There are two student visa categories for people who want to study in the USA:
1) The primary USA study visa is an F1 visa which is for ‘academic’ studies, and
2) the second type of study visa is an M visa is for ‘nonacademic or vocational’ studies.
Student F1 Visa and M1 Visa – Overview
The first step for a prospective student is being accepted for enrollment in an established school (University/College) which is SEVP certified . In general, for academic students, including those in language training, F1 visas are the appropriate category, and for nonacademic vocational students an M visa is the appropriate category.
Documents required for US F-1 (Student) visa
Form I-20A-B , Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students or Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students.
SEVIS I-20, which is provided by your University/school. I-20 form must be signed by you and school official (Graduate school/International students office).
Online Nonimmigrant visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.
Passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States
one colored photograph 2 X 2 inches square for each applicant, showing a full face, without covering head, against a light background.
Original TOEFL scores and SAT, GRE, GMAT scores (as applicable). Students going to the United States to earn a Bachelor’s degree should bring their most recent mark sheets or graduation certificates.
Students going the United States to earn a Ph.D/MS degree should bring their original undergraduate degree and mark sheets/Transcripts.
Spouses and minor children accompanying the student to the United States should bring marriage certificates, wedding photos, and birth certificates with them to the interview, to prove the relationship between themselves and the principal applicant.
A MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee.
The SEVIS I-901 fee receipt
When to apply :
An applicant may apply for a student Visa not earlier than 120 days before the registration date specified on the FORM I-20. If the registration date is already passed or the applicant cannot reasonably expect to arrive at the school by the registration date, the applicant should obtain an amended I-20 or a letter of extension from the issuing institution stating by what date the applicant may arrive.
Working while studying :
Your F-1 student status permits you to work on campus at the university that issued your I-20 while you are enrolled in a full course of study. Your UW I-20 is your proof of work eligibility for on-campus employment at UW only. You must maintain F-1 status to be eligible for this employment benefit; maintaining status means that you are a full-time registered student (except for approved exceptions) in good academic standing with a valid I-20.
Preparing for the visa interview
Prior to meeting with US Embassy officials you must pay a $200 SEVIS fee to the US government, and a visa processing fee (the procedure will differ from one US Embassy/Consulate to another). Bring the following to your interview:
Documentation of your financial ability to support yourself*
Proof that you have ties to your home country
Proof of payment of the SEVIS and visa fees
Completed visa application form (follow Department of State procedures carefully to ensure you complete it correctly)
The I-20 will have the relevant information about the tuition fees, accommodation and living costs for a student during their course of study. In the US the academic year is of 9 months, so the funds required for 9 months will be mentioned in I-20. If you wish to study a 2 years master’s in US and they have mentioned $ 40,000 in your I-20 form, then you will have to show atleast $80,000. The $40,000 should be shown as your bank balance and the remaining $40,000 can be shown as bonds, fixed deposits, shares, debentures or mutual funds. If the student has lesser funds than what is required, then he/she will have to justify how they will be able to show the balance which will be necessary to study abroad.
* A bank statement or bank letter verifying your or your sponsor’s financial ability to cover your expenses should be provided. The bank statement cannot be a copy; it must be original (per immigration law). The bank statement must be notarized and no older than six months. We advise you to have an original letter (Affidavit of support) from your parents/guardian, financial sponsor or other source of support claiming financial responsibility for you as a student. This affidavit must be notarized.
If you are self-sponsored, no affidavit is required. In the case of government-sponsored students, the Financial Guarantee serves as both the bank statement and the affidavit.