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5 Top Tips When Applying for a US Student Visa

By Guest Writer

Updated February 2, 2015 Updated February 2, 2015

Guest post: Romona Paden

Your journey toward studying in the US begins with your US student visa application. A US student visa is a document that allows a person to live and study in the US, and all foreign students must have one. 

The student visa application process starts at the US Embassy or Consulate located in your country. Each facility has its own variation on the visa application process and you’ll want to check out the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website for your native country. Even though you can apply for a US student visa through any embassy or consulate in the world, requesting a visa from outside the country of your permanent residence will most likely complicate the process.  

Foreign students accepted to study in the US at an academic school (as opposed to a trade school) will receive a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students, which allows them to begin the student visa application process. Be sure to begin the application well in advance of your first day of study in the US. According to guidelines from the Department of State, students should plan to start the process within 120 days of receiving their I-20. 

Get started by completing the online visa application. You’ll be required to upload a recent photo as part of the application. Be sure to print off the application form confirmation page. You will need this page during your visa interview. 

As you move forward in your US student visa application, here are a few additional tips to keep in mind: 

1. Plan ahead.

Schedule an appointment with the embassy or consulate where your application will be reviewed. Summer breaks and winter holidays tend to be busy times, so foresighted planning on your part may be essential to ensure you get an appointment at the time you need one.  

2. Have your paperwork ready. 

Paperwork that you will need for your US student visa application includes: copies of your application, receipts for the visa application fee payment and the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee payment. Make sure you also have a valid passport and supporting information, such as your school acceptance notification and transcripts.  

3. Prove that you intend to return home.

Be prepared to show that you have no interest in disobeying US immigration law. US law requires applications for non-immigrant visas to be viewed with skepticism and applicants must show that ties to their home countries are strong enough that they are not just using the student visa to gain access to the United States. Ties to your home country can be demonstrated through things like family bonds, financial interests and employment.  

4. Articulate your ambitions.

Show that you really know and care about the academic or vocational program to which you have been admitted, and display an understanding of how it fits into your career plans. Your ability to articulate the relationship between school and career is critical in convincing the consular official that your intention is to study in the US, not to immigrate.  

5. Practice your English language skills.

Practice your English speaking skills so that you can provide clear and concise information to the consular official. Your ability to communicate effectively with officials helps in moving your student visa application toward approval.  

Romona Paden is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics that include business, finance, politics, life and trends. Through her posts on the ImmigrationDirect.com blog, Romona works to bring clarity and focus to topics viewed through the lens of immigration.

This article was originally published in July 2014 . It was last updated in February 2015

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