Before scheduling an interview, ensure you have all necessary documents available – these may include:
Academic preparation (transcripts, diplomas or certificates from schools attended; standardized test scores). You will also need to demonstrate financial support as well as your intention to return home after completion of studies; the consular officer may ask questions regarding these matters.
Once accepted into an academic program in the US, students must follow the procedures for their particular visa type. Requirements vary based on country and may include attending an interview at a consulate or embassy abroad. Before making their plans to apply for one of these visas official, it’s a good idea to review instructions at their intended consular or embassies website – these steps generally cover everything:
Valid passport with at least six months remaining until its planned period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exceptions). Individuals applying for visas must submit an individual application and photo that meet U.S. Department of State standards using Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application; in addition, an acknowledgment page should also be included with their submissions. Supportive documents must also be presented, including a Form I-20 issued by an SEVP-approved school; transcripts, diplomas and degrees from previous schools attended as well as scores from any necessary standardized tests; proof of financial support covering tuition and living expenses must also be shown; furthermore there must be strong social, family and financial ties back home that indicate your intention to return after finishing studies.
If you receive financial aid from Northwestern, Krista Bethel in the financial aid office may need to issue you a letter certifying your support from Northwestern. Many visa applicants must demonstrate they have enough funds for living expenses during their first year of study; usually bank statements, letters from relatives and other forms of documentation suffice in meeting this requirement. Sponsors who plan to stay behind must show evidence they possess enough money to support both family members while studying is ongoing.
2. Form I-20
Once admitted to a university, your admissions office will provide a Form I-20 that details your study program and includes your SEVIS ID number which identifies you as an official student in the US.
Once you receive this document from your university, it confirms their willingness to sponsor your student visa application and move the process along.
The I-20 form’s most critical information are the “Program Start Date” and “Program End Date,” which represent your school’s estimates as to when you should complete your degree requirements. If this period passes without completion of your studies, an extension may be granted; otherwise you must apply.
As part of your application to study in the US without working, you must demonstrate that you possess adequate funds for tuition fees, living costs and any necessary health insurance premiums. Showing evidence of sufficient assets demonstrates your intent to return home upon completing your program of studies – and not remain here permanently!
Evidence of your financial resources may include bank statements, sponsorship letters from parents/siblings/other family members/trusted individuals and employment offers from employers interested in hiring you while you study at a US Consulate. All documents must be presented along with other necessary supporting documentation during an interview session at this consulate.
3. SEVIS Fee
Once a student is admitted to an institution, they must register with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), an American government program which oversees schools; F-1, M-1 and J-1 nonimmigrant students as well as exchange visitors. It is particularly essential that non-US citizens pay this fee so as to complete the process of acquiring a US visa.
The SEVIS fee (Form I-901), currently $350, funds the SEVIS program and should be paid after you are accepted into your school and before beginning a program. In addition to any visa fees due at US consular offices or embassies, F-2 and J-2 dependent family members do not need to pay this fee.
Apply for SEVIS online with credit card, Western Union, check or money order from US banks payable to Department of Homeland Security (DHS). When paying with credit card upload a clear photo and SEVIS ID number from I-20 or DS-2019 form.
Once a fee has been paid, DHS will update SEVIS and provide a receipt to the student or scholar. They must bring this copy with them when interviewing for their visa interview appointment – it is wise to allow at least three days between making payment and meeting your visa interview appointment so your fee can be verified – this is particularly important if applying at a Consulate or Embassy outside the U.S.
4. MRV Fee
Students planning to enter the US using F or M type student visas must pay an MRV fee as part of the application process; it is non-refundable and is expected from all who apply for visas to the USA.
Once an SEVP-approved school accepts your enrollment, they will register you into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), an online database which tracks students with F, M and J visa classifications as well as J visa categories. SEVIS is managed by Homeland Security and funded via an I-901 fee.
Once your MRV fee has been successfully paid, a receipt with a unique number will be generated allowing you to schedule and track your visa interview appointment. The receipt is valid for one year and allows you to schedule interviews at any point within that timeframe.