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How to Apply For A Student Visa USA

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As a student harboring a dream to study abroad, The United States of America has probably been on the top of your list of priorities. While there are a lot of conditions and terms you should be aware of while making university applications, the one thing that you should be thorough to apply for a student visa for the USA from India.

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The F1 student visa is one of the most important things that can be both a roadblock as well as a ticket to your coveted American education dream. But are you confused with the application process and the different kinds of visas that you can obtain? If the answer to this is a yes, then you have come to the right place.

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How to Apply For A Student Visa USA

In this article, we take you through the types of visa that you can obtain and detailed steps on how to apply for a student visa for USA:

Types of Visa:

   F1 Visa:

This is the most popular kind of student visa for the USA. Any student desirous of pursuing a degree at an accredited college or university in The United States of America will need to apply for this kind of visa. This visa is applicable only for full-time students.

Further, F1 Visa falls under the F Visa category of student visa for the USA wherein you can also look at two other visa options. These are:

F2 visa: Specifically for dependents of F1 visa holders – spouses or unmarried children up to the age of 21. This type of visa also includes same-sex couples.

F3 visa: This is not applicable for a student visa for the USA from India, however, for knowledge purposes only – this visa is for Mexican or Canadian citizens who reside in their country while attending full-time college in the USA. These are also known as ‘border commuters’.

For an Indian student, the F1 visa and F2 visa (in the case of dependents) are most appropriate.

M Visa:

The second kind of student visa for the USA that one can apply for is the M Visa. This visa is essential for students who have secured admissions to vocational or non-academic courses. Any student pursuing a course that is non-academic or is technical should apply for this kind of visa. However, one must know that M visa holders can not pursue any academic education or degree in any universities in The United States of America.

Here again, there are three variants – the M1 Visa for the student pursuing the vocational or technical course, the M2 Visa for dependents like spouses and unmarried children up to the age of 21 and the M3 visa applies only to border commuters.

J Visa

The third and last kind of student visa for the USA from India is for applicants that are participating in international exchange programs or programs that promote cultural exchange. Here, the candidate is required to be sponsored by a private sector or government organization and can be traveling to the USA to obtain any kind of medical or business training for a specified time duration. Similar to the F1 Visa, even the J visa has a J1 type for the primary applicant and J2 for dependents. These are the only two kinds of J visas offered by The United States of America.

Since our focus is to understand the application procedure for a student visa for the USA from India, for this article, we will only be discussing the M1 and F1 visa types and their key requirements.  

Steps to Apply for Student Visa, USA:

Get admission and pay SEVIS fee:

The first and most important condition to apply for a student visa for the USA is to be accepted in a degree program (for F1 visa) are any vocational or training program in the country. Once you have been accepted, you must pay a processing fee to be enrolled in the Student Exchange Visitor Information Systems (SEVIS). Here you will be required to pay a fee known as the SEVIS I-901 Fee post which your university will provide you with a document known as Form 1-20. For non-immigrant students applying for any of the above-mentioned visa types, this is a non-negotiable requirement.

Form 1-20 has to be kept safe and will need to be produced at your visa interview along with other documents.

Application form:

To apply for the F1 student visa, you have to begin by filling an application form. This 

application form for Indian applicants is available here. This form is known as DS -160.

You have to enter basic information like the place from where you intend to make the application and a security code to gain access to the portal. It takes approximately 90 minutes to complete the application form after which you will be guided to the next step – scheduling the interview.

Documentation required:

Student visa for the USA from India requires a list of comprehensive documents, starting with a valid passport and the Form 1-20 provided by the university of study.

The major documents required for the application will be:

  • Valid passport
  • Form DS 160
  • Form DS 160 payment receipt
  • Form 1-20
  • Passport photo

Additionally, though not required, you may be asked to produce these extra documents. Hence it is best to carry them with you at your interview.

  • Transcripts, statement of purpose, certificates from schools you have attended
  • Bank statements, or proof on how you will be funding your education and stay in the United States of America
  •  Proof of intent to depart the USA once the course is over.

Interview:

Once you have submitted your student visa for the USA from India application form, you have to proceed towards scheduling the interview. This interview is in English and is done on a prior appointment only. The date for this interview depends on the average waiting period and the season that you apply in. Thus, make sure you apply for your visa well in time to ensure you receive it before your course starts.

You must note here that this is the most important step in your visa process. The issuance of the visa is solely at the discretion of the interviewing officer. Further, please understand that an interview does not guarantee your student visa in any way.

Questions in this interview are quite generic and based on your current and past achievements and documents. You must be extremely confident while answering these questions and be as honest as possible.

Lastly, once your visa is approved, you may have to pay an additional visa issuance fee to finally confirm your F1 visa.

Processing time:

As mentioned above, the processing time for a student visa for the USA varies on a case to case basis. In some cases, you may receive it in 15 days, whereas sometimes it may even take months. Hence, it is always advisable to apply for the student visa USA as soon as possible.

Ideally, the visa can be issued anywhere up to 120 days in advance before the beginning of your academic course. However, due to US entry restrictions, you can only enter the country 30 days before the start of your course.

Cost:

The cost of a student visa for the USA from India depends on the kind of visa you are looking for. However, some costs remain standard, beginning from the SEVIS I-901 fee.

The SEVIS 1-901 for an F1 student visa is a flat USD 350. After that, you have to pay a fee while submitting the student visa application form. This fee is capped at USD 160.

There is no visa issuance fee applicable for Indian nationals.

Thus, to obtain a valid student visa for the USA from India, you are looking at an approximate cost of USD 510. Please note that this is an estimated amount and may change anytime at the discretion of the United States of America Visa authorities.

Working allowances:

As a part of the US student visa terms, F1 visa holders are permitted to work on –campus for up to 20 hours per week when their university program is in session and full time (up to 40 hours) during vacations and breaks. On-campus employment means working anywhere on campus or at an institution that is affiliated with your campus. This can be a library, bookstore, cafeteria or any other facility.

Off-campus employment for F1 visa holders is generally not permitted. However, if you are facing some kind of economic hardship as per the Department of Homeland Security’s emergent circumstances, you may be allowed to pursue full-time off-campus employment. In any situation, this is possible only after you have completed at least one full year of academic tuition.

Duration of visa

For Indian nationals, the F1 visa that you obtain for your course in the United States of America is valid for five years from the date of issuance. However, even though the visa is valid for five years, your stay in the country is solely dependent on your status as a student. Once you lose your status as a student, the visa expires, and you will be asked to return to India unless you apply for an extension. Further, F1 visa holders are eligible to stay in the USA for 12 months post completion of their stay under the optional practical training scheme.

Financial Requirements and Education Loan:

To successfully obtain an F1 student visa, your application must be supported by strong documentation that proves that you have the requisite financial backing to fund your education and life in the USA. To prove this, you may require documentation like the following:

  • Income tax returns for the last 3 years.
  • Payment/ salary slips.

If you intend to fund your US degree through an education loan or you have received a scholarship of any kind then you might also need to carry appropriate documentation and sanction letters regarding the loan to prove your financial credibility.

Centre for Application:

While the application form for a student visa for the USA is wholly online, in India, for biometrics and interview, you may have to visit the centres mentioned below:

             Delhi –

S – 1 American Plaza, (Hotel Eros Managed by Hilton), International Trade Tower

Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110019

                Mumbai –

Trade Center, Ground Floor, G Block,

Bandra Kurla Complex,

Bandra East, Mumbai – 400051

            Chennai –

No 3, Cenotaph Road,

Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu – 600018

              Hyderabad –

1-8-384/385, Gowra Grand, S.P.Road,

Begumpet, Secunderabad – 500003

                Kolkata –

Jasmine Tower, 31, Shakespeare Sarani (1st Floor)

Kolkata – 700017

Naturally, suppose you are living in cities apart from the ones mentioned above. In that case, you may have to travel to your nearest center to appear for your interview, biometrics and the procedures that follow.

Other key pointers that you should keep in mind before submitting your application:

While the steps above are sacrosanct when applying for your student visa for the USA, it is best to keep in mind the terms below to ensure your application is foolproof.

– Carry all your documentation with you to the interview. It is okay for you to carry more papers than not have something that you are asked for.

– Lastly, speak confidently and articulate well. The interview is conducted in English, hence make sure your language is error-free and clear.

So, this is how you can apply for a student visa in USA.

The Leap Finance Advantage

An F1 student visa is one of the most coveted things for an aspiring USA bound student. Though the hype attached to it may make it sound like a herculean task, it actually needn’t be. By simply following the steps above, in no time will you be able to obtain your very own F1 Visa and take that flight to your dreams. Further, for any other hurdles or financial constraints – one can always count on Leap Finance to have their back. 

Leap Finance is one of India’s premier education loan companies with over 231+ affiliated universities in the world. The unique selling point of Leap Finance is its quick online approval process with zero collateral and a paltry 8-10% interest rate. To support your US dreams further, the company also has a seamless bank account system with quick sanctions and no hidden costs, thus making this the perfect pair of wings to help you fly to your American dream degree. 

If you are planning to study abroad, then this might help you- How to Get a Study Abroad Scholarship?

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Kanika Singh

Kanika took a detour from academics for the corporate world. Now she works as a senior editor specialising in content creation, marketing, and strategy.

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