Things to do for your US VISA Application and Interview

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visa

When you plan to study in USA, one of the major things that comes as a hurdle to you is the US Visa Application. Its considered to be one of the last steps that you need to take for going to the United States. So this post will focus towards all the necessary things that you should do towards your US Visa Application which is popularly known as F-1 Visa Interview.

Please read the entire post as it would help you a lot. The post is big but it contains important information that you should know.

Things to do for your US VISA Application and Interview

Step 1: Booking your Visa date –

As a student you would be applying for the F1 visa. You will need the I-20 from the university you want to study at, to book a date.

1. Complete the DS-160 form. Refer the following link for the DS-160 form: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-ds160info.asp. The link to the actual form is available at the bottom of this page. You  do  not  need  to  upload  your  photo  in  the  DS160  form.  Your  photo  (& fingerprints) will be taken during your OFC appointment (details given in point 4). Note: In case you make a mistake in the  DS-160 form (which you realize after submitting the form), just fill and submit a new DS-160 form.

2.  Create a profile at  http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/index.html. To do so, click on the  ‘Apply  Now’  button  on  the  site  to  create  your profile.  Fill  in the  required information till you come to the payment page.

3.  Pay your VISA Application fees. You  can pay this online (online payment receipt takes 2 days to get activated) or you can pay it at Axis Bank or Citibank (the receipt is activated generally the same day). Refer  http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-paymentinfo.asp. Before going to the bank, you must print and carry the applicable U.S. visa fee collection slip available after logging into your profile. The exact fee amount is given here http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visafeeinfo.asp

4.  Book your dates. Continue with the booking of the visa date  by logging into your account. You will be asked to book 2 dates

A:  OFC  (Offsite  Facilitation  Center)  Appointment  – where  you will  be  only be fingerprinted and photographed.  This is not an interview, but just an administrative process. You will need to carry the following documents for the OFC appointment.

  • Passport (which does not expire at least for 6 months from the start of your course)
  • Appointment confirmation letter
  • DS 160 Confirmation page
  • I-20
  • Copy of the first page (biographic) and the observation & remarks page of the passport (this is usually the last but one page)

B: Visa interview appointment.

You can select your dates according to your convenience, with the OFC date at least a day prior to the visa date.

5.  Pay your SEVIS Fee. All students have to pay the SEVIS fee. This fee has to be paid at least three working days prior to the actual visa date.

NOTE: You do NOT have to pay the SEVIS fee to book your visa date.

To pay the SEVIS fee you will have to visit the website  www.fmjfee.com. Here you will have to fill the I-901 form and pay $200 as SEVIS fee. Print the receipt  (I-901 form) that you get after paying the fees.

While paying the fees, the site gives you an option for an expedited receipt delivery of the payment receipt at an additional payment of $35. You need  NOT avail this service.  Just  print  the  online  receipt  that  you  receive  on  confirmation  of  the payment and that is sufficient. You do NOT require the original receipt.

You can print the SEVIS receipt immediately or it can be printed later by accessing your SEVIS payment information online.

Note: If you do not have a printer  readily available, you can email yourself the  DS-160 confirmation page, appointment letters etc and can print it later.

Black and White printouts are fine (of the DS 160 confirmation page, appointment letters, SEVIS payment receipt). You do NOT need a color printout.

You will need to finalize the university before you submit the DS 160 form and or pay the SEVIS fee.

If a date is not available online, don’t worry. You can always get a convenient date by trying later. Dates generally open up only 3 to 4 weeks in advance. You can check the approximate  visa available  dates  at   http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-waittimeinfo.asp

Submitting documents to the VFS office is no longer needed (as was required prior to Sep 2012)

You cannot appear for your visa interview more than 120 days before the start date on your program (as mentioned in the ‘No later than’ date on the I-20). You will not be allowed to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date as on your I-20

Part 2: Showing how you plan to finance your education

Step 2: Deciding on your financials.

The most common ways that you can sponsor your education is

  • Education Loan
  • Funds from family (parents/grandparents/ brother/sister etc)

Educational Loan

If you are planning on availing an education loan, please visit your local bank and ask them  about the  educational  loan procedures.  Visit 3 to 4 different  banks to find out their  requirements  and interest  rates.  An  educational  loan can be obtained  from a branch that is closet to your area of residence. Most banks offer a loan up to Rs 20 to 25

Lakhs  (against  collateral  security) and  between  Rs 4  to  7  Lakhs  without  collateral security. You need not have an account with a bank to obtain an educational loan.

Funds from Parents/Family

To demonstrate  how much funds are available with your family to support you, please see the document ‘Sample Financial Statement’ below. Prepare a statement  similar to this. You do NOT have to get this certified from your Chartered Accountant (CA).

Documents needed during the Visa: Mandatory Documents:

  • Passport
  • I-20
  • DS-160 Confirmation page
  • Visa Appointment letter
  • Photograph (most consulates don’t need this anymore, but the site recommends that you carry one. The photo should be as per the US visa specifications)
  • Copy of the first page (biographic) and the observation & remarks page of the passport (this is usually the last but one page)
  • SEVIS Fee payment confirmation page

Other Documents:

  • Proof of funds (whichever are applicable in your case) Loan approval and/or application letter.
  • Your Bank Passbooks or Monthly/quarterly Bank Account transaction statements (in case your bank does not issue a passbook). The statements/passbooks should show transactions for the past 3 to 4 months (preferably 6 months).
  • All original fixed deposit receipts that you have.
  • A statement of your Demat account showing the shares/mutual funds you own and their current market value.
  • Originals of NSC/NSS certificates, PPF passbooks etc
  • Tax returns for the past three years (at least two years) of your sponsor.
  • Two  to  three  recent  salary  slips of  your  sponsor  (in case  your  sponsor  is employed)
  • Your sponsors (if other than parents) will have to prepare an affidavit on Rs 100 stamp paper. See the sample document  ‘Financial Support Document – Parent letter to Visa Officer’ below. You do not need an affidavit, if your parents are your only sponsors.

Scholarships/Assistantships from the university

If the university has awarded you a scholarship/assistantship and it is already mentioned on your I-20 then its fine. In the university made your funding decision after issuing an I-

20, and the funding from the university does not reflect on your I-20, then you will have to carry the official letter from the university indicating their decision. If the department  has informed their decision over email please request them to send you an official letter (by email).

IMP: The amount of funds available to you for your education in the form of Loan, Family support and Scholarships/Assistantships should be sufficient enough  to cover the tuition/fees plus living expense for the entire duration of your education. That is

  • Loan
  • + Funds from University
  • + Money in savings/current account of sponsor
  • + FDs
  • + Demat (shares) valuation
  • + Any other financial investments (NSC/NSS etc, except insurance)

Should be definitely MORE than the total estimated expenses

IMPORTANT: There  are  no standard guidelines on HOW MUCH funds you need  to show  for your  visa. Just  because  you can show funds,  does  not  guarantee a visa. Similarly not  showing funds  does  mean  that your visa would  be  denied.  Visa are granted based on the visa officers evaluation of the important factors:

  1. Your preparedness and understanding of the course/program you are planning to pursue
  2. Your ability to  convince  the  visa  officer  about   your  affordability  of  the program.

This is mentioned on the FAQ page of the US Consulate Mumbai site

How do I prove I can pay for the program? What financial documents  will you review?

Financial   documents   are   not   required   for   visa   interviews.   Officers   often   do not review documents.  All  student  applicants  should  be  prepared  to  clearly explain financing for their  studies. Documents are  not  forbidden,  and  may on  occasion be reviewed by the interviewing consular officer.

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