So, you’ve made the big decision to study abroad! You’ve asked friends and family about their experience and you’re ready to pack your bags. After doing research you find out that in order to study full-time in the US you will need a student visa. This process might seem daunting and almost unattainable. Fear not, we will guide you through the process on how to apply for a student visa.
For starters, there are two types of student visas, the F-1 Student Visa and the M-1 Student Visa. The F-1 Visa focuses on academics and allows you to enter the US as a full-time student to an accredited language school, university, college or other academic institutions. While the M-1 visa focuses on vocational studies or other nonacademic programs. This visa would not allow you to study at a language school or university. In this article, we will focus on the F-1 Student Visa as it is the most sought after visa for higher education and long-term studies.
What Will I Need Before Applying?
First of all, you will need a valid passport issued from your home country. Your passport cannot expire during or shortly after your program end date. If your passport is about to expire it is time to renew it. Secondly, you will need to show sufficient money in your or your sponsor’s bank account to support yourself during your stay. Basically, having money in your bank account lets the school and government officials know you are able to study full-time without the need to work. As we know, the main purpose of the student visa is well, to study! If you have any dependents who will come with you it will be necessary to show additional funds in your bank statement. We will go over the exact amount later on.
How to Apply for a Student Visa?
Now for what you came for. Here is a guide on how to obtain a student visa. We will make this very simple and well hopefully less daunting.
Step 1: Apply to a SEVP-approved school in the US to get an I-20 Form
Each school’s requirements vary slightly as such we will go over the requirements at our schools. You will first need an I-20 Form (“Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”) in order to apply for a student visa. The following documents are required for us to issue your I-20 Form:
- Fill in our Student Application Form
- Copy of valid passport (which we previously mentioned). If you are applying with dependents then the passport copies of each qualified dependent will be needed.
- Copy of a bank statement showing sufficient funds for the period of study
How much money will I need to show?
- $2,200 USD for 4 weeks of studies
- $5,500 USD for 10 weeks of studies
- $11,000 USD for 20 weeks of studies
- $22,000 USD for 40 weeks of studies
- Note: it would be an additional $1,000 per month per dependent
What if I do not have all this money in my bank account?
You will need what is called a Sponsor. Someone that will be held financially responsible for you during your stay in the US as an international student. In this case, you would need to show your Sponsor’s bank statement and we will need one additional document called the Affidavit of Support.
What is an Affidavit of Support?
A document that an individual (the Sponsor) signs agreeing to use their financial resources to support the potential international student.
- Pay the school’s application fees. At OHLA Schools, we only charge $200 USD to issue an I-20.
Once you have gathered all these documents, the school will typically issue the I-20 Form in 3-4 business days if you have been approved. This is an important document you must keep safely. Once you have your I-20 Form we can go to Step 2.
Step 2: Pay the US Government the I-901 SEVIS Fee
Currently, the SEVIS fee is $350 USD for F-1 visa students. This payment can be done online through the following link: https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.html. In order to pay the SEVIS fee, all prospective students will need to provide their:
- Personal Information like name, address, date of birth, country of birth etc
- School Code as listed on the I-20 Form
- Student SEVIS ID Number as listed on the I-20 Form
Once you have paid SEVIS, it is important that you print out the confirmation of payment as you will need it for your visa appointment.
Step 3: Search for the Nearest US Embassy to you
Although you cannot make the appointment just yet, you will need to know which US embassy or consulate is closest to you for the next step.
Step 4: Complete the DS-160 Form Electronically
Also known as “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form”. This must be completed for every new visa application. On the DS-160 you will select the US embassy where you wish to have the interview. Good thing you looked this up beforehand! Once you have completed and submitted your DS-160 application we can move to the next step.
Step 5: Schedule you Visa Interview
Now that you have submitted your DS-160 Form, contact the US embassy you have selected and schedule the closest visa interview date. Lastly, you will need to pay the US embassy application fee (currently $160 USD). Speak to your local embassy to find out when you should pay for the application fee. Like with all payments done, it is important to bring a copy of the receipt to take with you.
Step 6: Be Prepared and Attend your Visa Interview
Finally, you did it! You are now fully ready to present yourself for the F-1 Student Visa interview. Bring all the documents and receipts with you to your appointment. Here is a recap of the documents you will need:
- One copy of your visa photograph (this may be required)
- Printed DS-160 confirmation page
- Printed I-901 SEVIS fee confirmation page
- Visa application fee payment receipt (only needed if payment was required before interview)
- I-20 Form
- Financial support documents
Keep in mind, each US embassy provides a list of documents an applicant should have during the interview. Make sure you check it and you go with all required information.
Now you will just need to go well prepared to your interview with plenty reasons for why you would like to study English in the US. It is also important to pick a well-respected English school as the school’s standing can affect your chances of visa approval. Now it is a game of patience, you will need to wait and see if you have been approved or not. Once you have been approved, you can officially pack your bags and hop on a flight to sunny Florida. You can enter the US within 30 days of your program start date.
Study at the Best English School in Florida with 24+ years of experience. Learn more at www.ohla.com and get in touch with one of our many Student Advisors who will help you every step of the way.
When you’re ready to go, OHLA Schools is here to welcome you.