Applying US Visa: Things You Should Know

The latter part of 2017 onwards, there have several developments and changes in the administrative system of USA. This has caused the visa policy to keep fluctuating, causing unease among aspiring students. We are here to clear out some of your doubts and give you some clarity regarding the situation, along with a guide on applying for a US Visa, so continue reading…

To begin with, there are plans to curtail the OPT (optional practical training) extension period. Currently, it allows graduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to remain in the US for three years after they finish their graduation. However, these new developments are going to be roadblocks for those planning to apply for non-STEM programs, and for those hoping to immigrate to the US. This also applies to those relying on an education loan and hoping to pay back the loan after getting a job in the US after their graduation. However, don’t lose hope because you never know – these policies could change as a federal court has rejected these visa bans.

The good news is that even top companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google have petitioned against this policy change and universities such as Yale, University of Virginia and Northwestern have made public appeals against it, standing in support of aspiring international students.

Here is an updated step-by-step guide of applying for a US Visa:

Step 1

Once your university sends you a form confirming that you have been accepted at the institution authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) that enrols non-immigrant students (the I-20 for an F-1 visa or the DS-2019 for a J-1 visa), you have to sign it carefully and allocate time for the visa application process.

Step 2

Make an appointment for a visa interview and pay the required fees.  Under a revision in the regulations, Student Visas can be issued up to 120 days before the date on your form I-20. Exchange Visitor Visas can be issued at any time before the date on the DS-2019.

There is a US$200 fee to support the cost of the computer system used to record your stay in the US (SEVIS). You can pay this fee with a credit card that is valid internationally. Make sure you print a copy of your receipt. It is best to pay the SEVIS fee at least three days prior to your visa interview.  You will also need to pay an additional US$160 for the visa application fee in your country at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate or at a designated bank.

Step 3

You have to complete an online new non-immigrant visa application form, DS-160 as it replaces all the other forms. Remember to carry its copy when you go for your visa interview. Don’t forget to carry your photo to the interview if its upload fails.

Step 4

Prepare for your visa interview and make sure to keep your answers accurate as you will be well-scrutinised by the visa officer during the interview.

Hope you gained some insight on how to apply for a US visa. All the best!

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Last modified: June 25, 2018

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