How to Apply Visa USA

Types of Student Visa

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa.

US Visa

This type of US student visa is for international students who are intending to pursue an academic degree at an accredited US college or university, or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute. There are three types of F visa:

  • F-1 visas for full-time students.
  • F-2 visas for dependents of F-1 visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21). This includes same-sex married couples.
  • F-3 visas for ‘border commuters’ – Mexican and Canadian students who reside in their country of origin while attending part- or full-time school in the US.

Students with F-1 visas can work on-campus for 20 hours a week or less. Students wishing to work longer hours and off-campus must gain prior authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – they may also grant work authorization for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for a total of twelve months, without accruing more than 90 days of unemployment.

Student Acceptance at a SEVP Approved School

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of State EducationUSA website to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, admissions, and more. You can also visit the DHS Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.

When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

Financial Requirements

You must have adequate, demonstrable financial support to live and study in the United States. Visa applications are generally stronger if the financial support comes from family, employers, or other institutional sponsors located in the home country.

US Expenses
  • *All fees are estimated in U.S. dollars and are subject to change.
  • **Includes estimated on-campus room, board, transportation and personal expenses for 9 months.
  • ***For dependents, add an additional $7,000 per year for a spouse dependent and $4,500 per year for each child dependent.

Required Financial Documents Need to Receive i-20

Your financial support can come from any combination of the following sources (please see “Acceptable Documents” section, below ) in the U.S. or abroad. It is highly recommended that some or all funding come from your home country and immediate family support is preferable to friends or distant relatives.
All documents submitted must meet the following requirements:

  • Dated no more than four months prior to the submission of this form
  • In English
  • Original financial documents: Documents will not be returned. Please note: you may need to take them to your visa appointment at the American Embassy or Consulate Office so please make arrangements for duplicate copies.

Acceptable Proof of Financial Documents.

If you are paying all expenses with personal funds (“self-sponsoring”) you must submit:
  • A personal bank statement(s) for last six (6) months showing regular deposits and it must show enough cash to support yourself for your entire program of study
  • 2-3 years for graduate students, depending on credits in program; 4 years for undergraduate students; add one year if conditionally admitted
If you have a family member or other individual sponsor you, you must submit the following:
  • Each sponsor’s bank statement showing one full year of expenses dated no more than four months prior to the submission of this form
  • Each sponsor must sign the Affidavit of Support (page 6): use additional pages if necessary
  • It is recommended to submit our signed form. Notarized statement(s) are not preferred.
If you have an Organizational or Governmental Sponsorship, you must submit all the following:
  • Copy of the Award Letter from the organization on official letterhead. The letter must specify the amount of money that is being provided to you and that the award is valid for each year of study
  • For non-governmental awards, you must also provide a bank statement or bank letter validating that all funds detailed in the Award Letter are available for disbursement to the University
If you received Scholarships and/or grants from University, you must submit the following:
  • Copy of Award Letter(s)
  • If you received one with your letter of acceptance, it must be signed and returned.

Visa Application Procedure

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age.

You must schedule an appointment for your visa interview, generally, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

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Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee $160 , if you are required to pay it before your interview. When your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.
  • Review the instructions available on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  1. Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  2. Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  3. Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  4. Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  5. Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20A-B or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20M-N – Your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20. All students, their spouse and minor children if they intend to reside in the United States with the student, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Each person receives an individual Form I-20.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish that you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • Your academic preparation, such as:
    • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
    • Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
  • Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
  • How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.

Attend Your Visa Interview

  • During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
  • Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
  • After your visa interview, your application may require further administrative processing. You will be informed by the consular officer if further processing is necessary for your application.
  • When the visa is approved, you may pay a visa issuance fee if applicable to your nationality, and will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up or delivery by the courier.

Bringing your Dependants

International students are allowed to bring dependants by obtaining a F-2 Visa. Following mandatory documents are required.

  • One Photograph
  • Confirmation page of online submitted Form DS-160 with CEAC bar code.
  • Visa Fees to be paid in advance before taking an appointment.
  • Original interview appointment letter and one copy.
  • Both pages of the bar coded, original SEVIS generated Form I-20
  • All students, as well as their spouse and dependant children must be registered in SEVIS.
  • Copy of Form I-20
  • Original proof of payment of SEVIS Fee Receipt I-901 and one copy, if applicable

Supporting Documents

  • Photocopies of the first page, address page and last page of your current passport.
  • A copy of the Form I-20 of the principal applicant.
  • Photocopy of the Principal Applicant’s valid visa (if applying separately).
  • Original marriage certificate for spouse along with entire wedding photo album.
  • Additionally, it would be helpful to provide genuine marriage proof.
  • Wedding invitation card.
  • Original birth certificate for each child.
  • Photocopies of the first page, last page and remarks pages of your current passport.
  • Additional financial resources to support the dependants during the primary applicant’s entire course of study.
  • If applying separately, a good quality photocopy of the original of the primary applicant’s passport all pages. The copy should be of good quality and the photo must be clearly identifiable.

Appointment Times

Applicants should apply at the consular section of the American Embassy any working day, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 and 10:00 AM.

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