US Student Visa Application Process for Indian Students
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To pursue higher education in US, you need to apply to universities that offer the course that you want to do. Once an educational institution approves your application and accepts you as a student, you have to start applying for a US student visa. For this, you will require some approval documentation from the educational institution of USA. You need to apply for the visa about 120 days before the starting date of the I-20 and you need to travel within a month from this date.
I-20: Form I-20 is the "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status" that you will receive from the US institute that has accepted your application. It is a very important form as without an I-20, you can't apply for your visa, or enter the USA, or apply for a driver's license or social security number.
Types of student visa for US
There are 3 types of student visas (all 3 are non-immigrant types) you can apply as an Indian/ international student, if you want to study in US.
- F-1 Visa: Most students who aim to have an education in US apply for F-1 Visa. You will need this visa if you want to do any academic course in any University or accredited college of USA, any private secondary school of US or even an English language program, which exceeds eighteen hours per week.
- M-1 Visa: In case you want to apply for a non-academic course, which could be some training or a vocational study course, you will need an M-1 Visa.
- J-1 Visa: Generally required by scholars, faculty or exchange visitors who come to the US as part of some exchange program to teach/ study/ conduct research/ get training.
Visa Application Process to Study in USA
Here's a step-by-step process to apply for a student visa to study in the US:
- Find out which type of visa you're eligible to apply for (F/ M / J)
- Once you know the type of visa you should apply for, you need to fill up the DS-160 form (the non immigrant visa electronic application form.) Before doing so, it is always better to read the guidelines. Also, make sure the information you enter is accurate, as it can't be changed later. Note down your DS-160 number for booking an appointment.
- Next step is to pay your visa fees (Also read: US visa fee for Indian students.) You can read the bank and payment page, for more details. By now you should have created your profile on the website. Once you pay the fees, it is important to keep the receipt number handy.
- You have to schedule 2 appointments to get your student visa. (Also read: How to book a visa appointment) One appointment is for the visa interview at the consulate or Embassy in your country. The other appointment will be at the Visa Application center, where your photo and fingerprints will be taken. This appointment has to be one day before your visa interview.
With your passport, DS-160 confirmation page and appointment confirmation page, you should be ready for your visa interview. You may also need some supporting documents to suggest that you can support yourself financially for your stay and studies in the US (Also read: List of documents to carry for your US visa interview). If you have a financial sponsor, you may need a proof of your relationship and the bank book, fixed deposit certificates and latest tax forms of your sponsor.
List of Sponsors:
- An applicant can not sponsor their own Primary Education and their education in Private Institutions but can sponsor their education in Under Graduate Courses, Vocational Courses, Masters, Doctorates and Foundation Courses.
- An applicant's parents can sponsor them for Primary Education, Private Institutions, Under Graduate Courses, Vocational Courses, Masters and Doctorates and Foundation Courses.
- An applicant's grand parents can sponsor them for Primary Education, Private Institutions, Under Graduate Courses, Vocational Courses, Masters and Doctorates and Foundation Courses.
- An applicant's spouse can sponsor them for Independent Schools, Masters Programmes and Doctorates only.
- An applicant's brother or sister (by blood) can not sponsor Under Graduate and PG certificate courses, but can sponsor their Primary Education, Education in Private Institutions, Vocational Courses, Masters and Doctorates and Foundation Courses.
- An applicant's uncle or aunt can sponsor their Primary Education, Private Institutions, Masters and Doctorates and Foundation Courses.
- An applicant can take bank loans for any course other than Vocational Courses.
- An applicant's employer can sponsor their Vocational Course and Foundation Courses.
- Extended Family can only sponsor an applicant for masters and doctorate programmes.