Student Visa USA
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Updated date : 14 January 2020
The United States of America has witnessed a significant rise with every passing year students travelling and continuing their academic journey. The USA surely has helped the aspiring students to broaden their experience and shaping their future.
It is noteworthy, that in today’s times, the USA has become the preferred choice of students to pursue academics or higher studies and offering programmes encompassing versatility in all fields. Besides, the USA has set a benchmark in providing excellent research and educational opportunities.
The education system in the USA does have something for everyone. US degrees are recognized across the globe for their excellence.
A non-American citizen who wishes to enter the United States must hold a USA visa, which could be based either on temporary stay a non-immigrant visa or for a permanent stay an immigrant visa.
Any foreign citizen who wishes to pursue any academic course must hold a student visa for the USA. Besides, it largely depends on the type of course study and the type of school, which helps in determining whether one, would require an F visa or an M visa.
In any case, anyone willing to study in the USA needs to apply and obtain a student visa for the USA. Having a student visa for the USA will let one stay and study in the country throughout the tenure of the course.
Types of Student Visa USA
Let us have a look below and understand and the different types of student visa for the USA:
F Student Visa: The F visa is a type of non-immigrant student visa, which permits foreign students to pursue academic studies or any language training programs in the United States of America. Now, the F visa is of two types, w
- F-1 Student Visa: This visa is for students enrolled in any full-time courses. The F visa is issued in US embassies and consulates, which are outside the boundaries of the USA. If required, an extension of stay is possible within the USA. Anyone applying under this visa category must note that they need to apply and receive a form of I-20 and have to provide evidence to substantiate that they can take care of the expenses, which will incur during their stay and study.
- F-2 Student Visa: This visa is for the dependents of the holder of the F-1 visa, which includes a spouse or minor child. The holders of the F-2 visa must note that they are not eligible for any compensated employment although, the minor children (if any) are permitted to attend public schools.
M Student Visa: This visa is for students enrolled in any vocational courses or for any other recognized non-academic institution apart in a language-training program. The M visa is of generally two types:
- M-1 Student Visa: This visa is for those students who intend to take admission into any technical or vocational course. If applying for a visa under this category, it is to be noted that one is not allowed to work during the study and need to provide sufficient proof to substantiate that the expenses incurred towards tuition and living shall be met for the intended period of stay.
- M-2 Student Visa: This visa is for the dependents, which includes a spouse or minor child of the holder of an M1 visa.
In the below grid, find the purpose of study in the USA basis, which one can apply for the types of student visa for the USA:
|Entering the USA for||Student Visa USA Category|
|University or college||F Visa|
|Private Elementary school|
|Training colleges of priests/rabbis|
|An academic institution, inclusive a language training program|
|Vocational or any other recognized nonacademic institution, apart from a language training program||M Visa|
Also, know everything about student visa for top international study destinations:
Points to be Considered Before Applying for Student Visa USA
Before one applies for a student visa for the USA, take a look below of the following pointers that one needs to be aware of and know:
- No Travelling for Students on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas: If a non-America citizen intends to study in the USA after entering into the States through a visitor (B) visa or visa waiver program, then under such scenario it is not permitted. Although, one may take on the recreational study (non-credit), which is a part of the tourist visit. Therefore, if one intends to study in the USA, a student visa depending on the purpose is required.
- Visitor Visa (B) for Short Recreational Study: Any course providing with US certified degree or certificate is never allowed upon a visitor visa (B), regardless of whether a short-term or a long-term course. However, if one is in the United States on a visitor visa (B) then that person may enrol for a short recreational course only if the course study does not credit towards any degree or academic certificate. Besides, if one is enrolled in any distance-learning programme and need to be present for a specified time in the institution’s USA campus then student visa for the USA must be obtained before entering the United States.
- SEVP Approved School: If one wishes to study in the USA, then on must apply at a SEVP approved school. Once the SEVP approved school accepts the application of enrolment then only one will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Besides, the candidate needs to pay SEVIS 1-901 fees. Post the payment of the fees, one will receive the Form I-20 issued by the approved school. Once receiving the Form I-20 and completing the registration formalities, the next step should be to apply at a US Embassy or Consulate to obtain a student visa for the USA.
Note: Do not forget to carry the Form I-20 form at the time of attending the visa interview. Moreover, if the student/ children intend to live with the holder of the student visa until the time the study course is completed, then they also need to be enrolled in SEVIS and likewise have the individual Form I-20 from the approved SEVP-approved school and then apply for the visa without paying the SEVIS fee.
Applying for Student Visa USA Online
To apply for a student visa for the USA online, look below and understand the process of completing the online visa application form:
Fill the Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160:
This form is for those who are travelling to the USA for a temporary purpose. Be careful and provide correct information while filling the form as this form is directly yielded electronically to the Department of State website through the internet.
The information needs to be correct, as the consular officers will scrutinize, the application for the visa including the personal interview will use the information mentioned on the form.
Once, done completing the DS-160 form, do not forget to take the print of the DS-160 barcode page. Besides, take the print of the entire application and do not forget to carry it at the time of interview.
Requirements of the Photo:
While completing the online Form DS-160, the photo needs to be in a certain format while applying for a student visa for the USA. It is advisable to use a professional photo for visa meeting the following requirements:
- The photos or digital images must be in colour.
- The photo must be taken within the last 06 months reflecting one’s present appearance.
- The photo must be taken either in front of a white or off-white background.
- It must be taken in full-face view that is directly facing the camera
- The photo must be sized in such a way that the placement of the head is 50% and 69% of the total height of the image considering from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
- There face expression need to be neutral and both the eyes opened.
- No uniform should be worn in the photo apart from any religious clothing that is worn regularly.
- The face must be visible so avoid wearing any hat or head cover unless if worn for a religious purpose.
- No devices, such as headphones etc. are visible in the photo.
- No eyeglasses are allowed in the photo apart from the eyeglasses are important for medical reason s and cannot be taken off. However, it needs to approve by the medical practitioner and under the following conditions:
- Frames of the spectacles worn must not cover the eyes.
- No glare on the spectacles, which obscure the eyes.
- No refraction/shadow from the spectacles, which obscure the eyes.
Schedule an Interview for Student Visa USA:
There are specific exceptions listed below in context to facing an interview for visa applicants. However, the consular officers may feel the need for an interview for any student visa for the USA applicant.
|13 years of age and Below||Generally not required|
|14-79||Required (exceptions for renewals)|
|80 years of age and Above||Generally not required|
Try to schedule the visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you reside. Although one can schedule the interview at another US embassy or Consulate then it becomes slightly difficult to qualify the visa interview if conducted outside the country where an applicant resides.
It is always advisable to apply for a visa as early as possible as might take time to process depending on various factors such as location, season and visa category. It is better to review the wait time for the location where one will apply.
For instance, if an Indian student applies student visa for the USA and the US Embassy or Consulate is in New Delhi then appointment waiting time would be 29 calendar days.
In case, if one is a new student, the student visa for the USA might take up to 120 days in advance of the initiating date for a course study to get issued. However, one is not allowed to enter upon the student visa for the USA for more than 30 days before the initiating date.
Moreover, in cases wherein one is an existing student and presently enrolled at a SEVP approved school/institution and in SEVIS, they can enter the States at any time before the commencement of the classes within a student visa for the USA.
Prepare for Student Visa USA Interview:
Remember, the fees paid towards visa application fee are non-refundable. It is possible to pay the fees before the commencement of the interview. In case, if the student visa for the USA is approved, one might have to pay the visa issuance fee applicable to the nationality one belongs.
Documents Required for Student Visa USA
Gather the following document before heading for the student visa USA interview:
- A current passport, which must be valid for 06 months beyond the intended period of stay in the US.
- Confirmation page of Non-immigrant visa application, Form DS-160.
- Receipt of the visa application fees if paid before the interview.
- A passport-sized photograph in the above-mentioned required format.
- Certificates for eligibility for either an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa undertaking different specified courses along with the Form I-20.
Note: In case of any spouse or minor travelling with the holder of student visa for the USA with the intent of living in the States will get an Individual Form I-20 each.
Additional Documents Required for Student Visa USA
There may be chances that the consular officer might ask for the following additional documents as evidence to have better clarity of the visa applicant as follows:
- Academic records, which may include degrees, certificates, and transcripts from the school/colleges, last attended.
- The standardized test scores required by US school.
- Provide evidence to substantiate the expenses, which will incur during the stay in the USA.
- Post the completion of the study course, intent to leave the United States of America.
While Attending Interview for Student Visa USA
The consular officer will determine if one is eligible to obtain a student visa for the USA and will conduct the interview. Therefore, the visa applicant needs to meet the requirements under the US law to obtain a student visa for the USA.
As part of the application process, digital fingerprint and ink-free scans are taken at the time of the interview. However, this may vary on the premise of the location as well.
If the counsellor officer feels that further administrative processing is required, the visa applicant will be informed about the equivalent.
Once the student visa for the USA is approved, the visa applicant needs to pay the visa issuance fees depending upon the nationality and accordingly arrangements regarding the passport and visa will be made.
Student Visa USA Fees
In the below grid, find the fees that one may bear for obtaining a student visa for the USA depending upon the intent of travel:
|Types of Student Visa USA||Intent of Travel||US Visa Fees|
Note: The SEVIS Fee: $350
Making an Entry into the USA
Having a student visa for the USA does not guarantee one’s entry into the USA. It essentially permits a foreign citizen simply to enter the US port and requests permission to enter the United States.
There are officials at the port of entry who have full authority to deny and permit one’s entry to the USA.
One needs to show the current passport, visa and Form I-20 at the port of entry and thereafter a CBP official will make the decision. If the CBP official permits to enter the USA, the official will give an admission stamp or paper I-94.
Extension of Stay in the USA
Any foreign citizen holding an F visa and has completed the course study need to depart from the USA within 60 days as listed on Form I-20, which also includes authorized practical training.
If an extension is required, it can be requested through US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. In case, if one fails to depart from the USA will put the one in being out of status, then under the US laws, the visa automatically is voided. Besides, multiple entry visa voided in the situation of being out of status will not be considered valid for any further entries in the United States of America.
Note: If one is not able to depart from the USA on time, one may become ineligible to obtain a visa in the coming times.
If Change in the Status During the Stay in the USA
In case, if the plans change while staying in the USA, for instance, if one marries a US citizen or receive a letter of employment in the country then one can request a change in the non-immigrant status to any other category through US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Note: If one is still in the USA, then there is no need for applying for a new visa when one has received a change of status from USCIS. However, once one departs from the USA, then one needs to apply in a suitable category for the next time one plans to travel.
Do Not Miss on the Following
- One should not make any travel plans until one is issued with a student visa for the USA. Once you hold the visa then only go further with booking tickets.
- In case, if one feels to work in the US during the period of the study-course, refer to the Students and Employment and Form I-765 Work Authorization Instructions by visiting the website of USIC.
- In case, if one is on a temporary break during the study course and outside the boundaries of the USA, get in touch with the designated school officials one is enrolled with regarding any visa clarifications.
- Having a valid student visa in an expired passport is valid until it either has been revoked or cancelled. A visa is valid until the date of its expiry. Just do not remove the visa from the expired passport. The valid visa in the expired passport can be used in the new passport for travel or admission in the USA.
- For Spouse and Children:
- In case, if the spouse and unmarried, minor children plan to live with the holder of the student visa for the USA, during the period of the study course then they need to apply for an F-2 visa or an M-2 visa. Remember, the SEVIS fee payment will not be charged for them; however, the school one is enrolled with having to issue an individual Form I-20, which will be required at the time of applying for the respective visas. Besides, do not forget to provide a copy of the F-1 or M-1 visa and evidence to substantiate the relationship.
- The minor children of the visa holder are allowed to attend school in the USA.
- In the case of same-sex marriage, the process for visa applications will remain the same by US Embassies and Consulates as in the case of opposite gender spouses.
Travel Insurance for the USA
It takes efforts to obtain a student visa for the USA. From compiling the documents to the submission of the documents, facing the visa interview and then obtaining the student visa for the USA is not a cakewalk.
Envision a scenario, while in the USA if somebody meets with an accident or losses the passport this will surely disturb and spoil the travel plans. Besides, expenses incurred towards such problems might even create a hole in the pockets. We all know that medical treatment in the USA is expensive and can be a burden on the shoulder of the students.
Therefore, to avoid such situations one needs to buy correct travel insurance for the USA and secure themselves against uncertainties. For most of the people, still believe that buying travel insurance for the USA is an unnecessary expense.
Having travel insurance for the USA wills secure the student against any perils which the student might encounter on foreign lands, such as emergency cash advance, personal liability, loss of checked-in baggage, medical emergency. It is better to buy a student travel insurance policy, which will take care of the needs and requirements so that one comes back with the baggage of memories and no worries.
Buy travel insurance before flying for the USA and have a memorable stay.
Also, get all the details on other types of US visa for Indians:
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