In order to study in the United States as an international student, you will need to acquire a student visa.
- The F-1 student visa is the most common visa for international students studying in the United States.
- The process to acquiring an F-1 visa requires a few steps, and some of them can be confusing to students unfamiliar with the process.
- Below, we will give an overview of the process and what each step entails.
Step 1: Get Accepted at an Approved School
- The first step to obtaining an F-1 visa is to first get accepted at a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, or SEVIS.
- Before you can even apply for a visa in order to study abroad in the United States, you must apply and be accepted at a SEVIS approved school.
- This page will help you find SEVIS schools, or find out if the school you have already applied to is SEVIS approved.
- Once you have been accepted into the approved school, you will automatically be enrolled in SEVIS. You then have to pay the 1-901 fee which is $200.
- Then, the United States school that you wish to attend will give you an I-20 form, which you then need to bring to your visa interview.
Step 2: Schedule an Interview
- If you are between the ages of fourteen and seventy-nine, then you must schedule an interview in order to receive a visa.
- You must schedule your interview at the United States Embassy or Consulate that is in your country of residence.
- For example, if you live in India and wish to study in the United States, you visit the United States embassy or consulate in India.
- It is important to remember to check how long it will take to complete your interview since the traffic at the offices varies by season and location.
- Applying for an F-1 visa as early as possible is highly recommended.
Step 3: Interview Preparation
Depending on nationality, some visa applicants are required to pay an issuance fee with their applications. This is extremely important to check. Some nationalities, on the other hand, are not. For example, Indian students applying for an F-1 visa do not need to pay an issuance fee. A good place to check for this information is the website of the embassy or consulate where you will be applying and interviewing. You will also need a number of other documents, including:
- A passport valid for United States travel valid for a period of at least six months beyond your scheduled period of stay in the United States,
- The confirmation page of your DS-160 form,
- The receipt from your application payment if applicable to your nationality,
- A photo of yourself if you did not upload one to your DS-160 form,
- Your certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status for academic and language students of 1-20 Form.
Step 4: The Interview
- The interview may be the most crucial step.
- This is where an officer at the embassy or consulate will determine whether or not you can receive a visa and which category of visa suits your needs and purpose.
- You need to prove and establish that you meet the United States requirements to receive the visa that you are applying for.
- As part of most interviews, your fingerprint will be scanned for security and identification purposes.
- Once your visa has been approved, it needs time to process, which varies by location so make sure to check with your officer about the time period.
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