US Student Visa Application Process

To follow your dream of studying in the United States, you need not just admission into a good college, but also a student visa. Are you worried about the visa application process? Here’s a detailed guideline for applying for a US student visa.

Types of Student Visas

There are three types of US student visas that you can apply for:

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F1 Student Visa

If you are applying for an educational program that will take more than 18 hours of study per week, you need to apply for an F1 visa. This visa is meant for people wanting to pursue graduate and undergraduate programs in America.

J1 Student Visa

The J1 student visa is issued to scholars or interns who are planning to visit the US for short term courses or attending lectures through a student exchange program.

M1 Student Visa

Students who wish to pursue vocational or technical courses in the US need to apply for an M1 student visa. These are non-academic courses that are more career-focused.

What is the US Student Visa Application Process like?

Here are the basic steps to completing the US student visa application process:

Apply for admission

The first thing is to apply to your desired university/college for admission. Make sure that the institution is approved by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). If you are looking to attend courses through an exchange program, you need to apply from your home institution.

You will receive Form I-20

Once you get admission, the US institution will send you either Form I-20 or Form DS-2019. F1 and M1 student visa applicants will receive Form I20 from their university, while J1 visa applicants will obtain Form DS-2019. Your form will have your school’s address, your SEVIS ID and information about the course that you have enrolled for. You will need this form for the student visa interview at a later stage.

Pay the I-901 SELVIS fee

Once you have received your form from the university, you need to pay the SELVIS fee, according to your visa type. F1 and M1 visa applicants need to pay $200, while the SELVIS fee for the J1 visa is $180. If you are attending a short-term course through the J1 exchange visa, you will just have to pay $35. You will receive a fee confirmation receipt once you have submitted the appropriate fee. This receipt will also be required at the student visa interview. So, keep it safe.

Fill Form DS-160

The next step involves filling in and submitting the non-immigrant visa application or Form DS-160. You will need your passport and Form I-20 or DS-2019 details to fill in this form. You will receive a confirmation once you submit the DS-160 form.

Pay the visa fee

Now, you need to pay the visa fee, which is $160. You can pay it using your credit or debit card. Print the fee receipt, since it will be required later.

Schedule your visa interview

Now, you are ready to schedule appointments at the Visa Application Centre and the US Embassy. The former is meant for recording your biometrics. You will also need to submit a passport-size photograph and other important documents at the Visa Application Centre. The appointment at the embassy or consulate is for the student visa interview. You can check further details regarding the interview here.

As long as you have filled all forms correctly, paid the fees and answered the interview questions confidently and honestly, there should be no reason why the visa will be denied.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.