Do you know that the United States is one of the most preferred destinations for students to study abroad? The US universities offer perks such as degrees with international recognition, cultural diversity, quality research, career prospects, and so on. Once you are selected for a college in the US, you will have to fill the I-20 form. Your designated school official (DSO) will get in touch and send the form around the month of April. The I-20 form is one of the requirements that are necessary for filing an F1 visa application. The F1 visa application processing can take up to 60 days or more, depending on your individual circumstances. It is better to be proactive than to be late and sorry. This post will provide you with a step-by-step guide to filling out your F1 visa application. So, let's dive in!
Step 1: SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment
According to a 2004 mandate of the US government, every international student who wishes to study in the US must pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information Service (SEVIS) fee. Keep in mind, it is not the fee for an F1 visa application, and your college will also charge a separate SEVIS fee. Click on this link to visit the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement site and pay your I-901 fee. You can also track the status of your application on the website.
Step 2: Fill Online DS-160 Visa Application Form
The DS-160 is an online non-immigrant visa application form that allows an individual to stay in the US temporarily. You can fill out the application form online by visiting the US Department of State website. Do you know that the information filled in the DS-160 form, along with the interview, determines your eligibility for the F1 visa? Yes, that’s true. So, be as attentive as you can while filling out the form. In the form, there are nine sections to fill. Let’s have a close look at each one of them.
- Section 1: The Opening Window: Start the application process by picking the nearest consulate to you. Remember, you will have to go there in person for the visa interview. Afterward, click on 'Start an application.’
Tip: On the next page, you will get your application ID; save it for further use. Again, pick a security question that can be used to resume the application process from where you left, the next time.
- Section 2 Personal Information: Fill in your details like name, address, contact number, email ID, and other relevant information in this window.
- Section 3 Passport Information: Fill in your passport details here.
Tip: Do note that the Indian passport book number is not applicable in the US visa process. You will have to choose 'Regular' type in the dropdown window and then have to type your Passport book number.
- Section 4 Travel Information: Fill in the basic details like your estimated time of travel, purpose, and other relevant information. If you haven’t figured out your accommodation, fill in the address of your college. Pick ‘No’ in the dependent section unless you have a dependent in the United States.
- Section 5 Travel Companion: You will need to fill in the details of the point of contact (POC) in the US on this page. You can put the name of your contact person on the college campus and the college address mentioned in the I-20 form here.
- Section 6 Work/Education/Training: In the next window, put all the details regarding your education, training, and work experience according to your education certificates and work experience letters.
- Section 8 SEVIS Information: On this page, provide your SEVIS number from your I-20 document and other relevant details. After filling in all the details, click on review. Recheck all the information and make necessary changes. Afterward, click on 'Sign and Submit.’
- Section 9: Confirmation: Lastly, the confirmation window will pop up. Save as a PDF copy or print it out and save the confirmation number for future use.
Step 3. Visa Fee Payment
US F1 Visa applicants need to pay a non-refundable fee of $160 for the processing of the application. It is also known as the MRV fee. After making the payment, you will receive a receipt that will allow you to schedule a visa interview in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at any time for a year. Click here to pay your F1 visa application fee.
The payment procedure is pretty straightforward and simple. During the visa payment process, you will be asked to book a slot for the interview. Pick one that is the most convenient for you. Once the process is complete, don’t forget to mail yourself the confirmation and take a printout of it as well.
Step 4: List of Documents to Carry for the Visa Interview
There are two types of documents that you will need to carry to the interview. The mandatory documents are related specifically to visa processing. And the supporting documents for the information you entered in the DS-160 form.
- Mandatory Documents
- SEVIS I-901 payment receipt
- DS-160 Confirmation page with barcode (No need to bring DS160 form)
- Visa payment confirmation
- Visa appointment confirmation
- Current passport and old passport (If any)
- I-20 Document
- Supporting Documents
- GRE/GMAT Scorecard
- TOEFL/IELTS Scorecard
- 4 Visa Photographs (2×2 Inch photos)
- Bank statements/FD/Passbooks/PF/PPF statements/IT Returns/Payslips
- Loan sanction letter
- Relieving letter, Experience certificate, Proof of employment certificate
- Affidavit of support document
- CA Statement of assets and properties
- Decision letters from universities
- Statement of Purpose (SOP)/Resume
- Original 10th,12th, UG/PG degree certificate, Transcript, Marksheets
- Voter ID, driver’s license, college ID card, ration card, birth certificate.
After clearing your visa interview, you will receive an F1 visa. With an F1 visa, you can travel to the US 30-days before the commencement of your school program. F1 visa holders are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week. However, once you start attending college, you can start working on your full-time visa with a work permit in the US. Moreover, you will have to go through Optional Practical Training (OPT) to be eligible for an internship or part-time job in the US
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