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USA Student Visa Consultants
With the ever-increasing number of international students in America, a study conducted in May 2017 showed that around 206,698 students were from India that year alone. The maximum number of students studying STEM (Science. Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in the US are from India, at an overwhelming figure of 84%.
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Types of USA Student Visa
Studying in the USA is the dream of many international students. Each student planning to study in the USA requires a USA student visa to attain his study in the USA dream. A USA student visa can be divided into three main categories namely F1 student visa, J1 exchange visitor visa, M1 student visa.
F1 student visa
The F1 visa is ideal for international students willing to pursue an academic degree from a USA university or want to learn English from an English language institute. All undergraduate and graduate programs (such as MS or MBA) that require above 18 hours of study per week can be accomplished via an F1 student visa.
The dependents (spouse or children) who want to accompany an F1 student visa holder can apply and travel on an F2 visa.
- The F2 visa does not give employment permission to the spouse.
- To be eligible for an F2 visa, the age of the child must be under 21 years.
- F1 visa permits on-campus employment of up to 20 hours per week to the visa holder.
J1 Exchange Visitor Visa
The J1 exchange visitor visa is for the youths seeking to participate in an exchange program in the USA. The program may include a medical, business, any other kind of training, or a research program. The applicant must meet the eligibility criteria of the underlying program to acquire a J1 exchange visitor visa successfully. The dependents willing to accompany a J1 exchange visa holder can travel on a J2 visa.
M1 Student Visa
The M1 visa allows international students to attend a non-academic or vocational training program in a USA institute. The application process for an M1 and an F1 visa is almost the same. The difference here is,
- unlike an F1 visa, an M1 visa allows the stay for a fixed duration and cannot be extended
- No employment (off-campus or on-campus) is permitted to the visa holders
The dependents can acquire an M2 visa to accompany an M1 visa holder to the country.
USA Student Visa – Entry Requirements
- The minimum academic qualification of the candidate must be 12th.
- The candidate must hold at least a 5.5 band in the IELTS exam or equivalent (in case of other exams such as GRE/ GMAT/ SAT and TOEFL/ PTE).
- The intakes are allowed in the months of January, May, and September.
GMAT – for management-related subjects.
GRE – for other subjects (such as engineering, and science, and STEM).
SAT – for getting scholarship (Only undergraduate)
Language proficiency exam (such as IELTS, TOEFL. PTE) – for admission in a USA school or university
USA Student Visa – Document Requirement
Proof of financial stability (such as bank statements, Bank balance certificate, Affidavit of financial sponsor)
Proof of language proficiency (such as IELTS, TOEFL, PTE)
Passport size photographs
Employment experience letter (if any)
Validity of USA Student Visa
The validity of a USA student visa depends on the type of visa you choose to study in USA. The F1 visa is the most common type of visa applied by international students wishing to study in USA and the maximum validity of the same is five years.
Step by Step Process to Apply for a USA Student Visa
The process starts with putting an application of enrolment in a USA SEVP school or university. You are likely to obtain an I-20 form from the underlying school after you get an admission successfully. The next important steps to go ahead are
- Settling the SEVIS fee.
- Acquiring form DS-160 (an online visa application form required to apply for a USA student visa).
- Filling the DS-160 form.
- Collecting a copy of the form submission success page.
- Paying the visa fees.
- Planning for an interview in your convenient US embassy.
- Appearing in the interview as per the schedule.
- Awaiting a reply from the US embassy.
Acquiring a USA student visa is a lengthy process that involves a certain set of steps. Hence, a student is required to prepare in advance (three to five months before the commencement of the study program). The general steps involved in a USA student visa process are given as under
Applying to a USA university or institution
The process starts with putting an application of enrollment in a USA school or university. Being an international student, you must assure that the institute you choose to apply to is SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) approved. After your application gets accepted, the university will enter your details in the SEVIS system and send you an I-20 form (for F and M visas) or Form DS-2019 (for J visas).
Settling the SEVIS fee
The fees must be paid at least three days before the submission of the US student visa application. The task can be accomplished using US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SEVP website.
Make sure to enter the exact details as mentioned in your I-20 or DS-2019 form. Don’t miss to fetch and retain the payment confirmation proof as it will be required in the further steps.
Completing the Application
The next step is to complete your USA student visa application. For this, you need to fill an online application form called (DS-160). All the mandatory documents should be ready in digital format while you complete the application form. The personal details to be given in the form include your name, DOB, contact details, address, passport details, educational background, health details, SEVIS ID, and so on.
Paying the Visa Fees
You can pay either offline or online. Ensure to collect the fee receipt as it will be needed during your visa interview appointment.
Scheduling and attending an interview in your convenient US embassy
It’s time to complete the final step now i.e. attending the visa interview. You can do so by appearing for a physical interview at your nearby US embassy. Below is a list of documents that you may need during your visa interview
Your I-20 or DS-2019 form.
A valid passport (must be valid for at least six months besides your expected stay duration).
- SEVIS fee receipt.
- DS-160 confirmation page.
- Receipt of fee payment.
- Copy of interview appointment letter.
Do carry your academic records, employment experience letters (if any), marriage certificate (if applicable), and other important documents while heading towards the visa interview.
Awaiting a reply from the US embassy.
Now, it’s time to sit patiently and await the decision from the US embassy. This may take some time. You will be notified once the decision is ready.
F-1 or M1 visas are Student visas, and they can be your entry ticket for studying in the USA. While F-1 visas permit candidates pursuing an academic program or a language course, M-1 visas are applicable for candidates seeking non-vocational courses.
With F-1 and M-1 visas, international students are permitted to stay in the country for 60 days or more, or until the course completion.
Qualifying for Student Visas
There are specific pre-requisites to be fulfilled by the applicants. They are:
- Proof of Foreign Residence: To show the authorities that you have your residence in your home country or another foreign land and that there are binding factors to return home to on course completion.
- Proof of Admission: To prove that you have secured a place in one of the institutions in America. You will be allowed to study only in the institution which sponsors you for an F-1 visa.
- Proof of Financial Capability: This documentation has to be submitted to confirm that you can bear your education and living expenses during the period of your stay in the US. Proof of funding from family, sponsorships from the country or through private international student loans, or other documents will be required to be submitted as a proof of financial capability.
How to Apply for F-1/M1 Visa
- Your application must be accepted in one of the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) approved academic institutions.
- On receiving acceptance, you must pay the SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor) 1-901 fee as applicable. You will be enrolled in the SEVIS system. The educational institution will provide an eligibility certificate in the Form I-20, which is mandatory to take the application process further.
- You can fill Form-DS 160 online and produce a printout of the form in your visa interview. You may have to bear a visa application fee which is non-refundable.
- Schedule your visa interview with the consulate well in advance.
- During the visa interview, the documents you produce will be verified for their authenticity. You will be questioned about your study plans, financial position, and other areas.
Postponement doesn’t mean that your application is rejected. It only means that you have to wait a little longer to get the decision. In case your visa application gets rejected, you can apply again with a new application. Our USA education consultant can guide you better in this respec
- Your passports.
- I-20 (Offer letter)
- A printed copy of the DS-160 success page.
- SEVIS payment receipt.
- VFS appointment letter.
- Visa application fee receipt.
- All original academic documents
- Financial documents
The general questions like the questions about your academic background, study plans, your purpose of going to the USA, your employment experience (if any), the reasons to choose the USA for further studies, and so on. A USA education consultant can provide a thorough list of questions you are likely to come across while attending a USA student visa interview.
120 days prior to the date of enrolment (as mentioned in the I-20 form).
You have to complete at least one year in the school or university from which you received the I-20 Form. After that, you can try changing it, however, taking a cautious decision at the beginning itself is a smart move in which a USA education consultant can proffer the right assistance.
It’s illegal to stay in the USA beyond the duration allotted by your visa. You may encounter heavy punishments (such as a ban on re-entry for a specific duration) if you found guilty.
Depends on the type of visa you acquire. For example, an F1 student visa permits on-campus employment of up to 20 hours per week whereas an M1 student visa does not allow any off-campus or on-campus employment.
At least six months besides your expected duration of stay.