If you’re interested in studying in the United States, and you are not a U.S. citizen, you’ll need to apply for student visa. The application process can take quite a long time – as many as six months. So, it’s wise to start preparing well in advance.
The 6 Stages When You Apply For Student Visa
While the process and order of these steps can be unique to each country and embassy, in general you’ll end up going through them all at one point or another when you apply for student visa.
1. Apply to an SEVP school.
The Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP) has a list of approved schools for foreign students. You must apply to (and be accepted by) one of these schools prior to obtaining a student visa. You should begin this process between six and twelve months in advance of the year you want to spend in the U.S. Once accepted, the school will enroll you in the SEVIS system, and you’ll receive the appropriate documentation to fill out.
2. Pay the SEVIS fee.
SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. You must pay this fee no less than three days prior to your visa application submission. To pay the fee, you will need to file a form online (or via mail); you can get the form by visiting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website. Be sure to obtain a copy of your payment confirmation; you’ll need it at your student visa interview, and possibly later on.
3. Fill out a student visa application.
After receiving your forms, and paying your fees, you can make an appointment with a U.S. consulate or embassy for your student visa application. Again, early application is best. Visa processing times can vary, and the US government can issue your visa as far as 120 days in advance of your entry. Because the application process can vary by country, you’ll need to visit the embassy or consulate’s page to understand the full process.
4. Complete the DS-160 visa application form.
This form is available online, and includes a long list of personal information, health history, travel arrangements, a recent photo, and your applicant ID (assigned during the online process). After you’ve completed and signed the form, the program will issue a confirmation page with a unique barcode. Print this out and bring it with you to your appointment.
5. Pay the visa application fee.
Sometimes called the Machine Readable Visa fee (MRV fee), you can pay it in person, via phone, or online. The interviewer will ask you for the receipt at the interview, so keep it safe.
6. Schedule (and attend) your student visa interview.
Your application cannot be completed without an interview, so be sure and get one scheduled ASAP. Wait times for interviews can vary by season, country and location, so it’s best to give yourself extra time, if possible. You’ll need to present a host of documents at the interview, so review the requirements and come prepared.
During the interview, the interviewer will ask you a variety of questions to determine your eligibility and proper visa categorization, as well as your plans post-studies. The interview is not a guarantee of issuance. However, you will find out if you’re approved on the spot, or if your application requires further review.
Save Yourself the Hassle and Get Help When You Apply For Student Visa
Once you apply for student visa and your application is complete, you will be notified of your visa status. It is important to note that each and every step in this process has a variety of requirements and guidelines. Any mistakes made along the way can cause indefinite delays to your application processing.
Need help as you apply for student visa? Call (404) 892-8300 to schedule a free consultation.