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A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Secure Your US Student Visa

This blog by Gradding.com contains all the details on student visa for the USA and its aspects. Scholars can consider such info while planning their study abroad journey and apply for it timely.

"How do I begin my studies in the US?" this must be the question running through your mind while thinking of studying abroad or a query you want to type on Google, right? Have you heard of a US student visa? If you did, are you aware of the different types of student visas in the USA? However, applying for a US study visa is a hefty process and requires separate time, planning and awareness. Hence, study abroad consultants advise students to start the process at least 3 months prior to the date of departure.
Now, the question that comes to your mind has to be, "What is the best US student visa to apply for as a student?" We will learn different types of student visa in USA for international students with their description separately via this blog. Read on!

What Are the Various Types of US Student Visa?

Here's a concise of 3 different non-immigrant US student visas available to start learning your desired course in the USA.

  • M Visa:

These visas are made for overseas students who wish to learn a non-academic or vocational program from a US institution.
Further, there are 3 M-class US study visa types:

1.M-1 Visa
2.M-2 Visa
3.M-3 Visa

Let us have a look at the USA study visa requirements and other conditions to get an M-1 stamped on your passport:

BASIS DESCRIPTION
M-1 Visa With an M-1 visa on your passport, you can study full-time vocational, technical, or other non-academic program in the US.
M-1 Visa Requirements
  • Program you want to study in the US must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP).
  • Remember to mention that you will return to your home country once your study program is finished.
  • You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fee and additional expenses in the US.
  • Show your English Proficiency scores. Such as IELTS or TOEFL are acceptable exams by US institutions.
Documents Required For M-1 Visa
  • A Valid and Updated Passport.
  • Two Recent 2x2 Photographs.
  • Visa Application Payment Receipt.
  • Original and One Copy of Form I-20 Signed by an Official of your Applied University.
  • DS-160 Confirmation Page.
  • Proof of Financial Stability, such as Bank Statement, any Educational Loan Proof, Scholarship Letter, etc.
  • Academic Transcripts, Degrees, and Standardized & English Test Scores.
How to Apply for M-1 Visa?
  • Pay the SEVIS fee and begin the application process via I-20 form.
  • Complete Non-immigrant Visa Application Form DS-160.
  • Submit the final fee.
  • Schedule your visa interview at the US Embassy.
  • Prepare for your M-1 visa interview.
Cost of M-1 Visa
  • SEVIS I-901 Fee: USD $350
  • DS-160 Visa Fee: USD $185
M-1 Visa Processing Time A Minimum of 4 Weeks
Validity of M-1 Visa Maximum of 3 Years.
  • J Visa:

The US government has launched this J-category visa program to promote cultural exchange. Students must qualify for the requirements to enrol in this program and be financed by the government or their institute.
Further, there are 2 J-class US study visa types:

1.J-1 Visa
2.J-2 Visa

Let's have a further look at what a J-1 visa states and its requirements to study at an American university as an exchange student.

BASIS DESCRIPTION
J-1 Visa
  • J-1 student visa or Exchange Visitor Visa, is suitable for those who want to enrol in study or work-related exchange programs in the US.
  • These programs should be approved by Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
  • Must be financed or sponsored by an educational or non-profit organization.
J-1 Visa Requirements. Who Are Eligible?

Anyone studying these 15 program types are eligible to apply for J-1 Study Visa:

  1. Au Pair
  2. Camp Counselor
  3. College and University Student
  4. Government Visitor
  5. Professor
  6. Physician
  7. Specialist
  8. Secondary School Student
  9. International Visitor
  10. Research Scholar
  11. Short-Term Scholar
  12. Teacher
  13. Trainee
  14. Intern
  15. Summer Work Travel
Documents Required for J-1 Visa
  • A Valid Passport
  • Non-immigrant Visa Application DS-160 Confirmation Form.
  • I-901 SEVIS Payment Confirmation Receipts.
  • Visa Application Fee Payment Receipt.
  • Recent 2x2 Photograph (if not uploaded with DS-160 form).
  • Eligibility Certificate For Exchange Visitor, Form DS-2019.
  • Training / Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002
  • J-1 Visa Health Insurance
How to Apply for J-1 Visa?
  • Search for a sponsor accredited by the US Department of State.
  • Fill-in and submit DS-2019 form.
  • Pay your SEVIS I-901 fee.
  • Schedule your visa interview at US Embassy.
  • Attend your visa interview on the scheduled date.
Cost of J-1 Visa
  • I-901 SEVIS J-Visa Fee: USD $220
  • I-901 SEVIS Govt. Visitor Fee: No Charges
  • DS-160 Visa Fee: USD $185
J-1 Visa Processing Time
  • 8-13 Weeks
Validity of J-1 Visa
  • Up to 12 Months (Intern)
  • Up to 18 Months (Trainee)
  • F Visa:

International students who want to earn a degree from a foreign institute, as well as those seeking an English language course, can apply for an F-study visa.
Further, there are 3 types of F-visa:
1.F-1 Visa
2.F-2 Visa
3.F-3 Visa
Now, let's learn about the F-1 study visa in detail in the next section!

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What is the F-1 Visa, its Cost and Requirements?

Learn about F-1, USA study visa requirements, cost, etc., in the following sub-sections.

What is F-1 Visa?

It is the most popular study visa in the US that permits students to pursue any course as per their interest. The F-1 visa allows students to live temporarily in the USA until their course completion. This visa is suitable for an academic program in a recognized American university.
Talking about the working hours for F-1 visa holders, they can work 20 hours per week, both on or off-campus.
Let's move forward to learn various F-1 visa conditions!

F-1 Visa Admission Requirements

The USA study visa eligibility requirements for F-1 are:

  • University Certification: The program that you want to study in an American institute should be SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitors Program) certified.
  • Enrollment: Must be enrolled as a full-time student at the college.
  • Return Home Country: It could be a positive step if you mention that you will return to your home country after completion of your course.
  • Sufficient Finances: Demonstrate that you have enough funds to cover your tuition fee as well as expenses during your course duration in the US.
  • English Proficiency: Show that you're proficient in English or have graduated from an English-speaking college earlier. Besides, take IELTS / PTE / TOEFL to prove your language command.
  • Age Criteria: There is a specific USA study visa age limit as per the immigration department that your age should not be over 18 years at the time of applying.

Let us move towards the documentation needed before applying for an F-1 visa.

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Documents Required For F-1 Visa

Before applying for the F-1 visa, make sure to collect all the required documents. To make it easier for you, we've listed some essential copies and papers you may need for your F-1 visa application:

  • Valid Passport
  • Academic Certificates
  • Recent 2x2 Photographs (If not attached with DS-160 Form)
  • Visa Application Payment Receipt
  • Standardized and Language Exam Results
  • Original and One Copy of I-20 Form.
  • Health Insurance Proof
  • Bank Statement and Other Proof of Finance Sources

You must be thinking of what can be USA student visa process from India, correct? However, the procedure for getting an F-1 visa is complex and needs proper preparation before starting the application. And that's what the following section covers. Keep reading on!

How to Apply for an F-1 Student Visa?

The USA study visa process can be time-consuming, so it's suggested to start filling in the application as early as possible. Below mentioned are the 4 major steps to its procedure:

Process to Apply for F-1 Study Visa

1. Get an Approval from SEVP-Certified University

The first step to obtaining this visa is to apply to a SEVP-certified US institute. The SEVP certification proves that the following colleges have the proper resources for students to pursue their studies.

When you get accepted by the institute, you will receive an I-20 form. This form includes your study plans with proper details about your stay in the country.

The following details will be recorded in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) when you get your I-20 form:

  • Your SEVIS ID Digit
  • Your Program Start and End Dates
  • Your Study Program
  • Your Funding Support
  • Tuition Fee at Your University
  • Other Personal Data

2. Deposit the SEVIS Fee

The total F-1 student visa USA cost will be approximately $510. This amount is inclusive of the visa fee itself, SEVIS and maintenance charge. Make sure to save the payment receipt post-payment. Since you will need it for your visa interview.

  • SEVIS I-901 Fee: USD $350

3. Fill in the DS-160 Visa Application Form

After SEVIS, complete your DS-160 visa application. Add all the requested details and make sure not to add any invalid information.

  • DS-160 Visa Application Form Fee: USD 160

After submitting the DS-160 form, you will receive a confirmation letter with a bar code attached. Thus, save it for your visa interview.

4. Schedule Visa Interview

Search for a US embassy or consultant online to book your visa interview date. Pay the required US embassy fees for student visa and at the time of scheduling, you can do an online search for the embassy nearest to you. Practice for the interview in advance to feel confident on the final day.

Worried about what to expect on an interview date? Let's not think of it and do practice instead. What say? Well, the next few sections elaborate on study visa interview questions, its processing time, and more. Read on!

What to Expect on Your F-1 Visa Interview Date?

This step might be intimidating for you i.e. to sit in a visa interview. Well, feeling nervous is normal if it's your first time. But remember to take a deep breath, stay positive and recall that you can do it!

To calm yourself, go through these common visa questions that you may expect on your interview day:

  • What is the reason for picking this university?
  • Which other university have you applied to?
  • How will you cover your expenses?
  • Do you have any relatives in the USA?
  • Do you plan to extend your visa?
  • Will you start working post-graduation?

Meanwhile, to get an understanding of more such questions, assistance from an expert won't consume much time. Their F-1 student visa guidance can help you learn what to do on an interview day and can conduct mock interviews so that you won't feel anxious while answering.

What is F-1 Visa Processing Time?

Wondering “When would I get my Visa?” If yes, to get your visa on time, you should complete and submit your application 3 months before your departure date. The time taken by the US Embassy can range from a week to a couple of months, depending upon the complexity of your case. In some cases, they complete the process in a few days, and then it takes just 2-3 days for the delivery of your passport.

Validity of F-1 Study Visa

They can get up to 5 year student visa USA, depending on the duration of their course. So, after confirmation from the institution, students will receive an I-20 form, which contains the expiration date of their study program. Thus, they will have to complete their course before the listed expiration date on the I-20 form.

Now the query that hits your mind could be "Can I work in the US with an F-1 visa?" So, the answer to your question is covered in the next section.

Can F-1 Visa Holder Work in the USA?

Yes, you can work on the US land holding an F-1 visa! However, there are some rules and restrictions you will have to obey. Thus, understanding and sticking to these constraints is crucial for a successful job experience. These are:

  • You can only work on-campus jobs - up to 20 hours a week while full-time during vacations.
  • But if you want to do an off-campus job, you might need to ask for extra consent.
  • For off-campus internships linked to your course of study or jobs, you might require Curricular Practical Training (CPT). For that, ask your college officials to extend some details.

Suggested: Highest Paying Jobs in USA for Indian Students in 2024

With this, it must be precise to you which visa is required to study in USA for overseas students.
Likewise, getting a US visa is very tough, so make sure to go through the visa guidelines prior to filling out the application form. Besides, the following section covers the points you should avoid at any cost to prevent visa refusal.

Most Common Reasons For US Student Visa Rejection

There are a number of reasons for the student's visa refusal. Below listed are the most common F-1 visa rejection causes:

  • Insufficient Finances to Cover Expenses in the Country.
  • Failure to Demonstrate Your Intention to Return Home.
  • False or Inaccurate Documents and Information.
  • Not Writing the Correct Response to "Why You Chose the Following Study Program?"
  • Submitting Visa Application Late or Just a Few Days Before Program Starting Date.

Thus, students should always be sure about their intention to study the course and their chosen country. Any false paperwork can directly lead to a visa rejection letter. However, opting for an experienced study-abroad consultant might reduce this potential risk. Or, you may talk to experts at Gradding.com.

How Study Abroad Experts Can Help You?

They works with students, to learn about their interested courses and fields and help them with a successful enrolment at US universities. One such consultancy is Gradding.com. Their dedicated and experienced team provide end-to-end solutions and works with students from filling out visa applications until departure.br>Also, their services include documentation work, US study visas, interview scheduling, pre-departure sessions, tracking visa applications, etc.
Moreover, they also organize English Language classes (online and offline) for exams like IELTS, PTE, SAT, and TOEFL.

To sum up, it must have been clear how non-immigrant US student visa work for international students. Thus, create a checklist and arrange all documents to start further steps. The sooner you begin this process, the more chances of getting a US study visa stamped on your passport hassle-free and finally a secured flight to your dream American university.

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