Plan Your Career

Applying For The USA Student Visa

You should ideally start applying for a U.S visa 2- 3 months before the start of the program. First and foremost, you will need a valid passport to apply for the visa. It is advisable that your passport should be valid till at least 6 months after the end of your 4 year Bachelor’s level course.

What type of visa will I receive?

If you wish to pursue academic studies in the U.S, you will generally receive an ‘F – 1’ student visa. This
‘F – 1’ visa is meant for all those international students who wish to pursue full time education in the U.S. It is not required for students who plan to pursue part – time or vocational studies in the U.S.

 The ‘F – 1’ is the most common type of student visa and is valid till 60 days after the end your academic program. Through this visa, you can enter the U.S 30 days before the start of the course at the earliest.

As it is a student visa, there will be strict restrictions regarding the nature and duration of work that you can take up during your education period. To be able to apply for this student visa, you will need an
‘I – 20’ form that will be sent to you by the college you’re going to join.

What is the ‘I – 20’ form?

The ‘I – 20’ form is a form that has to be issued in your name by the institution that is going to enroll you in their course. It certifies your eligibility to be considered as a Non – Immigrant student and receive a U.S student visa. You cannot apply for a U.S student visa (F – 1) without this form.

The ‘I – 20’ form is sent to you by the college once you accept their offer for admission. Many colleges would ask you to fill certain applications in order to receive the ‘I – 20’ form. The basic purpose of this form is to certify that you have been admitted to a full – time academic program and that you have demonstrated the financial resources to pay for your expenses in the U.S for the whole duration of the course.

The ‘I – 20’ form is produced by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and acknowledges that your name and details have been added to the SEVIS database. It contains your SEVIS ID number along with the details of your program and its duration.

What is SEVIS?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a database used by the U.S Department of State, the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) and other U.S Government agencies to track and monitor non – immigrant students who come to study in the U.S from foreign countries.

SEVIS is an internet – based system that contains all the information regarding SEVP – approved schools and non – immigrant students who are a part of academic and vocational courses in the U.S. The basic purpose of SEVIS is to ensure that only legitimate students or foreign visitors enter the United States.

You have to make sure that the college you choose to join is certified by SEVP in order to receive the
‘I – 20’ form and be eligible to receive a student visa.

How to apply for the F – 1 visa?

-          The first thing you would need to do in order to apply for a U.S student visa is to get your
‘I – 20’ form from the college. Under most circumstances, this form will be sent to you by mail. You will only be allowed to apply for a visa if there are less than 120 days left for the start date of your program as mentioned on the ‘I – 20’ form.

-          Once you get your ‘I – 20’ form, you will need to pay the ‘I – 901’ SEVIS fee. To pay this fee, fill the
‘I – 901’ form online and make the payment. Print the receipt as it serves as a confirmation of payment. Visit the following website to make the payment:

-          You will also need to fill the ‘DS – 160’ form which is the ‘Nonimmigrant Visa Online Application Form’. Print out the confirmation page once you have completed and submitted the form. You can find the ‘DS – 160’ form at the following website:

-          You will also have to pay the ‘Visa Application Fee’ also known as the ‘MRV fee’. This is a non – refundable fee that can paid online using National Electronic Fund Transfer, or through Mobile Payments. You can also make the payment in cash at approve Citibank and Axis Bank branches. Keep the receipt of the payment as you will require it later.

-          The next step is to book an appointment with the U.S consulate or embassy for your visa interview. You will essentially need to schedule 2 appointments. One will be for the Visa Application Center (VAC) and one will be for the U.S embassy. You can schedule both appointments using the following website: or through their call center.

-          Once you book the appointment, take a print out of the appointment confirmation letter. You will need to take this along for the interview and to the Visa Application Center.

-          The appointment at the Visa Application Center has to be scheduled before your U.S embassy interview. This appointment will be used to scan your photograph and fingerprints electronically. Do not forget to carry your passport, DS – 160 confirmation page, Appointment confirmation and Visa application fee receipt to the center.

-          On the day of the interview at the U.S embassy, you will be required to carry various documents along with you including your ‘I – 20’ form, I – 901 SEVIS fee receipt, DS – 160 Confirmation page, Visa Application Fee receipt, Appointment Letter and all your old and current passports. You will also be required to carry many additional documents that support your visa application, such as financial statements to prove your ability to fund your education, proof of family and financial assets in India to prove non – immigrant intent, your transcripts, test scores etc.

-          The basic purpose of the interview is to see whether you are qualified to receive the visa or not. You can be asked questions regarding your family ties, academic background, financial status and future plans. The decision regarding your visa application will be made by the official interviewing you. 

What is the ‘I – 94’ form?

The form ‘I – 94’ or the ‘Arrival/Departure record’ is a document that is issued to non – immigrants at the time of entry into the U.S. It serves as a proof of your legal entry into the country and also mentions the duration of your authorized period of stay.

How to maintain your ‘F – 1’ visa status?

After getting the visa, it is equally important to maintain your ‘F – 1’ visa status once you are in the U.S. If you fail to maintain your visa status of a Non - immigrant student (F – 1), your visa might be cancelled and you might even be deported from the U.S. To maintain your status, it is advisable to follow these guidelines:

-          You are only allowed to enter the U.S when there are 30 days or less left for the beginning of your academic program. You cannot enter the U.S before that. Make your travel plans accordingly.

-          Contact your Designated School Official (DSO) as soon as you reach the U.S and again before the start date of your academic program.

-          Maintain a ‘Full Time Student’ status at all costs. This means that you will have to earn a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester.

-          Do not do any sort of work without authorization. Under most circumstances, you will only be allowed to work on – campus for 20 hours per week during the semester.

Study in USA