Wholistic Education Foundation
Here are some guidelines to help make your student visa application process smooth and successful.
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. Last year, 534,298 F-1 student visas were issued!
After a college, university, or English language school has accepted you for admission to full-time study, the school will send you a document called an I-20 form, which is the application for an F-1 visa.
If you will be an Exchange Visitor, the organization or U.S. Government agency that is sponsoring you will send you a DS-2019 form, which is the application for a J-1 visa.
First, your school or university will send you a form confirming that you have been accepted at an institution authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) to enroll non-immigrant students (the I-20 for an F-1 visa or the DS-2019 for a J-1 visa. You will read and sign this form.)
Be careful to make sure that the name and spelling on your passport is exactly the same as the name and spelling on your application for acceptance to the school and that the school has entered your name as it appears on your passport on the I-20 or DS-2019 Form.
All applicants’ names have to be submitted for a security clearance. Citizens of some countries and students who will study certain subjects at a university have to undergo additional screenings that takes several additional weeks of processing. Again, it is crucial that you allocate plenty of time for the visa application process.
Second, you will need to make an appointment for a visa interview and to pay some required fees. Under a revision in the regulations, Student Visas can be issued up to 120 days before the date on your form I-20. Exchange Visitor Visas can be issued anytime before the date on the DS-2019. You should apply as early as possible for your visa.
Each U.S. Embassy has a website providing instructions on how to make an appointment for a visa interview and other information on the visa application process. The website for the Embassy in your country can be located at: http://www.usembassy.gov/
The website can also tell you the expected wait time for a visa in your country. International student visa applicants should receive priority by the Embassy or Consulate so if your program of study will begin soon, be sure to explain this when applying for your visa.
You may wish to visit or contact the nearest U.S. Department of State-affiliated EducationUSA advising center office in your country. They are located throughout the world and listed at educationusa.info/centers.php The staff at these centers will be able to explain where to pay the visa fees and how to schedule your interview.
There is a US$200 fee, which supports the cost of the computer system used to record your stay in the United States (SEVIS). You can pay this fee with a credit card that is valid internationally. Go to https://www.fmjfee.com/index.jhtml to pay the fee and make sure you print a copy of your receipt. You must pay the SEVIS fee at least three days before the date of your visa interview. Bring a copy of your receipt to your visa interview
You will also need to pay an additional US$160 for the visa application fee in your country at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate or at a bank that the Embassy designates. Specific information on where to pay the visa application fee can be found at the web site of the U.S. Embassy in your country.