How to Get a Student Visa to Study in the U.S.

How to Get a Student Visa to Study in the U.S.

Studying in the United States is a dream for many international students. To make this dream a reality, you’ll need to obtain a student visa. Here’s a detailed guide on how to get a student visa to study in the U.S.

1. Get Accepted into a SEVP-Certified School

Before you can apply for a student visa to study in the United States, you must first be accepted by a school that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). SEVP-certified schools are authorized to enroll international students and provide them with the necessary documentation for visa applications.

How to Find SEVP-Certified Schools

You can search for SEVP-certified schools using the School Search tool on the Study in the States website. This tool allows you to filter schools by location, program type, and more.

Applying to SEVP-Certified Schools

Once you’ve identified potential schools, you should review their admission requirements and apply according to their guidelines. This may involve submitting transcripts, test scores, and other documentation.

Receiving Your Form I-20

After you’ve been accepted by an SEVP-certified school, they will issue you a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. This form is essential for your student visa application and proves that you are eligible to study in the U.S. You will need to present your Form I-20 at your visa interview and when you enter the United States.

It’s important to start this process early, as obtaining acceptance from a school and receiving your Form I-20 can take time. Once you have your Form I-20, you can proceed with the next steps in the student visa application process.

2. Pay the SEVIS Fee

After receiving your Form I-20 from an SEVP-certified school, the next step in the student visa process is to pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee. This fee is required to cover the costs of maintaining the SEVIS database, which tracks and monitors students and exchange visitors in the United States.

How Much is the SEVIS Fee?

The SEVIS fee for F-1 and M-1 student visa applicants is currently $350, while the fee for J-1 exchange visitor visa applicants is $220. Certain categories of J-1 applicants may have a reduced fee or be exempt from the fee altogether.

How to Pay the SEVIS Fee

You can pay the SEVIS fee online through the FMJfee website. You’ll need to provide your personal information, including your SEVIS ID number, which is found on your Form I-20, and your date of birth. Payment can be made using a credit card or other approved payment methods.

After Paying the SEVIS Fee

Once you’ve paid the fee, you’ll receive a confirmation receipt, which you should print and keep for your records. You’ll need to present this receipt at your visa interview and when you enter the United States as proof of payment.

It’s important to pay the SEVIS fee well in advance of your visa interview to ensure that the payment is processed and recorded in the SEVIS system. Without proof of payment, your visa application may be delayed or denied.

3. Complete the Visa Application

Fill out the online nonimmigrant visa application form, DS-160. Be sure to answer all questions accurately and completely. After submitting the form, you will receive a confirmation page with a barcode, which you’ll need for your visa interview.

4. Schedule and Prepare for Your Visa Interview

Schedule a visa interview at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Prepare for your interview by gathering the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • The DS-160 confirmation page
  • A visa application fee receipt
  • The SEVIS fee receipt
  • Your Form I-20 or DS-2019
  • Transcripts, diplomas, and standardized test scores required by your U.S. school
  • Proof of financial support to cover your tuition and living expenses
  • A passport-sized photo

5. Attend Your Visa Interview

During the interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a student visa. Be prepared to answer questions about your study plans, financial situation, and ties to your home country. You may also need to provide fingerprints.

6. Wait for Visa Processing

After the interview, your visa application will undergo processing. The processing time varies depending on the embassy or consulate. Once approved, you’ll receive your passport with the student visa and your Form I-20 or DS-2019.

7. Pay the Visa Issuance Fee

If your visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee, depending on your nationality. Check the U.S. embassy or consulate website for specific details.

8. Prepare for Your Arrival in the U.S.

Once you have your visa, you can make travel arrangements. You’re allowed to enter the U.S. up to 30 days before the start date on your Form I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure to carry all important documents with you, including your passport, visa, Form I-20 or DS-2019, and proof of financial support.

Getting a student visa to study in the U.S. requires careful planning and preparation. By following these steps and ensuring that you have all the necessary documents, you’ll be on your way to pursuing your educational goals in the United States.

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