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Visa Tips and Procedures

What are the basic requirements for a student visa?

  • There are four basic requirements students must fulfillto be eligible for an F-1student visa. Students must:
  • Prove they have been accepted by a school for a certificate or a degree course.
  • Have sufficient English skills to complete their studies or show that the school will provide them with adequate English language training.
  • Show evidence that they have enough money to pay for their school fees and living expenses
  • Show that they will return to their own country once they have completed their studies.

What are the procedures for applying for a student visa?

  • The first step is for you, or a representative, to take your passport to the U.S. Ambassador Consulate General to make an appointment for an interview. You should plan early, since there may be a waiting period of a few weeks between your appointment and going to the interview.
  • When you appear for the actual interview, you should bring with you your passport, the visa application form, one 1.5" photo, the I-20 Form issued by the school that accepted you, originals and/or photocopies of your financial support documents, and your examination and school results.
  • You will be required to have an interview, in English, with a visa officer. Questions that the visa officer MAY ask you include:
    "Why do you want to study in theUnited States?"
    "What kind of subjects do you want to study?"
    "What are your plans after you return home
    ?"
  • Do not over-rehearse your interview, and be sure to listen carefully to the questions the visa officer asks.
  • You will find out at the end of the interview whether or not your application has been approved. If you are granted the visa, you will have to return a few days later to pick up your passport, which will have the photo-copies of your financial documents attached. You will need these when you enter theUnited States. The name of your school will be written on your visa.
  • If you decide to attend a different school, you must re-apply for a new visa.
  • If your application is denied, your passport will be stamped and you may receive a second interview. You should ask the visa officer for the specific reason why you were denied. You may apply again only if you have new evidence to support your application.

How can I prove that I have been accepted to study at an American university?

  • You will receive an acceptance letter and an I-20 Form. These are documents you will need to show the U.S. Consulate to prove that you have been accepted by a school.
  • If you receive an I-20 Form from a school that you do not plan to attend, you could return the form to that school.

How can I show that I have sufficient financial resources to pay for my studies?

  • You need to prove that you have enough money available to pay for the first year of your studies and living expenses. You will also need to show evidence that you will continue to be able to pay for the remaining period of study in theUnited States. The amount that you will need, including tuition and living costs, is shown on the I-20 Form (see sections 7 & 8).
  • Any document which proves that you, or your financial sponsor, have sufficient funds in US dollars can be used to support your visa application. Students most often use their sponsor's bank passbooks, showing savings, fixed deposits, etc. to Prove they have been accepted by a school for a certificate or a degree course.
  • As evidence that funds will continue to be available after the first year, the visa officer would like to see your own, or your sponsor's, financial statements for the past three years, indicating that there has been a steady income.
  • Ideally, someone in your immediate family will act as your sponsor. It is possible for someone else, such as a close family friend, to sponsor you, but the visa officer would want a clear explanation, preferably in writing, why this person is willing to sponsor you for the duration of your stay in theUnited States.

How can I prove that I will return to my home country when I finish my studies in theUnited States?

  • When you apply for your student visa, the visa officer will look for three things which "tie" you to your home country:
    • Your social ties may be called into question if you have spent a long period of time away from your country, for example, if you have been studying in another country.
    • The visa officer may ask about your family ties. 
      Example: 'Do you have several relatives living abroad?'.
    • You should be able to prove strong economic ties if your family has a business or a property in your own country.
  • When you are interviewed by the visa officer, be prepared to explain the strength of all these ties and perhaps the type of job you would like to seek when you return after graduation.

How long is the visa valid?

  • The visa is valid for at least the period specified on the I-20 Form. Normally, a visa will be valid for up to three years. If any question may arise about your visa length, you should make sure to explain to the visa officer that your I-20 Form is from a two-year community college and you will continue onto a 4-year university.

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