Types of visas

The type of visa granted to you will depend on the purpose of your visit to the U.S. For academic purposes, students will need to obtain an F-class U.S.A. student visa. These visas cover students planning to pursue full-time degree programs at either the undergraduate or graduate level.

The US Government offers three different student visa types:

S.No. Types of student visa Description
1 F-1 Student Visa to study at an accredited US college or university or to study English at an English language institute
2 J Exchange Visa for participation in an exchange program, including high school and university study
3 M Student Visa for non-academic or vocational study or training in the US

 

As a primary step, you must first apply and be accepted by a US school or university that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once accepted, you will receive a Form I-20 from the institution’s international student office, which is a paper record of your information in the database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

What to do before the visa interview for study in the U.S.A.
Make sure that you complete Form DS-160 before the interview for your U.S. student visa. After completing Form DS-160, print out the confirmation page with the barcode on a laser printer. Then, go to an approved HDFC bank in order to pay the visa application fee. Save the receipt from the payment.

You should also make sure that you have the I-120 form, which is a form issued by colleges in the U.S.A. for affirming enrollment, and you should make sure to pay the I-901 fee online through the U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement website.

Save the receipt.

Finally, make an appointment for a U.S.A. student visa interview through the VFS website. This will require you to have your DS-160 barcode number and your HDFC fee receipt.

What to bring to the U.S. student visa interview

When interviewing for your U.S.A. student visa, make sure not to arrive earlier than 15 minutes before your appointed time, and bring the following documents with you:

  • 1. Valid passport and previously issued passports
  • 2. Recent passport size photograph with a white background (50mm x 50mm)
  • 3. DS-160 confirmation page with barcode
  • 4. HDFC visa application fee receipts
  • 5. VFS appointment letter
  • 6. SEVIS receipt and I-120

Some additional documents that might be required include:

  • 1. Academic preparation documents such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees or certificates
  • 2. Evidence that you have sufficient funds to maintain your living expenses throughout the period of your stay in the US. This may include:
    • Bank statements
    • Financial undertaking by a sponsor to cover your accommodation and living costs
    • A scholarship program
  • 3. Evidence that you will leave the US once you have completed your course of study. This can be in the form of an air ticket out of the US to your home country

You may also have to appear for a personal interview at the US embassy or consulate.

F-1 Student visa

Most students who wish to pursue their studies overseas opt for the F-1 Student Visa. There are three major steps to its procedure, being:

Step 1 SEVIS fee and I-20 form collection Once you pay the SEVIS fee, you are given an I-20 form from your new school or college. Duly fill the form and bring along for your F-1 interview.
Step 2 VISA fee and form collection Pay your visa fee at the designated bank and collect the visa form. Duly fill the form and bring along for your interview.
Step 3 VISA interview Schedule a visa interview with the US embassy in your country. The waiting time may vary depending on the visa type. Once you complete the interview successfully, you’ll receive your visa 120 days in advance.

 

You’ll have to apply for your student visa application online using the US Embassy and Consulates India website(https://in.usembassy.gov/visas/nonimmigrant-visas/). You can apply up to 120 days before your intended date of program’s start date. Remember, your application date is the date when your application fee is paid.

When you first arrive in the US, you must:

  • 1. Contact your designated school official on a priority basis
  • 2. Contact your designated school official again, no later than the program start date listed on your Form I-20

 

Making sure your visa remains valid

Once you get your visa, there are a number of things you need to do to ensure it remains valid, including:

  • 1. Fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued the visa
  • 2. Following the regulations associated with that purpose

 

While studying in the US, you will need to observe the following rules:

  • 1. You must attend and pass all of your classes. If you are finding your studies too difficult, you should speak with your designated school official (DSO) immediately
  • 2. If you think you will be unable to complete your program by the end date listed on your Form I-20, you must talk to your DSO about requesting a possible program extension
  • 3. You must take a full course of study each term. If you cannot study full-time, contact your DSO immediately
  • 4. You cannot drop below a full course of study without consulting with your DSO

You can always come to us for a free counselling session where we can guide you on how to go about the entire visa application process.

 

Evidence of Financial Resources required for F1 Visa

  • 1. Tax returns for the past 3 years (Form 16)
  • 2. Bank statements/passbook for the past 3 years
  • 3. Original pay/salary slips and letters of employment
  • 4. Statement from certified CA
  • 5. Scholarship letter (If the applicant has received it)
  • 6. The loan approval letter by the bank or the concerned authority

 

How to Apply for US Student Visa (F1 Visa)

There are several steps to apply for a student visa:

  1. Your visa process starts when you receive Form I-20 from your college. Though you can pay the SEVIS fee anytime during the application, it is strongly recommended that you pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before you start your US visa application.
  2. After paying the SEVIS fee and getting a receipt, you can apply for a DS-160 visa form. It is an online application form.
  3. Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  4. Pay the visa fee through NEFT or at authorized AXIS bank/Citi bank locations.
  5. Schedule a Biometric appointment and Interview appointment.
  6. For the Biometric appointment, you will be required to appear in person to get your photograph clicked for the visa and get your fingerprints scanned.
  7. At the Personal interview, the interviewer will ask you questions about your choice, of course, college, finances, and intent of coming back. If s/he is convinced, they will keep your passport with them to get the visa stamped. Here is a guide to help you prepare for your F1 Visa Interview.

Remember, F1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days before the starting date of your course of study. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on F1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.

Dependents 

Spouses and children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany the applicant in the US for the duration of his or her stay require F2 or M2 visas. A spouse on F2 status cannot enroll for a full course of study but can take classes that are vocational or recreational in nature like pursuing a hobby or interest, such as cooking or tennis. Children on F2 status are allowed to attend elementary, middle, or high school as a full-time student. They may not enroll in a full-time course of study at a college or university.

The spouse and children of students cannot accept employment at any time during the stay-period on the F2 Visa.

Additional Information

F1 visa holders are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT (optional practical training) on completion of graduation. That means you can work for a year after you finish your studies. It is a temporary employment permission allowing students the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field of study. After that, you’ll be required to apply for a work visa if you have to continue working in the US. You can remain in the US up to 60 days after the completion of your course even if you don’t have a job offer or haven’t applied for OPT.