the H, L and other petition based Visa applicants.
- F and M students must carry SEVIS receipt and I-20.
- Dependents must bring principal applicants passport copy.
- J exchange students must carry the SEVIS receipt and DS-2019.
- If the applicant is engaging in the Technology related business or study he or she must carry the invitation letter from the sponsoring organization, detailed resume, itinerary, equipment that you plan on purchasing or examining, export license issued by the U.S. government, detailed description of the research you intend on conducting, purpose of visiting the U.S., list of travelers that are accompanying you, current job title that you hold and your job description.
Keep in mind that you cannot get a U.S. Visa on a damaged passport, obtain a new passport before the interview with the U.S. Consulate.
Eligibility for US Student Visa
The Immigration and Nationality Act have a specific requirement that is to be met by the applicants that qualify for the U.S. Student Visa. The eligibility of the student is determined by the U.S. consular officer. The applicant must demonstrate the following:
- Have a residence abroad
- No intention of abandoning that residence
- Intention to depart U.S. up on completion of the course
- Have sufficient fund to pursue the course of study
U.S. student Visa application checklist
The foreign citizen who wishes to apply for the U.S. student Visa must present the following:
- Get approval from the desired institute in the U.S.
- Apply for the student Visa 5 months before the course starts
- 1-20 certificate provided by ISSO
- Letter of admission from the institute
- Financial support documents that shows that you have sufficient funds to meet the expenses for the duration of the program. If you have taken a loan, then the loan approval document should be provided.
- Education documents, that is your certificates along with mark sheets and relevant test scores from TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT or LSAT.
- Valid passport
- Form DS-160
- 2 passport sized photographs
- Machine Readable Visa which is currently at $160
- Receipt of SEVIS fee payment which is $200.