International Student Visas

(via Flickr)
(via Flickr)

This post was contributed by Shaileshkumar Solanki, student at Touro Graduate School of Business.  

I was very excited to study in the U.S.A. I landed at Detroit International Airport on May 20, 2015 at 2.00 pm. As per the rules, I had to complete the formal Port of Entry procedures. It was the biggest interview of my life. My Port of Entry interview has started at 2:30 pm and finished at 8:00 pm (almost 5-6 hours). But based on my documents and the conversation between me and the Immigration office, I successfully landed here. So, based on my experience, I would like to share some information for all the students who want to study in United States of America.

Immigrant Visa: How To Gain Admission?

The first step for study in the U.S.A. is to find the school and program that is best for us. Schools which are certified by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) have authority to accept International Students. Each and every University has their own requirement for documents, and they have their own admission policies. The school will examine our submitted documents, and if we are academically eligible, then they will accept us as an International Students and send an Acceptance Letter. After acceptance, the Designated School Official (DSO) will issue a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Statue called I-20. Our I-20 Record will be maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). When we get I-20 letter we have to make sure it is kept with our Passport.

Suppose we get acceptance from one or more schools. Now we have to pay SEVIS fee called I-901 SEVIS fee.

(via Wikipedia)
(via Wikipedia)

How to Apply for a Visa?

Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. This will normally be our home country — the country in which we live. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. The interviewer will ask for all the necessary documents and verify them. Based on I-20 and submitted documents he/she will ask questions regarding your studies, family details, finance sources, employment details, etc. If the interviewer is satisfied, then our visa will be approved and we will get a passport visa stamp.

Pre-Planning before Arriving

We cannot enter in U.S.A. for the first time as F1 Student before 30 days of the program start date that is listed in the I-20.  The next procedure is Port of Entry. Mostly this is at airport where we first land in U.S.A., and it depends upon our mode of travel. At the time of Port of Entry, we have to keep the below-mentioned documents with us; do not put them in travel luggage bag. These include:

  • Valid Passport with Visa Stamp
  • Form I-20
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Supporting Financial Documents
  • All the Academic Documents.

At the time of Port of Entry we have to plan well to explain our procedure for application from beginning to end, and have to be aware about the distance from where we want to live in U.S.A., how you will go there, and all other basic questions. After successful completion of port of entry, the officer will place an admission stamp in our passport and mention status of our Visa. Now you are set to begin your studies in the U.S.A.

International students at Touro Colleges are encouraged to take advantage of the services provided by the Office for International Students.

Additional Resources:

  1. https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/72/~/immigrant-visas-vs.-nonimmigrant-visas
  2. http://www.internationalstudent.com/immigration/f1-student-visa/
  3. https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/paying-your-i-901-sevis-fee
  4. http://www.internationalstudent.com/immigration/f1-student-visa/
  5. https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment
  6. https://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/page/arriving-us-airport-or-port-entry
  7. https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student.html
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