As an international student hoping to study in the USA, you will need to get your USA Student Visa. The type of visa will depend on your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend. Though most students get the F1 visa, we will show you below a summary of the process involved to get a United States student Visa from any country.
As already stated, you must have a student visa from a USA embassy or consulate to be able to study in the USA. Whether it is a scholarship or a self-funded program, you need to have obtained your student visa for the USA before you can proceed with your study. The steps to get a USA student visa are outlined below.
Step 1: Apply and Be Accepted in SEVP-approved school in the United States
The first step is to apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States. SEVP is the Student and Exchange Visitor Program of the US government.
If the school accepts your application, you will proceed with the next steps of your application.
PLEASE NOTE: If your spouse and/or children intend to live with you in the United States during your study, they must also enroll in SEVIS and obtain individual form 1-20 from the SEVP-approved school where you have been admitted, and apply for a visa. However, they are not going to pay. So, only you will pay.
Step 2: Pay your SEVIS Fee and Receive your Form I-20
Once you have been accepted into an SEVP-accepted school, you will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee so as to be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). After the payment, your school will provide you with a Form I-20 which you will present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
Step 3: USA Student Visa Application Proper
It is important to understand that the visa application process for a USA Student visa may vary from one US embassy/consulate to another depending on which country you are applying from. To find your country, please visit the USA embassy or USA consulate website.
The vias application is done online. You will complete the form DS-160 and also pay a non-refundable visa application fee which will allow you to fill and submit the Form DS-160 which you need to take to the embassy/consulate for your student visa interview. Remember that you will need a photo to complete Form DS-160.
Step 4: Schedule a Visa Interview
Schedule your US student visa interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live in. Though you can do it outside your country of residence, it is difficult for you to qualify. The wait times for your Visa interview appointments vary by location, season, as well as your visa category. Ensure you apply for your visa early enough. A USA student visa can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of the study start date, however, you will only be able to enter the US with a visa 30 days before your start date.
Those 13 years or younger and 80 years and above do not require a VISA interview to enter the United States. All those within 14 to 79 must attend a visa interview.
Step 5: Prepare For Your Visa Interview
Ensure that you make all the necessary payments. Get all the necessary information that may be required and possible questions that you will be asked during the interview. Put together all the necessary documents.
Documents required For USA Student visa interview:
- A valid passport
- The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
- The application fee payment receipt
- A passport photo
- A Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F1) Student Status (Form 1-20)
PLEASE NOTE: Additional documents may be requested to prove your eligibility for the student visa eg, academic transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates. Test scores such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, or GMAT may also be requested, as well as proof of your intent to depart the U.S. after your program is complete and proof of your financial stability.
Step 6: Attend Your Visa Interview
It is important to know that the consular officer who will interview you will determine if you qualify to be issued a student visa or not. United States Visa issuance is not guaranteed. You may be denied a visa after your interview and you will be given reasons why you were denied.
If you qualify for the student visa, you may be required to pay a visa issuance fee. Your fingerprint and passport will be taken in order to prepare for your visa.
Other important Information For International Students applying for United States Student Visa
Here is some other important information that all the international students who are applying to study in the United States should have at the back of their minds while they continue their student visa application.
Entering the United States After Your Student Visa is Granted
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A United States visa only allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.
Extending Your Stay in the USA after Studies
Foreign students in the United States with student visas must depart the United States within 60 days after the program’s end date. Such students may request an extension through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
Failure to depart the United States on time will result in being out of status and your visa automatically voided. Also, if you fail to depart the United States on time after you complete your studies, it may result in visa denials in the future.
Change of Status during Studies in The United States
Should you change your plans while in the United States, for example, you marry a U.S. citizen or receive an offer of employment, etc, you may be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status to another category through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
You do not require to apply for a new visa if you apply for a status change while still in the USA. However, once you depart the United States you must apply for a new visa at a US Embassy or Consulate in the appropriate category needed for you.
If you have questions and suggestions about how to apply and get a USA students visa from your country, kindly use the comment box below.