If, as an international student, you intend proceeding to the United States in perusal of further education, the only issue you will need to presently overcome is completion of some minor paperwork, before this desire is fulfilled. Whether you aim to make Harvard your ultimate destination or are more inclined towards a popular cosmetology school, international students desirous of pursuing their education in the United States must first apply for and obtain an exchange or student visa. In this perspective, it is essential for you to be adequately informed about the process involved in obtaining a student visa.
In principal, student visas come in two primary types, each type with slightly varying basic requirements. International students planning to attend an accredited English language school, college, or university in the US, require either a J-1 or an F-1 visa. Students directly involved in pursuit of non-academic education at vocational or trade institutions in the US need the M-1 visa, while those typically government sponsored, or the ones on an exchange program of one year or a semester need the F-1 visa. Though stipulations for either visa type vary slightly, both visas require that students invariably maintain their course load to a full extent.
The first essential step towards your study program in the United States is getting due acceptance into an exchange program or educational institution. Once your acceptance arrives, you will need to raise a financial guarantee that shows you have sufficient funds for attending your selected US educational institution. The financial information provided by you will be reviewed and verified by the concerned institution, before the prescribed Certificate of Eligibility, as DS-2019 for J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa, or Form I-20 for the F-1 Student Visa, is forwarded to you. As soon as you are in receipt of the Certificate of Eligibility, you can make preparations for scheduling an interview for your visa; ensuring that both your applicable visa application and SEVIS fee have been duly paid well before the scheduled date of your interview.
You will next need to complete the form DS-160, or your visa application, that will contain your work history/contact information details. You can obtain both these forms through the US Embassy or US consulate in your locality.
You will further need to provide:
- A passport that remains valid for a minimum period of six months, from the date of your entry into the US
- A passport-size photograph (for photo specifications, visit http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/info/info_1287.html)
- Receipt confirmation of non-refundable visa processing fee (paid through a country-wise specific bank, identified by the Webpage of the US consulate)
- A receipt from SEVIS (details at www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.html)
- Diplomas and transcripts from institutions previously attended by you (not always obligatory)
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