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Applying for an American Student Visa: 5 Tips from My Experience

February 2, 2018

1. Once you receive your acceptance letter and immigration form (I-20 or DS-2019), , pay the SEVIS fee immediately (I-901 fee).

Learn from my experience: I almost forgot to pay this fee when I was going through the visa process. If you don't pay for it before the interview day, your student visa can be delayed or even denied.

2. Apply for your visa ahead of time.

You must arrive to campus on time for orientation before the classes begin. In this link, you can see the wait time for an appointment at your embassy. Do not leave this until the last minute 😉.

3. Prepare your documents

Immigration Docs:

  • Valid passport
  • DS-160 Visa application form
  • Visa appointment payment receipt.
  • Passport Photo. Queck requirements here
  • DS-2019 / I-20 form - make sure to bring this form.
  • SEVIS I-901 payment receipt.

Academic Docs:

  • Letter of admission to your program of study.
  • Certified copies or original documents of your school grades and diplomas.
  • Official tests results: SAT, ACT, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, GRE - it’s a good idea to remember your scores, in case the Consular Officer asks them.

Financial Docs:

Note: You must show that you and/or your sponsor have sufficient financial means to pay for your studies. This amount should be at minimum what the school required to show for admission.

Bank certifications.. The bank statements must show funds for at least 6 months before the date of the interview.

Learn from my experience: when I applied for my second F-1 visa, the letter from the bank that certified the funds under my father's name did not have the account number on the bank statements. Therefore, the Consular Officer doubted that the bank account was indeed my father's.
After a short but stressful wait, she approved my visa. She told me that in the future, the bank letter must show the same information as the bank statements.

Letters proving you are receiving any kind of aid/scholarships. Make sure the amount listed in the letter matches the amount in the from I-20/DS-2019.

4. Prepare for the Visa Interview

The visa appointment was always a hectic event for me. But after four successful interviews (two for student visas and two for work visas), I realize that preparation is crucial.

The day of the interview:

  • Make sure to arrive on time, at least 15 minutes before the appointment.
  • Wear clothes that are formal, but also comfortable. Check the weather and note the location of the embassy. This will allow you to plan your outfit better. Check this wonderful guide about dressing for a successful American visa interview.
  • Take all documents with you. Make sure everything is in order with your official translations, authenticated copies, etc.
  • Breathe deeply and be very patient. Maybe take a book, because there might be some waiting time.
  • If you wish to practice for the visa interview, my colleagues at Visa Prep Pro, provide an excellent visa interview preparation service. Visa Prep Pro's founder is former Consular Officer offering personalized assistance to assuage any anxiety and maximize your chance of interview success.

5. Be Honest

Consular Officers are highly trained professionals with extensive experience interviewing US visa applicants. It is very important that you always provide honest information about your intentions to travel to the United States, and present authentic documents. Consular Officers understand this is a stressful process, but they will find out if you are not being truthful.

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