Every year, almost 600,000 international students from over 200 countries apply to study in U.S universities and colleges. When you consider the fact that 7 out of the 10 top-rated higher education providers are located within America, including world-renowned names such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and MIT, it’s hardly surprising. Many of the foreign students that make it to these institutions also attempt to parlay their top-tier education into future work opportunities within the local job market.
However, successfully transitioning from a student visa to full-time employment or even permanent residence within the United States is easier said than done. Before you decide to take the plunge, it’s important to be aware of all the challenges at hand.
The U.S Student Visa Application Process
The F-1 Visa
While there are a variety of visas available to foreign students, most choose to apply for an F-1 visa. This is a general-purpose academic visa that entitles recipients to attend any English language study program at an accredited US university or college.
Steps to Obtaining the F-1 Visa
The first step in the F-1 process is gaining admission into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) approved institution. At this stage, you will generally need to provide the university with proof that you have sufficient income to cover your tuition and living expenses during your period of study.
Once you have received confirmation of your admission, you will need to pay a fee to register yourself on the Student and Exchange Visitor Program Information System (SEVIS). After this is done, the university will issue you an acceptance letter alongside an I-20 form which certifies your eligibility for visa application.
The next step is to download and fill out a DS-160 nonimmigrant visa form. This form will cover all basic details of your application including the country you’re applying from, your personal information, work history, family background, and details on the school you’re applying to. All fields should be filled as accurately and thoroughly as possible. Once the form is completed, pay the relevant application fee (MRV fee) online or through a relevant bank and procure a receipt of payment.
Now that you have the documentation in order, you can schedule an interview with your local US embassy or consulate to begin the F-1 application process. We recommend that you put your application into action at least 6 to 12 months before the semester begins, as the processing period can be quite laborious.
What to Bring To Your F-1 Visa Interview
- A valid passport.
- Your school transcripts, educational certificates, and the results of any standardized tests that you took in advance of your application.
- The SEVIS I-20 form and the DS-160 form.
- Receipts for your visa application and SEVIS fee payments.
- 2 photographs in a standardized format.
- Proof of funds.
If your interview is successful, then the local US embassy will return your passport with the applicable visa. Depending on the country you applied from, you may be required to pay an additional issuance fee before your visa is approved.