What is the Process to Get a Student Visa for USA?

The US boasts some of the world’s best universities, which attract a large number of students every year. In the academic year 2016-17, the majority of international students enrolled in the United States were from China (350,755) and India (186,267), according to Statista.

America doesn’t have a centralized university system. Interested candidates therefore need to apply separately to the various institutions, while fulfilling the eligibility criteria for admissions individually. Once they are granted admission, the next step is to plan the journey to the US, the first step for which is getting a student visa.

Here are five steps prospective students need to follow get a student visa for the US.

Step #1: Apply and get accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) -approved school

Before you apply for admission into any institution or program, you need to ensure that the it has been accredited by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) or is SEVP approved. This will ensure that the degree you get at the end of the course is recognized the world over. Applying to an SEVP-approved institute becomes even more important because this is the only way you can enroll in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The documents you’ll need to apply for a US student visa will be provided under this system.

After you have been accepted by an educational institution, you’ll be enrolled in the SEVIS system by the university. Later, a SEVIS-generated document, called Form I-20, will be sent to you, if you qualify for an F or M category visa, or a Form DS-2019, in case of a J category visa.

Step #2: Pay the SEVIS fee

Before submitting the application for a US visa, you will need to pay the SEVIS fee. Access an online or paper form the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SEVP website. Fill in the details and pay the fee. Be sure to fill accurate and complete details in the form, since they’ll appear on your Form I-20 or Form DS-2019.

You must pay the I-901 SEVIS fee at least three days prior to submitting the application for a US visa. In order to pay the fee, you’ll need to file either an online form or submit a paper form. Both can be accessed through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SEVP website. Take care to input the required details exactly as they appear on your I-20 or DS-2019 form.

Visit this link to pay the I-901 fee and check the I-901 status.

Step #3: Fill the US student visa application form

The next step is the US student visa application form. Complete the online visa application form DS-160, providing your personal details, such as name and date of birth, address, phone number, passport details, travel details, details of family work and education. Upload a recent photograph of yourself, along with the visa application.

Step #4: Pay the visa application fee

Also known as the Machine Readable Visa Fee or MRV fee, you need to pay a non-refundable, non-transferable visa application fee either in person or online. Don’t forget to obtain the fee receipt. You’ll need to present it at the visa interview.

Step #5: Schedule and attend a visa interview

The last step towards the application for a US student visa is to schedule an appointment with the US consulate or embassy in your country at the earliest to account for any delays that might occur during visa processing.

It is mandatory for the applicant to appear for the visa interview to complete the visa application process.

Got questions? Please ask in comments.

About the author

Mani Karthik

Having lived in the USA, India & Middle East for over a decade, and having worked for big MNC's to startups, I have a lot to share with you. My aim is to help people, by sharing everything I've learned in life through this blog. Come join my pursuit of happiness! WhatsApp me at +001-408-489-4785

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Having lived in USA, India and UAE, worked for companies big and small, I share everything that I’ve learnt in life, on this blog. From spirituality to personal finance and everything in between. Come join me in my pursuit to happiness! > Here’s my journey so far!


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