Many people, especially from India consider pursuing their higher education in the United States. Not only does it offer higher degrees of specialization but also improves job aspects both within and outside the country. To Study in the US one requires a Student Visa. The below article outlines the various aspects involved in the application for a US student visa.
- First and foremost, before applying for a student visa, the applicant needs to have the letter of acceptance or approval from their respective school. If an applicant can pass the qualifying barriers for a school, the educational institution will provide the necessary documentation that is required at the time of Visa application
- Before applying for a student visa application, the candidate must also apply and be selected by an SEVP school. The list of SEVP approved schools can be found on the Department of State Education USA website. Upon acceptance, the applicant is enrolled into the SEVIS program or Student and exchange visitor information system. The applicant must pay the SEVIS fee and will be presented a form I-20 which needs to be submitted to the consular at the time of visa interview
The course of study selected by the applicant will decide the type of student visa required. Below are the various categories of study available along with their corresponding visa
- If the applicant is planning to attend either of the following - Private Elementary School, High School, Conservatory, Seminary, College or University, or any other academic institution which includes a language training program then the type of Visa required is F-1
- If the applicant is planning to attend a vocational or other recognized non-educational institutions other than a program involving language training the type of visa required is M-1
- If the study is for a short period during a recreational visit or is a recreational study that does not provide a certificate or credit then students can use a Visitor visa or B-1 visa
Applying for the United State Student Visa
- The order of steps involved may change from embassy to embassy. Below are the broad guidelines to follow when applying for a student visa
- The applicant must fill out the Non-immigrant visa form DS-160 and print out the form
- The applicant must upload regulation sized photographs and hold a few copies with them when attending the interview
- Attend the scheduled interview. Generally applicants below the age of 13 and above the age of 80 do not require an interview. Ages 14 to 79 are required to attend this interview
- Interviews should be scheduled at the corresponding embassy. Wait times may depend on the type of visa applied and the season. One should schedule an interview early than cut it close to school admission time.
- New F-1 and M-1 student visas are issued up to 120 days ahead of start date of the study course but one cannot enter the United States 30 days before start date
- Continuing students can enter at any time provided they have maintained student status and have their records in SEVIS up to date
- A Non-refundable visa application fee needs to be paid
- If visa is issued, a visa issuance fee needs to be paid
Basic documents required for US Student Visa
- Applicant needs to have a passport that is valid for travel to the United States with a validity of at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.
- The confirmation page of the Non-immigrant visa application form DS-160
- If application fee is to be paid prior to the interview, then the fee receipt
- Regulation sized photographs
- Form I-20 sent by the school for F-1 and M-1 visas. These forms need to be signed both by the school and the individual
- Additional documents may be required which consist of transcripts or diplomas or certificates from schools attended by the applicant
- Standardized test scores required by the US school
- Proof to cover educational, living and other costs
- Intent to depart the country and return to resident country upon the completion of the course
Additional Information to Keep in Mind
- Any student that has a student visa but has not entered the United States in five months or more need to reapply for a visa
- Spouses or dependants who wish to reside alongside the student need to apply for separate individual F-2 or M-2 visas. The school should provide them separate a Form i-20 and the applicant should show their F-1 or M-1 visas to prove relationship. No SEVIS fee payment is required.
- A valid US visa in an expired passport is still valid as long as the visa has not been revoked or cancelled
- One can apply for change of status from current Non-immigrant visa to another Non-immigrant category. This does not require a new visa if the visa is valid. If the visa will expire within the duration of status change, one has to apply for a new visa at their US embassy or consulate
News about USA Student Visa
Highest US Student Visas given by US Consulate in Hyderabad
The US Consulate General that is located in Hyderabad, India issues the most number of student visas in India. It is ranked as the fifth highest US student visa issuer in the world. Michele Bond, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, recently said that Indians form the second largest student community in the US. As per records of 2015, 60,000 students from India received US visa from the US mission in India. Bond also mentioned that Indians are issued a high number of H1-B visas and she said that the number of visitors has not reduced due to hike in visa fees. Besides students, many Indians visit US using tourist and business visas.
Second Yearly Student Visa Day Organised by the US in Multiple Cities
In an effort to enhance higher education ties between the US and India, the US conducted the second yearly Student Visa Day across several of the country's major cities, and more than 4000 youngsters applied for visas in the process. The event was organised by the US Embassy in the national capital. Programmes of a similar nature were also held in Indian cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. The main reason for these programmes is that when students from diverse backgrounds and countries study together, they participate in an exchange of new ideas. It also helps in breaking down stereotypes while promoting knowledge of different cultures and traditions.
US Embassy Holds Student Visa Day
In an effort to strengthen the ties between India and the US when it comes to higher studies, the US embassies across the country hosted a Student Visa Day. The result of the day was that 4000 students applied for visas to the US for the purpose of education. The event was held at the embassies in New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. Studies have shown that even before this event was held, the applications for a student visa to the US had gone up by 29% as compared to last year. It is estimated that right now about 1,32,000 students from India are pursuing higher studies in the US, which happens to be a number second only to that of Chinese students.