For most U.S. students the anxiety of the college application process ends once they have their admission letters in hand and they have selected a university. For international students, choosing a university signals the beginning of what may be the most nerve-racking part – applying for a U.S. student visa.
After you have received your admission letter and I-20 form, you may request a student visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over your area. Do not wait until the last minute to schedule your appointment! You should allow plenty of time for processing and any waiting period there may be for an appointment. The wait time for a student visa appointment varies worldwide but you can check the estimated wait time by city at the following U.S. Department of State web site: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/tempvisitors_wait.php.
Before your interview you must pay the $100 SEVIS fee to the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose of this fee is to cover the maintenance costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You may learn more about how to pay the SEVIS fee at the following web site: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/. You will be required to bring your payment receipt to your visa interview to verify that you have paid the SEVIS fee.
In addition to your SEVIS fee payment receipt, you must also bring a number of other documents with you to your visa interview. A list of the required documents can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html. However, be sure to read the student visa section of your U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website thoroughly and carefully so that you are well-prepared. If you are missing any documentation or arrive for your interview with unacceptable documents, you may be turned away before you even enter the Embassy.
More to come next week on how to prepare and what to expect for your interview.