Your Visa Process: Simplified

You’ve decided to go to school in the United States.

You’ve been accepted into your school of choice and are enrolled.

Nothing else is needed, right?

RIGHT!?!?

Well, not really.  The most important steps in this process actually stand in front of you, otherwise known as the “not-so-interesting” application for a student visa.  While this process makes the typical student yawn (and let’s be honest, we can’t blame you) it is a crucial part of going to school in the United States.  Specifically, it’ll help US officials know th at you’re here for an education, and not to travel or just have fun (although these are typically nice benefits).

Next, you have to make an appointment for a visa interview at your local US embassy office.  You can check for your closest office here: http://www.usembassy.gov/The first part of the visa application process is receiving an I-20 from your school, which is the legal acceptance document and verification that you have been accepted and enrolled at an approved US institution.  It’s EXTREMELY important that you check that your entire name and date of birth appears as it does on your passport.

Be sure that you make an appointment far in advance of when you’ll need to be in the United States, as appointments and visa processing times can vary.  Here’s another useful website that explains wait times for visas: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html

It’s important to clarify that there’s a few different types of visas that may be applicable to your program or what you’re looking to do while in the United States.  Namely, there are two nonimmigrant visa categories for individuals looking to study in the United States. The F visa is for academic studies, and the M visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies.

Now for a few more steps/tips:

  • You’ll need to pay $140.00 to apply for your visa, but be sure to check (http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#5) as you may be subject to pay for your visa issuance or other fees. Also, make sure you always receive a receipt after paying any fees, as you’ll likely need it later on in the application process.
  •  In your interview, dress nicely and state specifically why you want to study in the US.  You’ll need a better answer than simply saying “Well, I’ve always wanted to…
  •  Bring financial evidence proving you can cover your tuition, any fee receipts, transcripts and standardized tests that were required in your school application process.

Lastly, remember to always be in communication with your college or university, and talk to other students in your home country that have studied in the U.S.  It’s always a great idea to double check each step in the process, as it’ll bring you that much closer to being a student in the US.

Current students, how was your visa process?  What troubles did you encounter?

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