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A Guide to Student Visas for America

America is one of the most popular study destinations for international students, but its Visa process can be difficult to navigate. Fortunately, we are here to help clear things up and make your transition to America a little bit easier!

Please note: it is extremely crucial that you apply for your visa well in advance of the date your studies begin. If possible, apply three months before you plan to travel to the USA!

The USA issues different types of visas to students:

A full-time student would receive an F-1 or M-1 visa.

Your spouse and children would receive F-2 or M-2 visas.

An Exchange Visitor would receive a J-1 visa. Exchange Visitors come to the USA for consultation, training, research or teaching, or for an approved Au Pair or temporary work position.

Last Year 362,896 F-1 Student visas were issued and there are currently 1,169,464 million students in the United States on F and M visas!

Your school or university will send you a form confirming that you have been accepted at an institution authorised by the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) to enrol non-immigrant students (the I-20 for an F-1 visa or the DS-2019 for a J-1 visa.) You will read and sign this form. You will then need to make an appointment for a visa interview and to pay some required fees. Under a revision in the regulations, Student Visas can be issued up to 120 days before the date on your form I-20.

Each U.S. Embassy has a website providing instructions on how to make an appointment for a visa interview and other information on the visa application process. The website for the Embassy in your country can be located at: http://www.usembassy.gov/

“Intent to Return”

Most student and exchange visitor visa applications are approved. The most common reason for a student or exchange visitor application to be denied is that the person applying for the visa has not proven to the Visa Officer that they will return to their country when they complete their studies in the U.S.A. This rule is called Section 214.b.

To determine your “intent to return” home, the visa officer will ask you a series of questions about your connections to your home country and about your study plans.

Tips for Your Visa Interview

  • Wear a business suit or dress
  • Be specific when you answer questions
  • Bring bank statements or proof of employment
  • Provide details of your study plans
  • Stay calm and be professional
  • Tell the truth!

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