Visa Application

How To Apply For U.S Study Visa!!!

INTRODUCTION

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to study. Before applying for a visa, all student visa applicants are required to be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a student visa.

If you are among the few who aspire and have gotten the admission into your aspired university, applying for Student Visa is the next important step to realizing your Study in USA dream. This Students Visa Guide examines briefly the various types of visa and attempts to give a detailed process of applying for the F1 Student Visa – applicable to students planning to take up their bachelor ’s as well as master’s in USA.

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U.S TYPE OF STUDENT VISA

There are three types of student visas to the US:

1. F1 Student Visa

  • Students applying for a program which requires more than 18 hours of study in a week require an F1 visa. This includes all undergraduate programs as well as graduate programs like MS, MBA, etc.
  • Spouses or children accompanying F-1 visa recipients will travel on an F-2 visa. Please note that spouses are not able to work but may accompany and/or apply for their own visa to the U.S. to work or study

2. J1 Exchange Visitor Visa

  • The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for students, visiting scholars or lecturers pursuing an exchange program. For example, Fulbright scholars and many students on short-term study abroad programs from Indian universities will travel to the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
  • J1 visa is usually sought by working professional who goes to America on an exchange program, hence the name Exchange Visitor Visa. These may include a 10-month vocational training or some research fellowship, etc. Whichever be the case, the applicants would be notified for the same by the respective institutions. 
  • Spouses or children accompanying J-1 Visa recipients will travel on a J-2 Visa. Please note that spouses are able to work when permission is obtained in advance.

3. M-1 Vocational/ Non-Academic Student Visa

  • The M1 visa is a type of student visa reserved for vocational and technical schools. While the process remains similar to an F1 visa, the difference is that on entering, the M1 visas are time stamped and students cannot overstay their visit.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

  • Barcoded confirmation page for the DS-160 online non-immigrant visa application form for all applicants. The confirmation page can be obtained only after the applicant completes and submits the DS-160 online where all questions should be answered and a digital signature made before submission. The DS-160 and complete instructions can be found on the Consular Electronic Application Centre
  • Barcoded confirmation page for Endorsed valid I-20 for students
  • Certificate of Eligibility for non-immigrant (F-1) student status for academic and language students
  • DS-2019 for exchange visitors
  • International passport valid for at least six months
  • One colour passport photograph (5cm x 5cm) with full face forward against a white background taken within the last six months. Hair must not cover the ears and no photos with dark glasses or non-religious, tribal or chieftaincy head coverings are allowed
  • The GT Bank receipt for the $160 visa application fee
  • CGI appointment service charge receipt
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Any supporting documents to establish the applicant’s strong economic, social and other ties to Nigeria, additional documents may be requested during the interview
  • Financial evidence of your own or your sponsor’s ability to pay the tuition fees and cover living expenses.

STEPS ON HOW TO APPLY FOR U.S STUDY VISA

1. Apply to an SEVP-approved institution

As an international student, you should ensure you choose an institution and program accredited by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Accreditation is important as it ensures your degree is recognized by other universities, professional associations, employers and government ministries worldwide. Only SEVP-approved institutions can enroll students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and provide you with the documents necessary to apply for a US student visa. Use the government’s Study in the States website to identify accredited institutions.

Once you have been accepted by an institution, the university will enroll you in the SEVIS system and you will be sent a SEVIS-generated document called Form I-20 if you are eligible for an F or M visa, or Form DS-2019 if you are eligible for a J visa.

The SEVP manages international students in the F and M visa classifications, while the Department of State (DoS) manages Exchange Visitor Programs and international students on J visa classifications. Both SEVP and DoS use SEVIS to track and monitor institutions and exchange visitor programs and international students.

2. Pay the SEVIS fee

You must pay the SEVIS fee at least three days prior to submitting an application for a US visa. In order to pay the fee you’ll need to file either an online or 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.

At the time of writing, the I-901 fee is US$200 for F/M visa holders and $180 for J student visa holders. J visa holders working as camp counselors, au pairs or in summer work/travel pay $35 instead. The website explains the procedure for different types of payment including debit or credit card, check, international money order and Western Union Quick Pay. Having paid the fee, you can return to the website to check on your payment status if desired. A third party (such as your sponsor) can also pay the fee for you. If the fee is paid on your behalf, you should receive a receipt from that third party.

You can obtain and print a payment confirmation from the website at any time after processing your payment. You’ll need this confirmation as proof of fee payment at your US student visa interview. You may also be required to show the confirmation to the customs officer at your chosen US Port of Entry, if ever you change your non-immigrant status, or if you’re applying for any other US immigration benefits

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3. Complete a US student visa application

Once you have received your SEVIS form and paid the SEVIS fee, you can make an appointment with a US consulate or embassy in your country for a US student visa application. It’s best to apply as early as possible, regardless of when your program is due to start, as visa processing times can vary. Your visa can be issued up to 120 days before you’re due to enter the US.

Most countries have their own dedicated website for everything to do with making a US student visa application, which can be accessed from this main page. If you cannot find your country in the list, you may still be able to find the US embassy or consulate in your country using the US embassy’s website.

Online visa application: DS-160

In all cases you’ll need to complete the online visa application form DS-160. You’ll need to select the location from which you wish to apply and ensure you have all the documents and information you need to fill in the application. After selecting and answering a security question, you’ll be taken to the pages of the form. At the top, you’ll find your application ID. You’ll need this ID to retrieve your form if you need to exit the application and return to it later.

Personal details required to complete the DS-160 form include:

  • Name and date of birth
  • Address and phone number
  • Passport details
  • Details of travel plans, and travel companions
  • Details of previous US travel
  • Your point of contact in the US
  • Family, work and education details
  • Security, background and medical health information
  • SEVIS ID and address of US school/program you intend to enroll in (as printed on I-20 or DS-2019 form)

You’ll also need to upload a suitable recent photo of yourself in the format explained in the photograph requirements. If your photo upload fails you’ll need to take a printed photograph – which meets the requirements – to your visa interview.

Take care to answer all the questions accurately and fully as you may have to reschedule your visa interview appointment if you make any errors. If you get confused when filling in the application form, you may find answers to your questions on the travel.state.gov website.

Once the visa application form is completed, you’ll need to electronically sign your DS-160 by clicking the “Sign Application” button at the end. After your application is uploaded, you’ll be sent a confirmation page with a barcode, barcode number and your application ID number which you’ll need to print out and take to your visa interview appointment. You do not need to print the full application.

4. Pay the visa application fee

The visa application fee is also called the Machine Readable Visa Fee, or ‘MRV fee’. Make sure to review the fee payment instructions available on your embassy or consulate website as methods may vary. In general, however, there are three ways to pay the non-refundable, non-transferable visa application fee:

  • In person at an approved bank
  • By phone (you’ll receive a fee confirmation number)
  • Online (you’ll need to print your receipt)

During your research, don’t worry if you come across the term ‘visa issuance fee based on reciprocity’ – this does not apply for F1, F2, M1, M2, J1 and J2 visa applicants.

You’ll be asked for the MRV fee receipt when you get to your visa interview appointment. Some J visa applicants will not need to pay application processing fees if participating in a US Agency for International Development (USAID) program or a federally funded educational and cultural exchange program with a program serial number beginning G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-7.

5. Schedule and attend a US student visa interview

The final step in getting a US student visa is to arrange and attend a visa interview. You can do this either online or using the phone, by calling your nearest US embassy or consulate. In either case, you should complete the MRV fee payment first, as you may need to give your MRV fee number.

The visa application process cannot be completed until you appear for an interview with a consular officer. Don’t worry if you need to schedule your interview appointment at a different US embassy or consulate than the one you used to apply for your visa. The barcode from your DS-160 can be used to retrieve your information in any US embassy or consulate. However, be aware that it may be difficult to qualify for a visa if you apply outside your place of permanent residence. Wait times for visa interview appointments vary by location, season and visa category.

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Documents for the visa interview

Check the website of the embassy or consulate where you will apply to make sure you have all the required documents needed for your interview. These documents may include:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US. If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application. You may also need to bring all your current and old passports.
  • Signed SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 (including individual forms for spouse/children)
  • Form DS-7002 (for J-1 Trainee and Intern visa applicants only)
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • DS-160 application confirmation page with barcode and application ID number
  • MRV fee payment confirmation receipt
  • Printed copy of visa interview appointment letter
  • 1-2 photographs in the format explained in the photograph requirements. Should be printed on photo quality paper.

You should also be prepared to provide the following documents:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
  • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
  • Financial evidence showing you or your sponsor (i.e. parents or a government sponsor) has sufficient funds to cover your tuition, travel and living expenses during your stay in the US.

You can also bring along a separate written list of all your previous employers and schools you have attended for reference.

Any derivative visa applicants will need to take:

  • A copy of the marriage and/or birth certificate for proof of relationship
  • A copy of the principal applicant’s visa (i.e. F-1, M-1, J-1), or official documentation from the USCIS confirming the principal applicant’s status.
  • A copy of the personal data page from the principle applicant’s passports.

Attending the visa interview

It’s important to be on time for your visa interview – late applicants may be asked to reschedule for another day. In most cases only applicants with a scheduled appointment will be admitted inside the US embassy or consulate. Exceptions include a parent for children under 18, translators, and assistants for the disabled – you’ll need to contact your chosen embassy or consulate to give them the name of the parent, translator or assistant who will accompany you.

The purpose of the visa interview is for the consular officer to determine whether you are qualified to receive a US student visa and, if so, which visa category is appropriate for you. Be prepared to answer questions regarding ties to your home country, your English language skills, your academic background, the program in the US to which you have been admitted, and proof of your financial resources. You may also be asked to explain your plans for when your studies are finished.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. This usually happens at your visa interview.

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After your interview the consular officer will tell you if your application requires further administrative processing – this can mean additional time for you to wait to receive your visa. Wait times will vary depending on country. You will also be informed how and when your passport with the visa will be returned to you (usually pick-up or delivery by courier). In some countries the courier company will send you an email with a tracking number which you can use to track the delivery of your passport.

F-1 and M-1 visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your study start date, but you will not be allowed to enter the US earlier than 30 days before your start date. J-1 visas can be issued at any time. If you want to enter the US before these 30 days, you must qualify for and obtain a visitor visa. The 30 day limitation does not apply to students returning to resume studies – they may enter the US at any time, provided they have a valid visa.

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