You’re guaranteed an amazing time if you study abroad in the USA. In fact, we’ve written an article on 6 reasons why you should study in the USA -- you should check that out when you get a moment. After reading this article of course...
But figuring out how to apply for a US student visa can be a complicated process, what with so many official government websites to negotiate!
Here at Edboy though, our goal is to make every aspect of studying abroad easier to understand, even when it comes to applying for student visas.
So let’s clear up some confusion and show you how you can apply for your US student visa.
There are three US student visas, each of which is given depending on what your situation is. The most common is the F1 Visa. This is for students who will be studying a full-time course. For regular undergrad and postgrad students, this is normally the visa that you should apply for.
If you wish to bring children or a spouse along with you to the US, they must get an F2 Visa, which allows them to stay with you while you study in the USA. However, they are not allowed to work in the US with this visa.
Another option is the J1 Exchange Visitor Visa. This is for people who are going to the US to study a vocational course which lasts up to 10 months (no longer). If you have a dependent spouse or children, they must get a J2 visa in order to join you, but they cannot work unless they have prior permission (this will be established during their application).
Finally, there’s the M1 Student Visa. This is for non-academic courses, and only lasts for the duration of your course.
To sum up, chances are that you need to apply for an F1 Visa, but to be completely sure, check with the university you’ve applied to!
You should start applying for your visa no later than 3 months before your course of study starts. Ideally, you should actually begin your visa application process around 5 months ahead of time, as there are quite a few steps to take and quite a few documents to secure before you can actually apply.
Once you’ve completed your application, the processing time is between 3 and 5 weeks. After your visa has been approved, your country’s US consulate will deliver it to you within 2 or 3 working days (depending on where you are based).
Okay, here’s where the work starts! There are quite a few documents for you to collect before applying for your student visa.
These documents may change a little depending in the specific visa you’re applying for and your own situation, but in most cases, here’s what you’ll need:
The cost of a US student visa includes both an application / processing fee and the SEVIS fee (Student & Exchange Visitor Information System). Depending on the visa, costs can change a little, but here’s an approximate guide:
For the F1 Student Visa and M1 Student Visa, the SEVIS Fee is US$350, and the application / processing fee is $160. All in all that’s US$510.
On the other hand, the SEVIS Fee for a J1 Exchange Visitor Sisa is $220, and the visa application fee is $160; a total of US$380.
Here’s where some confusion begins, as the place to apply and the order of application events can change depending on your own US Embassy or consulate.
To keep you on the right track, visit the US Embassy website, find your own country and then your nearest embassy. Click through to their website and find the Visa tab. From there you’ll be able to get some easy to understand instructions to begin your online application. If you’re still in doubt, send them an email or call them on the phone.
However, it’s almost certain that you’ll be directed to the US Department of State Consular Electronic Application Centre. Here, you’ll have to fill out the DS-160 form.
Once you’ve applied online and booked your biometrics and interview appointment, you’ll have to attend the embassy (or consulate) in person.
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