Many people want to study abroad especially in the US, but they don’t have any idea on how to secure a US student visa. If you fall in this category, then you are in the right place. We have provided you with an easy guide that will help you navigate through the US Visa process.
In this read, you will learn how to how to get us student visa, the basic US student visa requirements, and other relevant guides on how to study in America in 2023.
Basic facts About US Students Visa You Should Know
A student visa is a type of visa required by foreign nationals to study and stay in the US for the duration of their studies.
Below are important facts you should know about US students’ VISA.
SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is a database used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect, track, and monitor, international students, and scholars who enter the United States on a specific student visa. Before applying for your student visa you will need to pay the SEVIS fee.
This is a Certificate of Eligibility document issued by a U.S. government. It is an approved educational institution certifying that a student has been admitted to a full-time program. and has proof of sufficient financial resources to stay in the United States for his or her duration of studies.
Form DS-160 is used to apply for temporary U.S. visas. This form also known as Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application is required from everyone that wants to travel to the US short term.
Type of Student Visa
There are three different types of student visas, and the student visa application process varies for each type. The course of study and the type of institution determines the category of visa that will be issued to the student. There are three major types of student visas for which international students can apply in US
F-1 Student Visa
This type of visa is issued to students who wish to study or conduct research at an accredited US college, university, high school, private elementary school, approved English language school, or other approved academic institutions.
To qualify for this type of visa, a student must enroll in an accredited school in US, the institution must give the I-20 form to the student, the student must have proof of sufficient financial support during their stay in the US.
Note with this type of visa you cannot work in USA except part-time job on campus which cannot exceed 20 hours per week.
J-1 Student Visa
J-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals who will be participating in a work and study-based exchange visitor program that promotes cultural exchange in the US, especially for medical or business training.
To qualify for a J-1 visa, the participant must be proficient in the English language and have appropriate medical insurance.
All applicants must meet the eligibility criteria and be sponsored by the government or a private-sector program. They must have proof of funds to cover their expenses in the US and be able to show plans to remain in the US for a specific period, including their return to their home country.
The participant will receive a DS-2019 form from his/her sponsoring organization or US government agency, which is necessary to apply for a J-1 visa.
An M-1 visa is a non-immigrant student visa for individuals who want to pursue a full course of study at a non-academic institution or vocational school in the US. To qualify for an M-1 visa, applicants must be accepted by a vocational institution approved by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).
Applicants must be sufficiently fluent in English, have sufficient funds, have a permanent residence in their home country, and intend to leave the US upon completion of the course of study.
M-1 students may stay in the US for a fixed time period but may not stay more than one year unless they are granted an extension for medical reasons. M-1 visa holders may stay for the length of their training program and optional practical training plus a 30-day grace period at the end of their training.
Applicants must present a signed I-20 form at a US embassy or consulate in their home country, issued by a designated school official. M-1 visa holders are not allowed to work on or off-campus during the course of their studies.
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Easy step by step on getting a student visa in US
The best way to secure is US student Visa is by following the steps below
- Apply for a school in USA
- Receive Form I-20 or DS-2019
- Next pay SEVIS Fee (I-901)
- Fill Form DS-160
- Schedule Visa Interview
- Pay Visa Application Fee
- Attend Visa Interview
- Visa Approve or Decline
#1. Apply for a school in USA
Before you apply for a student visa you will need to apply for admission into the Undergraduate or Graduate program. The school must be on the list of schools approved by SEVIS. Applications to different courses and universities in the U.S.A can be made 3 times a year which include fall semester, spring semester, and summer.
Application for admission can be submitted online between December and January then expect admission notification from the school around March or April.
Once you received notification of admission then you can proceed with visa application processes. Please note, a student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20.
#2. Receive Form I-20 or DS-2019
Now that you have been admitted you will receive a document called form I-20 or form DS-2019 form from the institution’s international student office. Students can use Form I-20 can to apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa and form DS-2019 can be used to apply for a J-1 visa.
Form I-20 has the student’s SEVIS identification number (which starts with the letter N and is followed by nine digits, on the upper righthand side directly above the barcode), school’s address, and other important information concerning your program.
This form I-20 will be required to pay certain fees as you proceed with your student visa application.
#3. Next pay SEVIS Fee (I-901)
You can proceed to pay the SEVIS fee online using their portal. For the payment, procedure follow the guideline below
- Type https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.html on the address bar
- At the centre of the navigation menu click on pay I-901 fee, it will open another page
- On this new page enter your SEVIS ID, Last name, Given name ( fisrt name and middle name), date of birth
- Click submit
- Incase of any mistake you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and explain what information may need to be changed.
- After the payment, print out your confirmation page because you will need to show it during your visa interview.
#4. Fill Form DS-160
The next step is to complete or fill form DS-160 on U.S Department of state portal (Consular electronic application center). It takes approximately 90 minutes to fill this form on their portal.
You should have the following documents available while you complete your DS-160.
- You need Passport details
- Digital photograph
- International travel history for the past five years (if you have travel to United State before)
- Travel itinerary incase you have made travel arrangement
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae – (current and previous education and work history may be required)
- SEVIS ID and address of university or institution as printed they appear on Form I-20 or Form DS-2019(This information is your I-20 or DS-2019 form)
- Family information
To fill form DS-160 follow the following steps
- Enter https://ceac.state.gov on the address bar
- Click on Ds-160, online nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Fill the form
- Click submit
Note: you will be required to sign your signature electronically after you successfully complete the application. Print the confirmation page you receive after signing the application; it includes a 10-digit barcode and your application ID number, which you will need to make your visa interview appointment.
#5. Schedule Visa Interview
The next stage is to book or schedule a visa interview by contacting the nearest US embassy or consulate. The Visa application process will remain incomplete until you appear for an interview with a consular officer.
Visa Application Center (VAC) Appointment
The next thing after an appointment with the embassy is Visa Application Center (VAC) Appointment to carry out biometric. This appointment with the visa application center for biometric should be at least a day or two before the interview at the consulate
#7. Pay Visa Application Fee
Now that you have scheduled your visa interview proceeds to make payment. This fee is the same price regardless of your country of origin and where you apply. Note that when you pay this fee will vary depending on your embassy.
Although many embassies require applicants to pay the application fee before their interviews, not all do. Your embassy should instruct you as to when and how you’ll need to pay your visa application fee. If your embassy requires you to pay this fee before your interview, be sure to bring your receipt as proof of payment to your interview.
#8. Attend Visa Interview
Now is the time to attend the visa interview because without an interview you will not be given a visa even though you have met other requirements. The interview is the determinant of whether you will be given a visa or not so you need to prepare for it. You will need the following documents for the visa interview:
- Valid Passport
- SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019
- SEVIS fees receipt
- DS-160 application confirmation page
- MRV fee payment confirmation receipt
- Visa interview appointment letter
- At least 2 Photographs
Also, prepare the following documents:
- Financial capacity proof
- Transcripts from previous school attended
- Standardized test scores (if required by your US school)
#9. Visa Approve or Decline
After the interview, they can either approve or decline your visa depending on your performance and how well you comply with the visa application process. Once you’ve completed all of the steps above and have received approval for an international student visa to the US, your embassy will return your passport to you with your new visa in it.
We hope our guide will be helpful to you in getting your US students Visa and applying for your study program. Our article on Top 25 Most Affordable States to Study Abroad will also benefit you.
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