Tips on how to obtain a student visa to study in the United States

There has been great interest and a huge number of students who would like to study in the United States. These numbers keep on increasing on a yearly basis. For one to be able to travel and study in the United States you will need a Student Visa. There are two categories of Visas for foreign students. They are F Visa or an M Visa. What will determine the kind of Visa you need to apply are, the type of school that you intend to go to and also the course of study. You will need F Visa when you are going to the United States to study at the University, High School, Private elementary school, Seminary, Conservatory or any other academic institution. This can also be a language training program. For an M Visa applicant, you should be a student going to the United States to study in a vocational or other non academic Institution.
You should have the idea of the kind of Visa that you are going to apply for and its requirements before beginning this process.
Here are some of the requirements in order to get the Visa.
1. Must be a member of academic, language, or vocational program
2. The Students and Exchange Visitors program must approve your credentials for you to be able to get the Visa
3. Be a full time student at any recognized Institution
4. You are required to get a residence in the country and not willing to let it go any time soon
5. Have enough money to support your academic and also sustain you for your entire stay in the country.
6. Be very fluent in English language, if you are not, then show that you are in the process of getting acquainted with the language by enrolling in courses that teaches English.

For one to be considered for the Visa, they have to apply for the same. There are a number of ways to apply for a Visa. The ways you will apply for the Visa are different depending on what you have chosen. It is advisable to check and find out what the instructions are be it either in the Embassy or the website that you are using.
Step 1 – Complete the Visa Application online
You will have to fill in the online form, also known as DS-160; this is an online application form for foreigners. After which you will print the completed application form as the hard copy is what you will need to have with you when you are going for your interview. During the completion of the application you will be required to upload your photo. The photo must meet the requirement that are clearly stated on the on DS-160 form.

Step 2 – The Interview
The interview is strictly for a person aged between 14 years to 79 years of age. Ages below or above the stated years are not generally required to attend an interview. The applicant will have to arrange and schedule for the interview at the Embassy. Your scheduled interview will depend on your location and when you had applied for the Visa. It is very important to apply for the Visa in good time so that you will be considered early. Also crosscheck the interview time for your location. The new students can get their visas up to a period of 120 days in advance, but note that you will not be allowed to enter the United States with your student Visa more than 30 days before that date that you intend to start your studies. As for continuing students, they can be issued with their Visas at any time and they can also enter the United States at any time that they may wish. So long as it is before the commencement of the study.

Step 3- Preparation for the Interview
You must be well armed with the Visa application fee. It is a non refundable fee that varies depending on your location. Upon the approval of the Visa you will also be required to pay for the Visa issuance fee. Kindly review on the embassy website your rate, for both fees and if possible have it with you when you are attending the interview.
Apart for the Fees, it is very important you check that you have all the required documentation. The following are check list of the documents that you will require to have with you when attending the interview.
• Your passport – it must be valid for at least six months
• Form DS-160
• Receipt for the application fee
• A printed photo in the earlier stated format
• Certificate of Eligibility for either F-1 or M1 applicant.
Here your school will send I-20 as soon as they have entered you details in the database known as the SEVIS. The form must be signed by both you and the school officials. It is very crucial that the student be registered in the SEVIS. If you have your spouse and children who are minor and would wish to stay with you in the United States, all of the will be given their own I-20.
The additional documents that might be required are;

School certificates be it high school certificate, diploma or any other relevant certificate
Test score by your US School
Your intention to leave the United States once you are through with your studies
Show how you are going to pay for your living expenses and tuition fees as well.

Step 4 – Attending your interview.
You will be interviewed by a consular official who will determine whether you qualify to enter the United States. They may also recommend that you fit another category other than what you had already applied for, depending on your qualification. It is very important that you establish the requirements needed under United States law to receive the visa. During the interview your finger print will be taken so as to be sure that you have a clean criminal record before being given the visa. Note that this also depends on your various locations. If need be the consular official might recommend that your application may still need further access by the panel and you will be advised of the same. As soon as the interview is complete and you have qualified for the Visa. As earlier stated you will be required to pay for the interview issuance fee and your passport and any other documentation will be proceed back to you.

Step 5 – Entering
You should have in mind that your Visa does not guarantee that you can now enter the United States, but only allows you to travel to the port of entry and in most cases is the Airport. This is where you will be required to request for permission to enter the United States. At this point officials of different US organizations will determine where you are fit or not fit to enter the United States. They are the Department of Homeland Security, US. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officials. These officials have the power to deny or allow your entry. Here you will be required to present your Visa as well as your passport. Other documents that have to be presented at this stage are Form I-20. Once you are allowed by the official to enter the United States, they will provide you with a stamp or form known as I-94, which has your arrival and departure records.

Step 6 – If you wish to extend your Stay.
All the students with Visas must leave the United States within 60 days as soon as they conclude their studies as indicated on the Form I-20. You are allowed to extend your Visa through the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services. This can be done through their website. Note that failure to depart the United States in time could jeopardize your chances of coming back again. Or even worse you could be ineligible for future visas. It is advised that if you want to have a clean record and any chances to visit the United States again. You should abide by these set rules and regulations.

It might look like a very long and tedious process to attain Visa to travel to the United States, but in real sense it is not that cumbersome. These are very straight forward rules and regulations and they are easily available in various websites. Once you follow them to the letter and have proper documentation that are required it should be a walk in the park for anyone who would like to go and study in the United States. The set guidelines have been in existence for some time and are not changed frequently. Thus many people have managed to go and pursue their dream of study in the United States with so much ease and there is no reason why you should not be one of them. The most important thing is you should have a clean record both at home and abroad to boost your chances of making this routine a normal procedure. The regulations are very serious so any slight mishap may cost you big time.

Janet Rangi

Share this post