In order to study in the USA, an international student must get a US student visa. The USA is home to most of the top universities in the world to which a number of international students apply every year. The whole procedure of getting admission to the US universities may be daunting but once the success is attained, the extensive experience of the US education system enriches students to achieve heights.
The major US non-immigrant visas for students are of three types, which are -
The J1 visa is issued to international students for study and work-based exchange visitor programmes. A DS-2019 form by either the US government agency or the sponsoring organisation of the participant is required to apply for this visa.
This non-immigrant student visa is issued to the students who wish to study at a vocational school in the US and in order to apply for the M1 visa, one must have an i20 form from a US embassy in India.
One of the most common US student visas is the F-1 Visa. F1 visa is issued to the students or researchers who have applied to US universities, private elementary schools, high schools, etc. Students must take a look below to get information on the F1 visa rules and F1 visa application.
Also Read: USA F-1 Student Visa Guide
In order to get a US student visa from India, students will have to complete the following steps carefully. It is important that students apply for the US student visa well in advance to avoid any last-minute hassle.
Step 1 - Get Accepted at a US University
In order to apply for the US student visa, one must have been accepted to a SEVP-approved school.
SEVP stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Program that administers the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System).
The SEVP-accreditation is important to ensure that the pursued degree is recognised by other government ministries and universities worldwide.
Step 2 - Pay SEVIS Fee
Once a student has been accepted by a university, she/he will be enrolled in the SEVIS system by the institution itself.
To make sure the enrollment in the SEVIS system, the students will have to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
Upon the enrollment in the SEVIS system, the student will be sent an I-20 Form (often miscalled as I-20 student visa) which is a SEVIS-generated document.
If one is eligible to get F-1 or M-1 visa, she/he is sent I-20 Form whereas, in case of J-1 visa, candidates are sent DS-2019 Form by the university.
Students must pay the SEVIS fee at least three days prior to the US student visa application submission.
The SEVIS fee for F1 is 200 USD and 180 USD for the J-1 visa.
It is advised to students that they print the payment confirmation after paying the SEVIS fee as this will be needed during the US visa interview.
Step 3 - Complete the US Visa Application
As soon as the SEVIS Fee is paid, the students must complete their US visa application process.
It is advisable that an applicant starts the process as soon as possible irrespective of the time of batch commencement as the process might take from 30 - 120 days.
In order to do so, students will have to complete the DS-160 form which is an online visa application form.
Candidates will be required to pay a visa application fee, also called the MRV fee (Machine Readable Visa), which is non-refundable. The US student visa application fee for the common nonimmigrant visa types is 160 USD.
Step 4 - Schedule a US Visa Interview
The next step will be scheduling an interview at a US Embassy or consulate in the candidate’s country.
The contact details of the US Embassy or consulate in one’s country can be found on the official portal of the US Embassy.
The US visa application process will not be completed until the candidate appears for an interview with a consular officer.
During the US student visa interview, students must have the following documents that are required to further the process. In the absence of these documents, the interview will stand cancelled. The documents are:
A Valid Passport: The passport must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the student’s period of stay in the country.
SEVIS Forms: Self-attested I-20 Form and DS-2019 Form (whichever applicable) is required at the time of the interview. If the candidate's spouse or children are also included in the passport, an individual form must be submitted for each of them.
SEVIS Fee Receipt: A printed SEVIS Fee payment confirmation receipt must be brought along with the candidate at the time of the interview.
DS-160 Form: The application confirmation page of DS-160 is required along with barcode and application ID number.
MRV Fee Receipt: Student must present proof of the payment of the visa application fee, which is also known as MRV Fee. The receipt can be downloaded after the successful payment of the fee.
Photographs: A minimum of 2 passport size photographs must be brought in the interview by the candidate. The photograph should have been printed on a photo quality paper. The candidate must not be wearing spectacles in the photograph and 80% are of the picture must be occupied by student’s face. Pictures with a white background are preferred.
Appointment Letter: Students must submit a printed copy of their visa interview appointment letter.
DS-7002: The applicants of J-1 visa Intern and Trainee must bring DS-7002 form.
Other documents that may be asked for in the interview are:
Standardized test scores
Financial evidence to prove sufficient funds
Transcripts from the previously attended university or school
A copy of the birth certificate
A copy of marriage certificate (if applicable)
Once students have been issued their visas, they can then proceed with their travel plans. It is advisable for candidates to make final plans after the issuance of the US student visa. In some cases, the visa is denied for certain reasons. Applicants are later given the reason that caused their ineligibility to access the US student visa.
While applying for a US student visa, one would need to pay a SEVIS fee and the F, J or M application fee or the MRV fee before applying for a nonimmigrant visa. The MRV fee is both non-refundable and non-transferable. The amount to be paid as the visa application fee would be based on the type of visa for which you are applying.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) tracks F, M or J visa holders during their time in the US, from their initial documentation until they graduate.
The SEVIS fee that a visa applicant must pay is $50 or INR 25,113 approximately.
SEVIS Fee Exception
Only those applicants who would be participating in a US-government sponsored programme would be exempted from the SEVIS fee.
Visa Application Fee
Type of Visa
$160/ INR 11,520
$160/ INR 11,520
$160/ INR 11,520
Note: The visa application fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.
Also Read: COVID-19 Impact on Study Abroad Aspirants
U.S. Embassy in India
New Delhi - 110021
U.S. Consulate General Chennai
Chennai 600 006
U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad
1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane
Begumpet, Secunderabad 500 003
Phone: From India: 040-4625-8222; 0120-484-4644
Phone: From U.S.: 1-703- 520 -2239
U.S. Consulate General Kolkata
38A, J.L.Nehru Road,
Kolkata - 700 071,
West Bengal, India.
U.S. Consulate General Mumbai
C-49, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex
Bandra East, Mumbai 400051
Phone: (91-22) 2672-4000
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