The US remains a popular choice for higher education among students globally. Applying for a college and finally selecting one in the US is an uphill task. Around 100,000 students apply for a US visa every year from India.
You have gone through a long journey before reaching the visa application stage, be it giving tests, selecting colleges, preparing your applications, getting an admit or planning for your finances. You have made your way through all challenges.
It is paramount that you know the steps that need to be followed before applying for a US Student Visa. This article will discuss the details of US study visa for students to help students realise their study in USA dream. For more information on how to apply, check out our other article on US Student Visa application.
There are mainly three types of US Visas for students depending upon the course you intend to pursue: F visa, M visa and J Visa. The F visa is for universities and colleges, and the M visa is for vocational courses. We will discuss these visas in further detail.
Different types of US Student Visas
Three types of student visas:-
It is one of the most common and most popular visas amongst all. This type of visa is mainly for students looking to pursue a full-time course in the US (18+ hours per week). As an F-1 visa holder, you can pursue any course, i.e. diploma, bachelor's, master's, PhD, and can also work part-time for 20 hours every week. Under the optional practical training program, you can likewise work for a year with an F-1 Visa after securing your degree. However, you can extend it for another year. Always keep yourself updated with F1 visa news, and also keep track of your F1 Visa Status.
The second-highest number of student visas issued are M1 visas. Mainly for the students who wish to pursue a vocational course from a non-academic institution in the US. These courses include culinary expressions, media creation, clinical help, cosmetology, and other specialised courses. There is a provision of a 12-month stay, or till the time the course is ongoing. However, you can extend your stay tenure by applying to the US citizenship and immigration service department. However, you cannot work anywhere in the US with your M-1 visa.
It is a six-month scholars visa for any understudy, visiting researcher, or instructor looking for work and study-based guest programs in the US. The J-1 visa includes internships, international visitor programs, or any other short-term programs. You can stay in the US on a J-1 visa till your exchange program is completed.
Once you have completed your studies and got a job in the US, you can convert your Student visa to a professional working visa (H1B).
When to apply for a US student visa?
You should apply for a US Visa for Student as soon as you receive your I-20 form from your university, in which you are taking admission. The F-1 visa is given 120 days before the beginning of your course. Be that as it may, you won't be permitted to enter the US until 30 days before the beginning date of your course. So you should plan your future course of action accordingly. Usually, it takes 5-6 weeks to complete the whole visa process (including receiving your visa).
Visa application process
There are seven-steps in the visa application process:-
Step 1. Applying for admission to US Universities
Apply for admission as early as possible so that you can get your confirmation soon. After getting selected by a college or university, then only you should apply for a visa. It is advised that you should apply for SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) recognised colleges.
Step 2. Receiving your I-20 form
Once any university in the US has selected you, they will mail you the I-20 form. The form will have the university's name and address, with the SEVIS (Student and Exchange visitor information system) ID.
Step 3. Payment of SEVIS fees
Paying the SEVIS fee is the next important step before you apply for the visa. This fee is around $200 and can be paid using your credit card.
Step 4. Fill the visa application form
Once you have paid your SEVIS fees, you should fill the DS-160 form: a non-immigrant visa application form. The following are the documents needed at the time of the interview:-
- Passport size photo
- I-20 form details
- Travel schedule, in case you have any travel plans
- CV and Resume
- Any travel history (any US visit)
- 10+2 mark sheet
- Loan sanction statements
- Scholarship letter
- Salary slip of parents
- Fixed deposit receipts by bank
- Passbook details
- Verification of purpose to leave the US after your program has finished.
- Proof of assets to oversee schooling, living, and travel costs.
All the documents mentioned above will come into play while filling an application form. Take a printout of the confirmation page once you have filled the form successfully. To get a visa by showing false material or by misrepresentation may result in the refusal of a visa or your entry into the United States.
Step 5. Scheduling of Interview
You have to schedule an interview with your nearest US embassy. Select your appointment time as per your convenience. You can book your appointment by telephone or by visiting the US embassy.
Step 6. Payment of visa application fees
You have to pay a fee of $160 (as of 2021). Only after paying the required payment, you will get an opportunity to face an interview. You can contact the US embassy to know more about the fees.
Step 7. In-Person interview
It is one of the most important and crucial aspects of the application process. It will decide whether you are eligible for a visa or not. You have to prepare very well. You can likewise take a look at a couple of interviews that are accessible on the web.
The steps mentioned above are easy and should be followed diligently.
What to do if your visa is rejected?
The US denies a vast number of visa applications consistently, for reasons going from the absence of planning to genuine appalling violations concerning the candidate. In the unfortunate event of your visa application being rejected, there is no need to worry. Numerous reasons lead to visa rejection. The embassy might furnish you with the reason behind the dismissal. Some of the primary reasons are:-
- Failure to provide adequate evidence of assets to finance your schooling.
- You failed to bring on the record all the necessary reports in the meeting, or you gave bogus documentation.
- You were unable to pass the security check.
- You missed the visa meeting or were late for the visa meeting.
- On the off chance that you are exceptionally reluctant about the appropriate responses and don't answer sensibly.
But you can avoid all the mistakes mentioned above to ensure that your visa doesn't get rejected. Always bring all the required documents demanded by the embassy, and don't be nervous while talking to the interview officials. In case your application gets rejected, there is no fee refund.
COVID-19's impact on the process
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement department has permitted US Universities to send Forms I-20 to students during the pandemic via email. For minor students, the email address can belong to either their parent or a legal guardian.
The emailed Form I-20 is now being considered officially to apply for the visa by the US embassy. As a result, you can hold on to your shipping fees.
You must pay your I-901 fees to get the visa appointment at the earliest by applying to the US embassies.
Can you convert your F1 student visa to a Green Card?
Planning for your life after graduation is essential. You should apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), a temporary employment permit directly related to your primary area of study. OPT is given to international students to demonstrate to potential employers that they have the skills. Most employers want to see how you work and your skills for a few months before deciding to hire you full time and sponsor your work visa (H1B visa).
H1B visa (general)
It is a non-immigrant visa program that permits US managers to employ individuals who possess practical and theoretical knowledge with an undergraduate degree.
Numerous global students on F1 visa looking to move from an undergraduate or graduate program desire to change their visa status from F1 to H1B. Before applying for H1B, many students apply for OPT, giving them enough time to get an employer to sponsor their H1B visa. Follow the H1b Visa Process properly to avoid any inconvenience. Keep checking H1B visa news frequently.
H1B visa holders enjoy the following benefits :
- They can work lawfully in the USA for a time of 3 to 6 years.
- They will gain practical and hypothetical experience related to their field of interest.
- Can bring their mate and family members to the US on an H4 visa.
- Travel all through the USA as long as the legitimate H1B status is kept up.
- One can apply for perpetual residency in the USA, otherwise called a green card.
A Green Card, or Permanent Resident Card (PR), is a permanent renewable visa for the USA. It gives you the status of a permanent resident along with legal rights to work in the USA. After obtaining a green card, you may apply for US citizenship after a few years of staying in the USA..
Many students studying in the US look for PR or a long-term visa after completing their program. For that, you must secure a job, and your employer will assist you in getting a US work visa. From October to November, The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as Green Card Lottery, allots 55,000 immigrant visas (green cards) to foreign nationals. Immigrant visas are made available to people from countries with low immigration rates to the US via the green card lottery.
If you are amongst the students who have effectively got admission into your dream college, applying for a Student Visa is the next significant step to fulfil your dream to study in the US. It is not tough to secure a US Visa for Student, but you should know the application process altogether to avoid any mistakes on your part.
It is indeed a long cycle; however, if you are diligent and have full faith in your potential, it will be easy for you to qualify for the visa process. It is the last obstacle before you fly out to your college and start your next part. So strive to make your future bright. You have to keep in mind the type of visa you wish to apply for. It is essential to mention that the green card process can be extraordinarily long. However, if you intend to carry on with your professional life in the United States, a green card is your best answer for acquiring permanent resident status. We hope that this article has addressed all your questions about the US visa application process..