What do I Need to Register for my Visa?
If you’ve reached this stage, congratulations are likely in order! You’ve now likely been accepted and have committed to your university. The next major challenge left to overcome is getting your F1 or J1 U.S. student visa. While this may appear a daunting process we are here to help guide you through the U.S. student visa interview process.
The first step in your student visa process for both F1 and J1 visas is filling in the DS-160 form, but remember that you can only begin this after having received your I-20 form in the mail from your university. This form will have all the details regarding your admission into your MS program at the university, including the duration as well as the earliest date you can enter the US for it.
The DS-160 isn’t terribly complicated, but special care should be taken in filling it out.This should go without saying, but it is crucial that you ensure that the information you fill in is entirely accurate. Recheck everything multiple times for incomplete information and typos as you do not want to give the US visa officer even the slightest reason to deny your student visa application.
The DS-160 form can be found on this link. After you have completed it, make sure to email the confirmation page to yourself for safe-keeping, and also print two copies of it. You will be required to carry a physical copy of this confirmation with you to the biometrics center prior to your interview.
Once you fill out the DS-160 form, you will then have to pay the visa application fee, which includes the service charge for the biometrics center and the additional bank charges, which comes out to approximately $160-$180. It is important to note, however, that this fee can only be paid at banks that are partnered with the US consulate. In India, these banks are Axis Bank and Citi Bank, and you can pay the non-refundable fees either with cash or check. Keep in mind that these payments are non-refundable.
It is also important to keep the 10-digit confirmation code you will receive with the receipt from your bank payment. Without it, you will not be able to schedule a student visa interview at the US consulate.
A $200 payment to SEVIS will also need to be made and you will need to bring that receipt and your I-20 to the US consulate for your visa interview. If you do not have the receipt, the visa officers may not allow you to enter the consulate. It does not matter whether you have paid the fees or not, the consulate will not have a record of it, and they can deny your entry if you do not have a physical receipt.
You will then need to go online and set the date and time for your student visa interview appointment at this link. You will have to create an account, which will require a code from your DS-160 as well as the SEVIS fee receipt. Choose a date and time that works best for you. The consulate is typically very busy, and it is common for the process to take up to an hour or two.
After you have scheduled your interview, you will also have to schedule an appointment at the biometric center, which is at a different location from the US consulate. You should schedule this for at least one or two days before your interview. To do this, you will need your passport, the date you paid your fees, and your DS-160 confirmation.
At the biometrics center, you will be required to bring a valid passport (it is often a good practice to renew your passport in advance such that you do not need to renew it while you are studying in the US), a physical copy of you DS-160 confirmation, as well as a physical copy of your appointment confirmation, without which you will not be allowed to enter.
Inside the center, you will take a photograph (which will be used for your visa) and give your fingerprints. You may also be asked some questions, but there will not be anything additional to prepare for.