Congratulations on your decision to study in the United States! You’re about to embark on a fabulous adventure, and what would most likely be the best time of your life.
You may be excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead, but first you need to take care of a few things, one of them being your U.S. student visa application.
If done right, the application process for a U.S. student visa should be smooth and easy.
There’s no way to “guarantee” that you’ll get a visa of any kind. But there are a few key points that could make or break your application.
Here you have nine quick tips if you want to apply for your U.S. student visa application:
1- Apply for your visa as early as possible
Schedule your visa appointment as soon as possible, so you can start your studies on time. Student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance. Make the most of this and request your visa with enough time to plan your trip and get settled before your school’s start date.
2- Get clear information about your school
One of the main reasons student visas are rejected is the applicants’ inability to answer basic questions about the school and/or the career they want to study in the U.S. Make sure you know the name of your school, college or university by heart, where it’s located, your major, and the reason or reasons why you chose that particular school and program.
3- Demonstrate your “intention to return”
Have defined plans for when you return to your country of origin, after obtaining your diploma. Having clear intentions for your future shows that you are not going to stay in the U.S. illegally. Instead, show that you have a legitimate desire to study, get your degree, and come back to your country. The more paperwork you can show to back up your plan to return to your country, the better.
4- Wear business attire
Consulate officers have just a few minutes to analyze your visa petition. Make the right impression by wearing a suit, dress, or a skirt and blouse ensemble. Avoid chunky jewelry and revealing outfits. Trim your nails and hair, and in general, try to look like the serious student you are, and the professional you aspire to become.
5- Prove how you’ll finance your studies and living expenses
You must provide evidence that you have the financial means to pay for your tuition, and cover your living expenses. Such evidence will be in your parents' bank statements (or yours), fixed-rate bonds, documents pertaining to a scholarship or sponsorship, and so on.
6- Decide where you’re going to live
You should investigate this topic extensively, and you must have decided on a housing option before having your visa interview. The consular officer may ask you specific questions about this, so, think about the advantages and disadvantages of living in a dorm on campus, a student co-op, renting an off-campus apartment, or living with a host family. Keep in mind that your housing decision should be in accordance with your lifestyle and budget to be credible. Think about your decision beforehand, but don’t make rent or lease payments before you’re granted your visa.
7- Check the name on your I-20 and DS-160 forms
Make sure your name on your I-20 and DS-160 forms is spelled correctly, and in the same order as it appears on your passport. Any difference may cause delays in the process, and can even be a reason for rejection of your student visa application. If you have had your name officially changed, provide documents to evidence legal name change, such as your birth certificate, a name change certificate, adoption papers, marriage certificate, and divorce certificate - if applicable. You must provide certified translations of these legal documents, and of any other official paperwork that supports your student visa petition that is not in English.
8- Get to your visa appointment on time
Make sure to write down the date, time, and place of your visa interview. If possible, practice going to the consulate or embassy where your appointment will be held, so that you know how long it takes you to get there, and to figure out the easiest, shortest and fastest route. The day of your appointment, get ready on time, leave early, and take any possible delays into account. Do not be late for your appointment.
9- Bring all the necessary paperwork, and keep it organized
Bring all your paperwork neatly organized in a folder or manila envelope. Remember that you should bring documents that demonstrate all the aspects we’ve mentioned: diplomas, certificates, test scores, the letter of acceptance and I-20 form issued by your school of choice, and others that prove your genuine intention to study in the U.S. Don’t forget to include any documents that show your ties to your country, and your plan to return after you have finished your education, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates of any children you may have, mortgage paperwork, and others.
Keep in mind that you need to provide a certified translation of the documents for your U.S. student visa application, in case they’re not in English. Visit this page for specific details about the necessary paperwork for a student visa application.
There you have it, nine quick tips that you can use to successfully apply for a student visa in the United States. Now, get everything ready, and pack your bags for the most unforgettable experience of your life!
- To be able to apply for your student visa, your school should be certified by the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Check the following page to find out if the school you want to apply for is SEVP-approved: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/school-search
- Visit this page to find out the location of the U.S. Embassy, and the expected waiting time for a visa in your country: http://www.usembassy.gov/
- For more information about studying in the U.S., visit https://educationusa.state.gov/