Step 1: Be accepted in a SEVP-approved college or institution
According to Alfred Boll, Branch Chief of Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State in Washing DC, there are 4,700 accredited colleges and universities throughout the U.S. You have to be accepted in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved college or institution and secure an I-20 form. There is no centralized application system and each institution may have different processes in the application and securing I-20 form. Follow the steps or instructions to getting a Form I-20 issued from your institution and provide documents so they can issue Form I-20 to you (information from your passport, certification of your financial situation, other additional forms).
Step 2: Pay the SEVIS fee
After receiving your I-20 from your chosen institution, visit FMJFee.com to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. Once paid, print out the confirmation page because you’ll need that for your visa interview. Complete the student Visa application by visiting the travel.stage.gov website and accomplish the form.
Step 3: Go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website
Apply for your international student visa through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website. Check the location of the consulate you plan to apply. After this, schedule an appointment and learn about the application fee. There might be a slight difference in the application process depending on the embassy. For details, visit the embassy’s official website or contact it directly. You may apply for the student visa but no more than 120 days before the program begins.
Step 4: Pass the visa interview
Jennifer Sudweeks, U.S. Embassy’s non-immigrant visa chief in New Delhi, India, gave tips on what to do during the student visa interview. The consular officer will focus on four things during the interview:
- Who are you and what are your ties? What is the story of your academic journey?
- What do you want to do? Where do you want to study? Why do you want to study that particular major or subject?
- How are you going to pay for the university?
- What do you want to do when you finish your studies?
It is very important to prepare all the necessary documents to support your application. It is very important to not book travel to the U.S. until a student Visa has been issued. In case there will be changes, make sure to reach out to the college or university and keep them informed if there are changes in the process.