US Student Visa For Indians
The US allows students throughout the world to complete their higher studies. It has the programs/courses which allow the students to excel in the field they like. A University degree from the US matters a lot when you are out in the field for the job it gives that extra weightage compared to the other contenders.
All the students/citizens who plan to study in the US falls under the category F-1 & M-1 visa. Before applying for the US student visa they need to get their application approved and accepted by their school. If they accept your application they provide the necessary approval documentation which will be required for applying for the student visa. Students can apply within 4 months from the start date of I-20 and travel within 30 days from the starting date of I-20.
F-1 Visa- The most common student visa for the students traveling to the US for higher studies. If you wish to get your academics in the US at an approved school at an accredited college or university, private secondary section schools or English language program then you need to hold the F-1 Visa. In case if your course of study has more than 18 hours of study per week then you need to have an F-1 visa.
M-1 Visa – If you want to get into the non-academic, vocational study, or training at the Us Institution you need to hold an M-1 Visa.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) – Students holding F-1 visas are eligible for up to 12 months for optional practical training once you complete all course requirements for graduation (thesis not included). OPT is different from the student’s academic work, and the time for it will not be reflected in the student’s academic program or the complete study date. Student’s intending to do OPT needs to submit an I-20 with the original end of the study date that can be passed. I-20 needs to be annotated by the designated school officials to reflect in the approval of the OPT program which continues after the end of the regular study. In addition to these, the student must hold proof that USCIS has approved a practical training program or an application is pending either through the approved Employment Authorization Card or Form I-797 which indicates that the student has a pending application for OPT program.
The validity of Visa after the break in studies – Students who do not attend classes for more than 5 months can apply for new F-1 or M-1 student visa to return to school following your travel abroad as mentioned below:
- Students with the US – Student belonging to F-1 or M-1 category may lose their status if they are unable to resume the studies within 5 months of the date of transferring school or program under immigration law. In case a student loses the status, unless being mentioned otherwise by USCIS and reinstates the student’s status, and F or M visa will stand invalid for future travel to returning to the US.
- Students returning to the US from traveling abroad – Students who takes the break from the studies and leave the US for 5 months or more may lose their F-1 or M-1 visa status unless their abroad activities are concerning their course of study. Students need to check in advance with their designated school officials whether their activity is related to the course of the study. When the returning student from abroad for more than 5 months at the airport presents an unexpired F-1 or M-1 visa at the customs & border protection (CBP) immigration inspector at the port of entry, a CBP inspector may find the student inadmissible for not holding a valid non-immigration visa. CBP can cancel the visa even after granting permission to the student to withdraw the application for admission. Hence, the student will have to apply for a new visa at the Embassy or Consulate General of United States of America before traveling to the States for their studies after the absence of more than five years..
The US. Public Schools – The US doesn’t allow foreign citizens to attend public elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade), publicly funded adult education program. Hence F-1 visas cannot be issued to these students to study at such schools.
An F-1 visa can be issued for the students to study at public secondary school (9 to 12 grades), but the student can study for a maximum of 12 months at these schools. The school must mention on Form I-20 that the student has paid the unsubsidized cost of the education and that amount is for that purpose only.
A, E, F-2, G, H-4, J-2, L-2, M-2 visa holders or other derivative non-immigration visa holders can get admitted to public elementary & secondary schools.
Documents required for F-1 & M-1 Visa
- The application fee of USD 160 must be paid.
- DS-160 form.
- A passport with the validity of 6 months beyond your planned stay in the US.
- 1 photograph with dimension of 51mm x 51mm taken within the last 6 months with white background, 80 % face clearly visible
- If you already hold a visa, there can be an additional reciprocity fee which depends on your nationality.
- Approved & Original signed Form I-20 from school or program.
- Interview Appointment Letter
Note: Fraud, false or misrepresentation of the documents may lead to permanent refusal of the visa
- Documents showing your financial, family, and social ties to the home country which compels you to return once your program of study comes to an end in the US.
- Any other financial documents to support your application and prove evidence that you have enough funds to meet the expenses of the first year of your study and also hold sufficient funds to cover all the expenses while you are in the US. M-1 visa applicants need to prove the ability to pay tution and living costs during the entire stay in the US.
- Xerox copy of bank statements will not be accepted until the original statement or passbook is shown.
- If you are financially sponsored than you need to show the relation proof to the sponsor by producing a birth certificate, tax papers, sponsors’ bank statement or fixed deposits certificates.
- All the educational documents including scholastic preparation, school transcripts, public examination certificates, diplomas, and standardized test scores.
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- Spouse, same-sex spouse, unmarried children below the age of 21 years who wish to accompany the principal visa holder in the US for the period of his/her stay need to hold a derivative F or M visa. Parents cannot hold a derivative visa of F & M visa holders.
- Spouse & dependents cannot work in the US on a derivative F or M visa, if the spouse/child seeks the employment, the spouse must get the appropriate visa done.
- Student’s Relationship to his/her spouse and/or children. (marriage & birth certificate)
- It is advisable to apply for family visas together, but if applied later then we should bring student visa holders passport and visa, with all required documents.
How to apply for the US student visa?
- Non Immigrant visa applicants need to determine the visa category by reading each type and the explanation on the qualification and application items. Choose the visa category which applies to your situation.
- Complete DS – 160 form with all the information mentioned must be true & correct. Once you submit the form online you will be denied to make any changes. If the visa gets rejected you need to fill up the new DS – 160 form.
- On completion of the DS -160 form and determining the correct visa type next step will be to make visa fees payment.
- Once you make the payment you are redirected to schedule the visa appointment by using the same login credentials used while payment of fees. You need to schedule two appointments one at the VAC center and the other one at the Embassy or Consulate for an interview. Passport Number, Date of payment of visa fee, and 10 digit bar code from DS -160 form will be required to schedule an appointment.
- While going through this process you need to fill up the details of your visa category, personal data, dependents, delivery location of the passport, and confirmation on visa payment.
- On your appointment at Visa Application Center (VAC), you need to carry all Original Passports, DS -160 form, Appointment letter, and 1 photograph wherein your fingerprints & photo will be taken at the center.
- Interview Appointment date requires you to carry Appointment Letter, VAC receipt, All Original Passports, DS -160 Form, Mandatory and Supporting documents as per the application.