Obtaining a student visa to study in USA can be an exciting yet complex process. As an international student, it is crucial to understand the requirements and steps involved in securing a student visa. A student visa is an exclusive endorsement added to a government passport, granted to individuals enrolled in accredited International universities. Student visas are non-immigrant visas that allow students to study in a foreign country without becoming a citizen of that country. Before pursuing higher education abroad, students must obtain a student visa from the respective government authorities.
If you are planning to study in the USA, applying for a visa must be your first and foremost step. Students must start their preparation well in advance. There are a few steps to apply for a student visa. In this blog, we will provide a structured guide to help you navigate through the application process and increase your chances of obtaining a student visa for the USA.
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Getting a Student Visa for USA: Stages Involved
Usually, a student has to go through five stages when applying for a US student visa. Let us look at all the stages of applying for a US student visa:
- Apply to a Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) approved school in the USA
- Pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee.
- Complete the US student visa application.
- Pay the visa application fee
- Schedule and attend the visa interview.
Applying to a SEVP-Approved US Institute
The first step towards your US student visa is to choose an institution and course that is approved by the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Accreditation holds great significance as it guarantees that your degree will be recognized by universities, professional associations, employers, and government authorities worldwide.
Only institutions approved by SEVP are authorized to enrol students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). It also provides the necessary documentation for obtaining a US student visa. To find accredited institutions, you can utilize the study in the States website, which is operated by the government.
In contrast to some countries, the US does not have a centralized university application system. Therefore, you will need to apply separately to each institution you are interested in. Each institution will have its admission requirements, and you will typically be asked to demonstrate sufficient financial resources.
Once you receive an acceptance from an institution, they will enrol you in the SEVIS system. After this, you will be issued a SEVIS-generated document known as an I-20 (for F or M visas) or Form DS-2019 (For J visas). It will depend on your eligibility.
SEVP is responsible for overseeing international students with F and M visa classifications. The Department of State (DoS) manages Exchange Visitor Programs and International students under the J visa classification. Both SEVP and DoS utilize SEVIS to monitor and track institutions, exchange visitor programs and international students.
Paying the SEVIS Fee
To initiate the SEVIS fee payment, you can file either an online or paper form. These forms are available on the official US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website. It is crucial to input the required details accurately as they appear on your I-20 or DS-2019 form, ensuring a smooth payment process.
The SEVP website provides detailed information on various payment methods. You can choose from options such as debit or credit card, check, international money order, or Western Union Quick Pay. Ensure that you follow the instructions carefully to complete the payment process accurately.
Once you have paid the SEVIS fee, you have the option to check your payment status on the SEVP website. If someone else, such as your sponsor, is paying the SEVIS fee on your behalf, ensure that you receive a receipt from the third party. This receipt serves as proof of fee payment and should be retained for your records. After processing your payment, you can obtain and print a payment confirmation from the SEVP website.
Complete the US Student Visa Application
Regardless of your location, you must complete the online visa application form DS-160. Provide accurate personal details, passport information, travel plans, previous US travel history, contact information and educational/ work details. Upload a recent photograph as per the specified requirements. Now double-check your responses for accuracy, as errors may require rescheduling your visa interview appointment.
Upon completing the DS-160 form, note down your application ID for future reference. Sign your application electronically and receive a confirmation page with a barcode, barcode number, and application ID. Print this confirmation page, as you will need it for your visa interview.
Pay the Visa Application Fee
Refer to the website of your embassy or consulate for specific instructions on paying the Machine Readable Visa Fee (MRV fee). Depending on the location, you can pay the fee in person at an approved bank, by phone (receiving a fee confirmation number), or online (printing the receipt). Ensure you have the MRV fee receipt for your visa interview appointment.
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Schedule and Attend Visa Interview
Arrange your visa interview by contacting your nearest US embassy or consulate either online or via phone. Schedule the interview after completing the MRV fee payment, as you may be required to provide your MRV fee number. Note that the visa application process must be completed through an interview with a consular officer. Be prepared for varying wait times based on location, season and visa category.
Prepare the Documents
Visit the embassy or consulate website where you will apply to verify the list of documents required for your visa interview. Essential documents are mentioned below:
- A valid passport
- Signed SEVIS form I-20 or DS-2019
- SEVIS fee receipt
- DS-160 Confirmation page
- MRV fee payment confirmation receipt
- Visa interview appointment letter
- Academic transcripts
- Standardized test scores
- Financial evidence
The full form of SEVP is the Student Exchange Visitor Program. Only institutions approved by SEVP are authorized to enrol students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
A US student visa is an exclusive endorsement added to a government passport, granted to individuals enrolled in accredited USA universities. Student visas are non-immigrant visas that allow students to study in the USA without becoming a citizen of the country.
The required documents for a visa interview are a valid passport; signed SEVIS form I-20 or DS-2019; SEVIS fee receipt; DS-160 confirmation page; MRV fee payment confirmation receipt; visa interview appointment letter; photographs; academic transcripts; standardized test scores; financial evidence.
Completing a US student visa application involves several steps. By carefully following these steps and ensuring the accuracy and completeness of your application, you increase your chances of a successful visa outcome. Always refer to the official embassy or consulate websites for the most up-to-date information and instructions.
Our Leverage Edu visa experts are here to help you with the application process. So, connect with us today for a FREE Consultation call or call us on 1800572000.