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All you need to know about US student visas

Last updated on: December 28, 2009 10:06 IST

Applications to US colleges and universities are beginning to pick up steam this time of the year. Students are scrambling to get their transcripts and certificates in place. Tesitimonials are requested for and draft statements of purpose are hurriedly scribbled down. However, the most stressful part of the entire process for most students is the visa interview. It is this interaction that determines whether a student will actually fly to the United States of America and pursue his/ her dream education.

Here, an officer at the US Consulate answers some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the student visa application process. 

How does one apply for a visa to study in the US?
In order to qualify for a student visa, applicants must come to the US Consulate for a personal interview, which can be scheduled through VFS. In addition, the following documents are required:

a. An I-20 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, obtained from a US college, school or university. Please be sure to give us both pages of the newer, bar coded SEVIS form. The form must also be signed by you and by a school official.  

b. Mark sheets, transcripts, and certificates from previous institutions attended.

c. Scores from US standardised tests such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, where applicable.

d. Financial evidence showing you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. You must prove that funds are immediately available to cover the first year's costs, and show evidence that funds will be available for all subsequent years. Any financial documentation you provide should be in
support of this. This applies to ALL student visa applicants.

All student visa applicants need to schedule an interview through VFS. Please visit our website or the VFS website for more information on this process. (http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/f_and_j_visas.htmlwww.vfs-usa.co.in)

What are the five things you look for while issuing a student visa?
There are a variety of requirements that must be met in order for a student visa to be issued, however there is no checklist that an applicant can do to guarantee issuance of a visa. Each applicant must quality on his/her own merit and each case is different. To qualify for a student visa, you must be a legitimate student in possession of a valid "I-20 form," demonstrating acceptance into a US educational institution. You must have the finances to pay for the tuition and living expenses incurred while going to school and finally, you must prove your intent to return to India once your studies are over.

What are the five most common grounds on which a student's visa application could get rejected?
There are a variety of reasons why individuals may not qualify for a US student visa. In general, a student must convince a consular officer that he/she is qualified for a US student visa per the requirements above.

How important does a personal interview count in the visa process?
The personal interview is very important to determining if the applicant qualifies. To be approved for a visa, applicants must satisfy the interviewing officer that they are entitled to the type of visa for which they are applying for and that they will return to India at the end of their authorised temporary stay.

What are the five things an average Indian student must keep in mind while appearing for the interview?Always tell the truth. The applicant should educate themselves on the visa process through our website so they do not pay additional fees and/or get the wrong information from other sources. 

Finally, relax! We realise that this is a life changing event. The more relaxed you are, the better your interview will be.

Abhishek Mande
Tags: VFS, US, I-20, GMAT, ALL