Applying for Your US Student Visa: Essential FAQs Answered!

There are two categories of student visas: F1 and M1. The M1 visa is given for non-academic or vocational education for a duration of less than a year, and it includes fields such as gemology, aviation etc. F1 visa is given for a full-time program leading to a degree such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, which lasts at least one year. In this blog, we will discuss about the F1 visa. Below are a few important and frequently asked questions.

a) Where can you apply for an F1 visa?

Before COVID-19, applicants could only apply for appointments at the consulate closer to their residence. For example, applicants residing in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh could only apply to the US Consulate – Mumbai.

But now, there is no such restriction. You are allowed to apply to any Consulate where the appointment dates are available. Sometimes, you may get an appointment for OFC at one consulate and a visa interview at another.

The current visa application fee is $185, payable in INR 15540/-.

b) When will appointments for F1 visas begin for Fall 2024 applicants?

Applicants can apply for an F1 visa within 365 days of the course’s start date mentioned on the I-20. In other words, to ensure you get an early and timely date, you may apply for a visa as soon as you receive an I-20 from any university. Every year, the US consulate tries to accommodate all the students intending to apply for an F1 visa. However, since the number of students applying for visas is quite large, it becomes difficult to get an interview date if they apply in July or August. Therefore, it is advisable that students apply for the interview date as soon as they receive the I-20 from any university.  

Later, if you receive an I-20 from the desired university, you can fill out a new DS-160 mentioning the name of the new university. You must bring the original DS-160 confirmation page you have used to schedule your appointment AND the corrected DS-160 confirmation page to the consulate or document drop-off location on the day of your appointment. If you are unable to bring your original DS-160 confirmation page and your corrected DS-160 confirmation page, you must cancel and reschedule your appointment by entering your corrected DS-160 application number.

Still figuring out which universities to apply to and their deadlines? Here’s a Complete Guide to Fall 2024 MS Program Application Deadlines

c) What is an I-20 form and how do I obtain it?

The Form I-20 is an official US Government form issued by a certified school, which a prospective non-immigrant student must have to get an F-1 or M-1 visa. Form I-20 acts as proof of acceptance and contains the information necessary to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, apply for a visa and be admitted into the United States. Form I-20 has the student’s SEVIS identification number, which starts with the letter N followed by 10 digits, on the top left-hand side.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information Service (SEVIS) has been introduced by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IMS) for students. Before appearing for an F1 visa interview at the consulate, you need to pay SEVIS charges of US $350.

d) If my visa was rejected the first time, can I reapply for it?

Students are allowed to reapply as many as they want.

e) What is the Dropbox facility (Interview Waiver)?

With effect from 1st January 2024, if you have any other valid US visa except a B1/B2 Visa, then you are eligible for a visa through Dropbox, which is nothing but a visa interview waiver that allows eligible individuals to obtain a visa without a face-to-face interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Instead, these applicants can submit the required documentation at a designated Dropbox location.

To become eligible for the Dropbox facility,

  • The visa has to be issued after 1st January 2008
  • The visa should be issued after your 14th birthday.

If your visa has already expired, you can avail of the Dropbox facility, provided your visa expired not more than 4 years ago.

f) How long will it take to receive my passport if I apply for the F1 visa through Dropbox?

You are likely to receive your passport within 7 working days.

g) How to book an F1 Visa appointment?

  • Fill up the D-160 form
  • Create a profile on www.ustraveldocs.com
  • Choose the schedule appointment option and select visa type (Non-immigrant)
  • Follow all the instructions given on the website

Ready to take the next step towards your US academic journey? Contact us today to explore our exclusive USA visa counseling services. Our Services consist of the following:

  1. webinar providing detailed information about the Visa process and guidelines
  2. help with the preparation of financial documents
  3. one-on-one appointment with Mr. Dilip Oak for a mock visa interview.

You are also eligible to attend the pre-departure orientation program organized in June.

To enroll, call us at 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

F1 Visa: Basics and application process

The United States administration offers a variety of non-immigrant visas for foreign nationals. For instance, the United States issues B-1/B-2 visa to visitors and businessmen, and H-1B visas to those who have been granted permission to work in the country. An M-1 visa is issued to students enrolling in short-term vocational programs like flight schools, language institutes, etc. However, students going to an accredited university for a full-time academic program, require an F-1 visa stamp.

Currently, student visas are being processed faster than other types. Those who already hold a B1/B2 visa can obtain a visa by appearing for VFS appointment and by submitting their application via drop box. In other words, they get an interview exemption.
Students are allowed to apply for the F-1 visa 365 days before the start date of the program mentioned on their I-20 form. The I-20 form is an official document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The following important details are mentioned in the document:

  • the name as printed on the passport of the student
  • the name of the university which the student is joining
  • the program to which the student has been admitted
  • the date of commencement of the program
  • the date by which the program has to be completed
  • the total cost of education for one year.

The fall 2023 semester generally begins in the third week of August. So, if you plan to attend an American university this fall, you can begin applying for your visa now.

How to Apply for an F1 Visa?

  • Get your I-20 from the SEVP institution
  • Apply online by filling the DS-160 form
  • Pay the general visa application fee ($160)
  • Pay the SEVIS fee ($350)
  • Schedule your OFC appointment followed by F1 visa interview date
  • Attend the F1 visa interview on the scheduled date

Keep in mind that you should have adequate liquid funds to cover the total cost of one year of education – this is mentioned in the I-20 form. Many students are under the wrong impression that their sponsor needs to deposit this entire amount in the bank and that otherwise their visa can be rejected. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the case. Bank deposits (savings, fixed deposits) and other liquid assets like shares, mutual funds, Public provident fund and employee provident fund etc. education loans are all acceptable forms to prove financial capability. The following are additional points are also taken into consideration by the consulate officer:

  • Accreditation and reputation of the university to which you have been admitted (this shouldn’t be an issue if you go through Dilip Oak’s academy; we only recommend accredited universities)
  • your academic background is good along with a satisfactory GRE score
  • Annual income and financial stability of your sponsor
  • Your communication skills along with your ability to give convincing and honest answers to the consulate officer’s questions

If your Visa Application gets rejected in the first attempt, you can apply again. You have to go through the same process again, except the SEVIS fee.
Start preparing your financial documents now and apply for an F-1 visa as soon as you get your I-20 form from the university you desire to attend. 

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we provide detailed guidance on these processes under our Admission Counseling Services  that include, selection of universities, documentation process and visa counselling along with mock visa interviews. As India’s leading Study Abroad Consultants, we have helped more than 30,000 students to secure their dream-admits for various universities in America including MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and other top-ranked universities.
We also offer GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS coaching, GRE Self Prep and guide students with university selection, application essays, and visa counseling under our Admission Counseling Services for USA, Germany and UK. To enroll, call us on 91-020-67444222, 91-8007878495.

FAQs on F1 Visa appointments for Fall 2022

To help you get a fair idea of the current scenario regarding the F1 visa appointments, below are a few important and frequently asked questions and their responses as per the recent update from the US Embassy.

1) When will appointments for F1 visas begin for fall 2022 applicants?

F1 appointments for fresh applicants will most probably start from 17th May. Initially, they will open appointments till the end of June. This year, they will accommodate all the students intending to apply for an F1 visa for fall 2022. Therefore, students are requested to not panic and apply for the interview date only after they receive the I-20 from the desired university.  Also, we suggest that you take the visa appointment in Mumbai rather than in Delhi or Chennai.

2) If my visa was rejected the first time, when can I apply for the interview next?

They will most probably give a second chance to rejected applicants between 15th August to 1st September.

3) If I have any other US visa (B1/B2/H1/H4/L1/L2) which has expired, can I still get a drop box facility for an F1 visa?

Yes, you can, provided your visa expired not more than 4 years ago.

4) If I apply for the F1 visa through drop box, how long will it take to receive my passport?

You are likely to receive your passport within 7 working days.

5) Can I make changes to the already submitted DS-160?

Yes, you can make all the necessary corrections including the name of the university.

6) Do I need to show the same financial documents for the visa interview which I submitted during the application process?

 No, your documents cannot be the same. For visa interview, you mainly need to carry the latest documents including bank statement, fixed deposit receipts, loan sanction letter etc.

7) What are the vaccination requirements before landing in America?

As per the CDC regulation, you need to be double vaccinated and you are required to take the RT-PCR 24 hours before boarding the flight.

For further guidance related to :

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments
  • document verification

You can enroll for our visa counseling services and also avail of a mock visa interview appointment with Mr. Dilip Oak. To enroll, call us on 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

F1 visa interviews to begin mid-May

Most of you have received admits from the universities and are now in the crucial phase of visa application. Here is a quick look at the visa process, chronologically.

According to the recent update from the US Embassy in Delhi, visa interviews for students will begin in mid-May.

However, the embassy has also stated that Indian applicants are unlikely to get a second or third chance if the visa is not approved in the first interview. You are therefore requested to keep checking the website for visa dates and thoroughly prepare for the visa interview.

If thorough guidance related to :

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees or
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments
  • document verification

you can also enroll for our visa counselling services and along with the above mentioned services, also avail of mock visa interview appointment with Mr. Dilip Oak. To enroll, call us on 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

US Student visa update 

Most of you have received admits from the universities and are now in the crucial phase of visa application. Here is a quick look at the visa process, chronologically.

  1. filling the DS-160 form
  2. paying the visa fees
  3. scheduling appointments for:
    a) submitting biometric data and documents at the Offsite Facilitation Centre and
    b) the Visa Interview

At the moment, many students are not able to get visa appointments and are confused as to how to proceed further. According to the recent update, the US Consulate has declared that students who have been previously issued any kind of US visa (B1/B2/L1/L2/H1-B/H4) can avail of the dropbox facility to expedite the process. 
The student has to login into his/her account on www.ustraveldocs.com, and answer a few questions to be eligible to avail of the dropbox facility. Following this, the student can directly book the OFC appointment. If the appointment goes well, the student will be directly issued the F1 visa within a week. 

If you have any queries related to:

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees or
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments

these can be made at:

You can also contact us at the academy for any visa-related guidance and attend our LIVE visa workshop (webinar) by Mr.Dilip Oak on 17th April, 9 am to get in-depth assistance on the visa process. Register here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

US Student visa update 

Most of you have received admits from the universities and are now in the crucial phase of visa application. Here is a quick look at the visa process, chronologically.

  1. filling the DS-160 form
  2. paying the visa fees
  3. scheduling appointments for:
    a) submitting biometric data and documents at the Offsite Facilitation Centre and
    b) the Visa Interview

At the moment, many students are not able to get visa appointments and are confused as to how to proceed further. According to the recent update, the US Consulate has declared that students who have been previously issued any kind of US visa (B1/B2/L1/L2/H1-B/H4) can avail of the dropbox facility to expedite the process. 
The student has to login into his/her account on www.ustraveldocs.com, and answer a few questions to be eligible to avail of the dropbox facility. Following this, the student can directly book the OFC appointment. If the appointment goes well, the student will be directly issued the F1 visa within a week. 

If you have any queries related to:

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees or
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments

these can be made at:

You can also contact us at the academy for any visa-related guidance and attend our LIVE visa workshop (webinar) by Mr.Dilip Oak on 17th April, 9 am to get in-depth assistance on the visa process. Register here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

F1 Visa: Top 13 Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 What is an form I-20 and how do I obtain it?

The Form I-20 is an official US Government form, issued by a certified school, which a prospective non-immigrant student must have in order to get an F-1 or M-1 visa. Form I-20 acts as proof-of-acceptance and contains the information necessary to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, apply for a visa, or change visa status, and be admitted into the United States. The Form I-20 has the student’s SEVIS identification number, which starts with the letter N followed by 10 digits, on the top left-hand side.

Q.2 How early should I apply for my student (F1) visa?

You are encouraged to apply for your nonimmigrant student visa as soon as you have your I-20. To ensure you get an early and timely date you may apply at anytime. However, a student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20.

Q.3 I received my visa, when should I travel?

You may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the course of study stated on your I-20 form, regardless of when your visa was issued.

Q.4 What if I receive the I-20 form to a different school?

If you receive an I-20 form after scheduling your appointment, then you can inform the US consular officer of the new I-20 form at the time of the interview.

Q.5 I was working on an H-1B visa and have now been admitted to a university as an F-1. Do I need to return to my country to apply for a student visa?

No. Once you are in the United States, you do not need to apply for a new visa because the visa is only for entry into the United States. Check with USCIS to determine if you need to adjust the status of your existing visa. If you leave the country, however, you’ll need to apply for the student visa in order to re-enter the United States.

Q.6 What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrolment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Student visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. Applicants are then required to provide the SEVIS I-901 fee receipt as proof of payment. The SEVIS website has more details on this.

Q.7 Can an F-1 student work in the United States?

Full-time students on F visas may seek on-campus employment not to exceed 20 hours per week. After the first year in student status, an applicant may apply for employment off campus with authorization from USCIS.

Q.8 Can my dependents apply for a tourist visa instead of dependent visa if they only want to visit me and stay in U.S. for a short period of time?

Yes, they can apply for a Tourist visa.

Q.9 How do I read and understand my visa?

As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure all your personal information printed on the visa is correct. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport, or is otherwise incorrect, please contact the issuing authority (i.e. the US Embassy) immediately.

The expiry date of your visa is the last day you may use the visa to enter the United States. It does not indicate how long you may stay in the United States. Your stay is determined by the Department of Homeland Security at your port of entry. As long as you comply with the Department of Homeland Security decision on the conditions of your stay, you should have no problem. Further information about interpreting your visa can be found at the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website.

Q.10 My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?

No. You may stay in the US for the period of time and conditions authorised by the Department of Homeland Security officer when you arrived in the US, which will be noted on the I-94, even if your visa expires during your stay.

Q.11 What address should I mention on Form DS-160, if my current home address and my address on the passport is not the same?

You must mention your current home address in India and not the address printed on your passport.

Q.12 What if I receive an I-20 from a better university after getting the F1 visa?

If you have obtained your visa and need to change the name of the university on your visa, you have to go through the complete process once again by scheduling a new appointment after paying the application fee and service charges.

Q.13 Is there a quota for the number of student visas issued each year?

No. All qualified students receive visas.

For detailed guidance, avail of our visa counselling services by attending our Visa workshop webinar on 27th February at 9:00 am. 

If you are not already an Admission Counselling student at the academy, register for the webinar here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

Once you pay and enroll, you will receive the zoom registration link shortly.

US Student Visa: Basics and application process

The US government issues different types of non-immigrant visas.  For example, tourists and business-men are issued B-1/ B-2 visas and those authorized to work in the US are given an H-1B visa. Students going for vocational courses for shorter duration such as, in flying schools,  English language courses etc. get an M-1 visa.

However, most students going to an accredited university for a full-time academic program, require an F-1 visa stamp.

Students are allowed to apply for the F-1 visa 120 days before the date of reporting mentioned on their I-20 form. The I-20 form is an official document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The following important details are mentioned in the document:

  • the name and passport number of the student
  • the name of the university which the student is joining
  • the program to which the student has been admitted
  • the date of commencement of the program
  • the date by which the program has to be completed
  • the total cost of education for one year.

The fall 2022 semester will begin sometime in the third week of August. So, if you plan to join an American university this fall, you can start applying for your visa from the third week of April.

How to Apply for an F1 Visa?

  • Get your I-20 from the SEVP institution
  • Apply online by filling the DS-160 form
  • Pay the general visa application fee ($160)
  • Pay the SEVIS  fee ($350)
  • Schedule your OFC appointment and F1 visa interview
  • Attend the F1 visa interview on the scheduled date

Keep in mind that you should have adequate liquid funds to cover the total cost of one year of education – this is mentioned in the I-20 form. Many students are under the wrong impression that their sponsor needs to deposit this entire amount in the bank and that otherwise their visa can be rejected. This is not true. Funds can be shown in the form of bank deposits as well as other liquid assets including education loans. Of course, having adequate funds alone does not guarantee a visa approval. The consulate officer also considers the following points:

  • whether you have admission to an accredited and reputed university
  • whether your academic background is good
  • whether your GRE score is satisfactory
  • whether your sponsor’s income is adequate

You should also have good communication skills and should be able to give convincing and honest answers to the consulate officer’s questions.

Start preparing your financial documents now and apply for an F-1 visa as soon as you get your I-20 form from the university you desire to attend. 

For detailed guidance, avail of our visa counselling services by attending our visa workshop webinar on 20th February or 27th February at 9:00 am. 

If you are not already an Admission Counselling student at the academy, register here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

Once you pay and enroll, you will receive the zoom registration link shortly.

Lockdown Dilemma : Go For Online Semester or Request a Deferral?

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, most of the US universities are currently offering two options to fall 2020 students:

1) Online semester for fall 2020 and regular on-campus coaching from spring 2021

2) Deferral to spring 2021/fall 2021

Now as you are aware, the situation is indeed gruesome in the United States where the number of corona patients is increasing every day and there is no clarity on when the pandemic will be arrested and things will normalize.  Under such circumstances, it is obvious for the universities to offer deferrals or move to online teaching as a precautionary measure.

However, as Indian students, here are a few things you must take into consideration before making any decision:

Feasibility of online semester

  • Even for the online medium, students will have to pay full tuition fees for the full semester. (Some universities may reduce fees by 20 to 25 percent)
  • Online semester will mean no financial assistance, no campus jobs/RA/TA which then makes the course unnecessarily expensive to bear.
  • Online semester does not offer the exposure and opportunities that a student otherwise gets while on campus.
  • There are certain limitations to online coaching since the interaction is usually limited as compared to classroom coaching.
  • In any case, students will have to apply for the F1 visa for spring 2021 and in the worst circumstances, if the visa gets rejected; the entire amount spent on the online fall semester goes waste.

Current visa scenario

  • The US consulate has been non-operational since March 16 and there is no clarity when it will resume operations. Once it resumes, there will be a tremendous rush for visas and the situation will become chaotic. (Though it is quite possible that the consulate will give priority to student visas.)

Taking all these factors into account, we recommend that you get in touch with the concerned university official and request time till the end of May to make the final decision of deferral.

Coronavirus Lockdown: US Student Visas and Admission Deferral Updates – Part 3

With the rising number of patients in the United States and the lockdown declared in India, there is no clarity on when the consulates will start processing the visas again. Considering this, it is anticipated that there will be a backlog of visa interviews and many prospective fall 2020 students are panicking whether they will get their visas in time.

Though the consulates are positive of issuing visas on time, many universities in the US have begun offering deferrals in case situations do not improve until August 2020 and students need to postpone their travel and join the course later in Spring. 

As per our latest correspondence, the Offices of International Admissions of most universities have offered deferral for students from one semester up to one year. 

All the fall 2020 undergraduates can get deferral to spring 2021. The graduate deferral, however, can only be offered by the program coordinator. Students are therefore required to connect with the graduate advisors of respective universities since not all units (programs) are offered deferrals. 

Though most universities are offering deferrals up to one year, they are encouraging students to not defer at the moment and wait until May. 

For students who are in the middle of their semester in the US but are currently in India, can fly back to the States once the travel ban is lifted and more so, after obtaining clearance from the US Consulate. For regular updates, visit the DHS and consulate websites.

Important links: 

https://www.dhs.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-news-updates

https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/

The F1 Visa Process

Most of you have received admits from the universities and are now in the crucial phase of visa application. Here is a quick look at the visa process, chronologically.

 

1. filling in the DS 160 form
2. paying the visa fees
3. scheduling appointments for:
a) submitting biometric data and documents at the Offsite Facilitation Centre and
b) the Visa Interview
4. post visa interview

1. Online Filling of the DS 160 Form
The first step is to fill the DS 160 form online. Filling the form generates a CONFIRMATION NUMBER. You will require this number to print the ‘Receipt of Payment’ (which, in this case, is printed out before you make any payment!) since it contains the CGI reference number that is required if you are going to pay the visa fees in cash.

2. Payment of Visa Fees
You can now pay the visa fees by:
1. Electronic Fund Transfer
2. Mobile Phone
3. Cash payment at any Axis bank branch (there are over 1800 branches across the country) If you make cash payment of the fees (recommended), be sure to take along the ‘Receipt of Payment’ that you printed out earlier. The bank will need to see the ‘CGI Reference Number’ on it when you go to pay the visa fees. If you fail to produce the ‘Receipt of Payment’ the bank will not accept your visa fees.

3. Scheduling the Appointments
You can schedule appointments only after the receipt is ‘activated.’ Usually, this takes an hour. Once the receipt has been activated, you will have to schedule two appointments:
1. Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) – this appointment is for you to submit fingerprints of all ten fingers, photographs (digital and physical) and required documents. This appointment has to be scheduled at least one day prior to the visa interview date.
2. Visa Interview – this is the actual visa interview appointment.
Note:
1. You cannot appear for both appointments on the same date; and appointments for consecutive dates may not always be available. There have been instances where there is one whole week between the OFC appointment and the appointment for the interview. If that happens to you, you will have to make two trips to the consulate.
2. After the visa has been granted the passport is couriered to the home address (this facility is available for select cities only) or can be collected from the VFS center nearest to the home city.

4. Post Visa Interview
After you have been granted the US visa you can track your passport to check if it is ready for pick-up.
Once the passport is delivered at the pick-up centre you can collect it in person. In case you are unable to collect it, you may send your family member to collect it on your behalf along with your ID proof. Instructions on passport pick-up can be found HERE

If you have any queries related to:

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees or
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments

these can be made at:

  • Email: support-india@ustraveldocs.com
  • Telephone: +91-120 – 4844644 or +91 40 46258222
  • Skype: user name: ustraveldocs-india
  • Online Chat: www.ustraveldocs.com

TIMINGS:
Monday-Friday: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

The Student or F-1 Visa All the Basics Simply Explained

 

Visas explained

The US government issues more than 30 different types of visa. For example, tourists and business-men are issued B-1 or B-2 visas and those authorized to work in US are given an H-1B visa. Students going for vocational courses, such as, in flying schools or English language courses get an M-1 visa. However, most students require an F-1 visa stamp.
This is the most commonly issued type of visa for students going to an accredited university for a full-time academic program lasting for one or more years.

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