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Study Abroad Guide

Study in USA: Visa Guide for Students

November 2015

US Colleges and Universities

As far as studying abroad goes, the United States of America is the most popular destination worldwide, each year attracting more and more foreign students. If you are hoping to study abroad in the US and grab a slice of the American dream though, you will need a USA Student Visa. Whilst this is a vital step in the studying abroad application process, it need not be confusing. This article takes you through each step of applying and securing a student visa for studying in America.

Getting your visa to study in the United States takes time but can be a surprisingly easy procedure. It is well worth the effort. In many countries, the number of student visas issued by the United States has grown significantly in the last year.

While the application process for an international student or exchange visitor visa can be confusing, hundreds of thousands of students are able to meet the requirements for a visa each year.

US Department of Homeland Security's follow the policy of - "Open Doors Secure Borders"

USA visa is divided broadly into two categories:

  • Non-Immigrant and Immigrant visas.
  • A non-immigrant visa is a short-term visa for a temporary stay, while an Immigrant visa facilitates permanent stay in U.S.
  • Students who wish to study in USA are required to apply for a non-immigrant visa and the type of visa is mentioned on the I-20, which is F1, M1, and J1.

When should a student apply for a US visa ?

  • As soon as the student receives the I - 20 from the University he / she can start with the visa process.
  • He / She cannot take a visa date more than 120 days before the program start date on Form I-20.
  • A student cannot enter USA more than 30 days prior to the program date.

Basic Requirements for a US Student Visa

  • Student wishing to study in USA must satisfy an officer that.
  • Must satisfy that his intentions to enter USA are for educational purposes only.
  • That they have sufficient funds for their tuition fees, to maintain themselves and stay in USA.
  • They will leave USA by the end of the period authorized for his stay.
  • That they will not contravene the conditions of admission (for example that they will not work without prior authorization or waiver).

Eligibility for USA Students Visa

  • Student should have a valid I-20 from the Educational Institution from USA.
  • SEVIS payment.
  • Relevant academic or admission tests like TOEFL, GMAT, etc are recommended but not mandatory.
  • Students who have sufficient funds for the duration of the course. 1st year's funds in liquid assets.

How to pay the visa fees and payment options?

  • Each visa applicant is required to pay a non-refundable, non-transferable machine-readable visa (MRV) application fee, whether a visa is issued or not.
  • There are 3 modes of payment for paying the visa application fees of 160 USD. (Check current rate available on payment page of the profile)
  • National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT)
  • Through Mobile Phones (IMPS)
  • Pay in cash over the counter at 1,800 Axis and Citibank branches. Druk bank is only in Bhutan.

USA Student Visa Interviews

  • There are two appointments to be scheduled at the same time and both interviews are on two different days.
  • Appointment 1 - Students have to visit Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit fingerprints and photo prior to actual visa interview.
  • Appointment 2 - Actual consular visa interview at US Embassy or Consulate.

Supporting Documents for USA Visa Interview

  • All original documents should be carried, make sure that there are no fake documents.
  • Passport, Visa fee receipt, Interview appointment letter, DS-160 Confirmation page.
  • I-20 in original with the student's signature.
  • SEVIS fee receipt.
  • Financial resources: Original documents required. Proof of liquid assets sufficient to pay for the entire first year expenses as well as proof of semi.
  • Liquid assets to cover the remaining years of studies and IT Returns of the sponsor.
  • Academic documents.
  • Acceptance letter or rejection letter from any other university.


How can I apply for a student visa for the United States?

How to apply for student visa in USA is a common question that international students frequently ponder upon. The steps to apply for a student visa (F-1) for the USA are as mentioned below:

  1. Obtain a Letter of Acceptance from a school of university in USA
  2. SEVIS Fee Payment
  3. Fill out the online DS-160 Form
  4. Visa Application Fee Payment
  5. Make an appointment for a Visa interview via the US Embassy or Consulate website
  6. Compile all the documents required for US student visa
  7. Show up for the Visa interview
  8. If applicable, make the Visa Issuance Fee Payment
  9. Wait while your Visa is being processed
  10. If required, be a part of a Visa orientation
  11. Obtain your Student Visa (F-1) to study in USA
  12. Depart and arrive in the country prior to the commencement of your course

The particular prerequisites and processes may differ to some extent based on one’s location, and thus, it is advisable to investigate the same on the website of the US embassy or consulate in your home country.

What kinds of student visas are available in the US?

A common question among many international students embarking on their journey to pursue higher studies in the USA is how to get a student visa for USA? Mentioned below are the different types of student visa in USA:

  1. F-1 Visa: This type of visa is required for academic and language instruction courses.
  2. J-1 Visa (Exchange Visitor Visa): A visa of this type is required for exchange programs, including study, research, and cultural exchange.
  3. M-1 Visa: An M-1 Visa is required for vocational and non-academic courses.
  4. J-2 Visa: This Visa is mainly required for dependents of J-1 visa holders.
  5. F-2 Visa and M-2 Visa: Dependents i.e., spouses and unmarried children of F-1 or M-1 visa holders need to obtain the F-2 Visa and M-2 Visa
  6. Q Visa: A Q Visa is primarily required by participants in international cultural exchange programs
  7. H-3 Visa: This Visa type is required by people traveling to the USA for the purpose of receiving training from an employer, including special education exchange visitors
  8. M-3 Visa: This is a special category for both, Mexican as well as Canadian students enrolled in vocational or non-academic courses.
  9. U Visa: This Visa type is mainly for victims of particular crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a student while in the USA.

Visa rules and categories may differ, thus, for the most recent information and eligibility standards pertaining to each type of visa, it is crucial to get in touch with the closest US embassy or consulate or visit the official website of the US government.

What criteria must be met in order to obtain each form of student visa in the US?

Although the America study visa process can be challenging, with the proper assistance, it is feasible. To obtain different types of student visa in USA, the USA student visa requirements mentioned below must be fulfilled:

  • For F-1 Student Visa:
  1. Letter of Acceptance
  2. Enrolled full-time in an academic or language program
  3. Non-immigrant Intention: The student, on completion of his/her studies in the USA, must propose to return back to his/her home country
  4. Form I-20: A Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20) from the school, must be submitted
  5. Payment of SEVIS Fee: The SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee must be paid
  6. Proof of Funds: The student must show that he has adequate funds to pay for tuition fees, costs of living, as well as other expenses.
  7. Attend a Visa Interview
  • For M-1 Student Visa (Vocational or Non-Academic Study): The USA study visa requirements for an M-1 Student Visa are:
  1. Letter of Acceptance from a SEVP-approved vocational or non-academic school
  2. Enrolled full-time in the vocational program
  3. The student must show that he possesses adequate finances
  4. Non-immigrant Intent: On completion of the program, the student must propose to return to his/her home country
  5. Form I-20: Students should obtain a Form I-20 from their school
  6. The SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee must be paid
  7. Attend a Visa Interview
  • J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa (Exchange Programs): The US study visa requirements for the same entail:
  1. Acquiring Sponsorship: A U.S. Department of State-approved exchange program needs to sponsor a student
  2. Eligibility Criteria: The exchange program’s particular eligibility standards must be fulfilled
  3. Obtain Visa Sponsorship: Students should acquire a DS-2019 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status) from their program sponsor
  4. The student must demonstrate that he possesses adequate funds
  5. Intent to return: Upon completion of the program, the student should demonstrate that he/she intends returning to his/her home country
  6. The SEVIS fee must be paid
  7. A Visa Interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate must be attended by the student   

The above are only general standards; however, personal situations may differ. To obtain the most recent information pertaining to student visas, get in touch with the U.S. Department of State and the particular university or program.

What is the cost of applying for a student visa in the United States?

Based on the type of visa one is applying for, the cost of applying for a student visa in the USA differs. For academic as well as language study programs, the F-1 visa is the most common student visa, the application fee for which is $160. In addition, those applying for an F-1 visa may be required to pay additional charges for other services, viz., the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee, the cost of which is $350.

The above mentioned US student visa fees can alter, and thus, for the most recent information pertaining to visa application fees as well as the prerequisites, student’s should get in touch with the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country or visit the U.S. Department of State’s official website for the latest fee information.

Where can I apply for a student visa in the United States?

For one wondering how to apply USA study visa, one should begin by conducting an extensive study on the specific prerequisites for his/her chosen university and program. One can apply for a student visa in the USA at:

  1. S. Department of State: Information pertaining to the visa application process is provided on the official government website.
  2. S. Embassy or Consulate: The nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can be visited by students in their home country.
  3. Online Application (DS-160): The initial step in the US student visa process involves filling out the DS-160 form online.
  4. Payment of Visa Fees: Students are required to pay the visa application fee. This can generally be done online.
  5. Schedule an Interview: To schedule an interview at the embassy or consulate, students can visit the U.S. Department of State's website.
  6. Compile the necessary documents: Gather all the required documents, viz., your visa application confirmation, passport, financial documentation, as well as Form I-20 from your U.S. school.
  7. Attend the Visa Interview: Students should attend the scheduled interview carrying all the required documents. Be well prepared to answer questions pertaining to your study abroad plans.
  8. Visa Approval: If accepted, your visa will be attached to your passport, and you will be eligible to study in USA.
  9. Visa Refusal: If turned down, the student will receive a reason for the refusal, and after addressing the concerns, he/she can reapply.
  10. Prepare to travel: On receiving the student visa, one should make travel plans to the USA and make sure he/she has all the mandatory documentation for his/her journey.

How long does it take to process a student visa application in the United States?

Based on several factors viz., the particular U.S. embassy or consulate where the application is submitted, the time of year, as well as the candidate's particular situations, the processing time for a USA student visa process from India can differ. The processing of a student visa application can generally take a few weeks to a few months. Candidates should submit their applications beforehand, at least 3-5 months before the commencement of their preferred program. Doing so provides for adequate processing time, and you can inquire about the most recent processing time estimates with the particular US embassy or consulate. Processing timeframes can also be influenced by variables viz., administrative procedures, backlogs, and security clearances.

What documentation is needed to apply for a student visa in the US?

The US student visa process can be challenging, requiring thorough planning and documentation. To submit an application for a student visa (typically an F-1 visa) in the United States, the US student visa requirements for Indian citizens requires one to submit the following documents:

  1. Complete Visa application form (DS-160)
  2. Receipt for the visa application fee
  3. Proof of SEVIS fee payment
  4. A valid Passport
  5. A Letter of Acceptance from an institution in the USA
  6. Passport-sized photos
  7. Form I-20 (for F-1 visa) or Form DS-2019 (for J-1 visa)
  8. Academic mark sheets and diplomas
  9. Results of English proficiency tests viz. the IELTS or TOEFL
  10. Results of Standardized tests (e.g., SAT, ACT)
  11. Other documents viz., Statement of Purpose (SOP), Letters of Recommendation (LoRs), Resume/CV, and any pertinent work experience documents
  12. Proof of Funds
  13. Intent to return to your country of origin after completing your studies
  14. Immunization and health history
  15. Police clearance certificate
  16. Visa interview appointment confirmation

To learn about the particular prerequisites and any updates pertaining to the visa application process, it is important to look up the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country since these specifications can change over time.

What is the interview procedure for a student visa in the United States?

There are several steps involved in the interview procedure for a student visa in the USA:

  1. Form DS-160: Fill in the online Non-immigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) and get the confirmation
  2. SEVIS Fee Payment: The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee must be paid.
  3. I-20 Form: Obtain a Form I-20 from the U.S. University where you have secured admission.
  4. Apply for the Visa Online: Fill out the online DS-160 visa application form and upload your photo.
  5. Visa Appointment: Schedule an appointment at the American embassy or consulate that is closest to you.
  6. Visa Fee Payment: Pay the visa application fee, which is not
  7. Prepare for the Visa Interview:
    • Compile all the necessary documents, including the DS-160 confirmation, SEVIS fee receipt, I-20 form, visa fee receipt, passport, and a passport-sized photograph.
    • Gather the required financial documents to demonstrate your ability to pay for tuition and living expenses.
    • Examine your connections to your home country to show that you intend returning back there on completion of your studies.
  8. Visa Interview:
    • Be present for the visa interview at the specified U.S. embassy or consulate.
    • Prepare yourself to talk about your educational objectives, course of study, financial circumstances, as well as your intent to return to your country of origin.
  9. Biometrics: If needed, submit biometric information (fingerprints).
  • Visa Decision: Obtain a decision pertaining to your visa application. It can be granted, refused, or pending administrative
  • Visa Issuance: If accepted, your visa will be attached to your passport.
  • Plan you are Travel: After receiving your visa, plan your trip to the USA bearing in mind the date of entrance specified
  • Port of Entry: Upon arrival into the USA, pass immigration and customs checks at the port of

Based on your personal situations as well as the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply, the precise prerequisites and processes may differ. To learn about the most recent information and guidance, visit the U.S. Department of State’s official website.

What exactly is a US F-1 student visa?

Basically, a non-immigrant visa, an F-1 student visa in the USA permits international students to study in the country at reputed educational establishments, viz., universities, colleges, and language schools. F-1 student visa holders are allowed to pursue a full-time program of study and this type of visa makes it possible for them to work part-time during their course of study, perhaps on campus. By adhering to educational as well as immigration standards, holders of F-1 visas are expected to preserve their status as students. They are frequently allowed a duration of authorised stay in the country that is consistent with their academic program.

Education Consultant

We help you with the entire USA visa process like, filling up applications, preparing financial statements, and also guidance and training for mock interviews and much more.

We are regularly advised by the consulates about the latest visa documentation and rules and have a success rate of over 99%. Visa guidance is free for all Edwise students for all countries.

Also read: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing an Overseas Education

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