What is a Visa?
A visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport giving you permission to enter a country for the mentioned period. A visa may be single or multiple-entry. Most student visas are multiple-entry, which means that you can travel in and out of the country many times before the visa expiry date. Visitor Visas or Limited Purpose Visas normally just allow a single entry.
There are two basic types of U.S. visas: immigrant visas, for those intending to reside permanently in the United States (whether or not they intend to work) and nonimmigrant visas, for those visiting the United States temporarily. The most common nonimmigrant visas are visitor visas, issued to persons who wish to enter the United States temporarily for business or pleasure. Other types of nonimmigrant visas are given to students, participants in exchange programs, temporary workers, performing artists, professional journalists and representatives of foreign governments, among others.
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the united States. The "F" visa is for academic studies, and the "M" visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies.
What is a Permit?
The visa allows you to enter a country and a permit allows you to stay in the country on the terms given in your visa. When you enter the country the visa or customs officer at the airport will check to confirm your visa and passport is valid. They will then issue or stamp your passport with a permit. The permit will say you are allowed to stay in a country as a student, visitor, worker or resident for the time detailed on the visa stamp. You must have a valid permit at all times while you are in that country. Permits can be renewed at the Immigration Service office on completion of the application requirements. Each student visa and student permit will detail the course of study, the school or institution and its location.
Note: In some countries Visa itself is a permit.
How do I apply for a Student Visa?
Students leaving for the United States need to hold a F-1 visa. This indicates that you are a single student, with no dependents The documents to be enclosed along with the duly filled visa form before the visa interview are as follows
1) Admit letter: The admit letter is sent by the university, which has granted admission to you. You have to enclose both i.e. the student and university's copy duly signed by you. Hence when you receive admit letter from the university, you should check it thoroughly. In case there is any mistake in the same, with respect to name, nationality or any other error, you should immediately contact the college or University, and request a fresh document, with the corrections duly made. You cannot apply for the visa without an admit letter.
2) Passport: You should ensure that the passport is valid one.
3) Fee: This amount is non-refundable irrespective of whether you get or do not get visa.
What are the documents I require for the interview?
You need to carry all original documents during the interview. All of the following documents must be in separate clear plastic folders and NOT in files and all in ORIGINAL. There are two kinds of documents -
- Academic Papers
- Financial Papers.
- Acceptance letter: The official acceptance letter is sent along with the admit letter from by the University where you have been offered admission. The original copy of the letter will be required.
- Original Test Scores: GRE/GMAT and TOEFL Test-scores sheets.
- Scholarship Letters: If you have received any scholarships or assistantships from the college or university, you will need to carry these financial award letters.
- Any other correspondence with the University.
- Printouts of e-mail received from the faculty / officials of the university.
- Copy of the Statement of Purpose
- Original Degree certificates and all original mark-sheets from Class 12 / HSC onwards. This will prove your educational qualification for the program
What are the financial documents I require?
The visa officer needs to ascertain your ability to pay the entire educational expense. This includes tuition fees, boarding expenses and other miscellaneous expenses that you will incur in country you intend to study. Ideally, you will need to show the expenses for the entire length of your education.
Note: You need to produce these documents even if you have applied for financial aid.
These documents include:
- I -T returns of yours sponsor for the past 5 years.
- PASSBOOK / BALANCE STATEMENT and Certificate from your bank stating the bank-balance.
- Statement from a Chartered Accountant listing all assets (movable and immovable) of yours and your parents and the sponsor (if parents are not the sponsors).
- Original documents pertaining to the certificate issued by Chartered Accountant.
Reasons For Rejection Of VISA Application
Most of the times visa gets rejected on following two grounds:
1.Potential Immigrant: Every consulate officer who interviews, considers the candidate as a potential immigrant hence you have to be convincing enough that you will return to India after completing studies. For instance, if you have dependent parents in India who may have sponsored you or if you have a business in India then you may not be treated as a potential immigrant.
Insufficient Funds: You must show enough financial resources to cover your educational costs. If the Visa officer is not convinced of the fact that you have the funds to pursue your education he will reject the visa application.
THE NEW STUDENT VISA DROP-BOX
The new student visa procedure requires that all students first apply through the Drop-Box. While many will be issued visas without an interview, some students will still be required to appear at the Consulate for a personal interview. If a student is requested to appear for an interview, the main benefit of the drop-box procedure is that an officer will have already reviewed the case, and the interviewing officer will be better prepared to make an informed decision at the visa interview.
The visa interview has long been a source of mystery, confusion, and nervousness (and myths) for students. What questions will they ask? Why did my friend get the visa and I did not? Why didn’t the officer review all of my documents? When conducting interviews, we visa officers are merely trying to determine if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for a student visa. We have very little time to conduct the interview, and must assess quickly whether the documents and answers establish the visa applicant’s eligibility. The questions consular officers ask are based upon these criteria and are designed to help the officer quickly determine a student’s eligibility. Any documents submitted by a student, especially financial documents, are only useful if they can be rapidly examined for the relevant information.
So, how does one apply by drop-box? Good news -- it’s easy! First, assemble the following documents:
- A valid passport
- The fully completed and signed visa application form (OF-156)
- One front-facing photograph, size 37 mm x 37 mm, and less than six months old
- Demand drafts for the appropriate fees
- Original I-20 from the university
- Original TOEFL scores and SAT/GRE/GMAT scores (as applicable)
- For prospective master’s degree students, original undergraduate degree
- Certificate and mark sheets (if the original degree or mark sheets are unavailable, please submit provisional certificates and/or photocopies); bachelor’s degree students may show their most recent mark sheets or graduation certificate, as applicable.
- Proof of funds.
- Preferred documentation includes 6 months of bank records, employment letter(s) of sponsor and/or chartered account statements. Students who have obtained bank loans may also provide a letter from the bank stating the same. Additionally, students who have pre-paid any fees may provide a receipt and or a letter from the university stating the same. Students receiving aid from their prospective university that is not indicated on the I-20 should provide a letter from the university stating the nature and amount of aid to be provided.
- Optional cover letter: Students with any special circumstances may also wish to provide an explanation in the form of a cover letter. Once the documents are in order, simply proceed to the nearest Drop-Box location. TT Services, the Consulate’s authorized courier agent, maintains offices in Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.
- Processing time takes approximately 8-10 business days, so it is important to allow enough time before the prospective university’s reporting date. We wish to remind all students that they may not apply earlier than 90 days before the reporting date.
Confirming a visa interview appointment online, you need to pay the following fees and obtain a Visa Fee Receipt from HDFC Bank.
When going to HDFC Bank, please carry with you a photocopy of the 1st page of the applicant's passport.
Please note: If you are an Indian citizen resident in the US, to obtain a Visa Fee Receipt from HDFC Bank, please fax a copy of your passport’s data page to the person in India assisting you. That person will have to submit the fax to HDFC Bank in order to get a fee receipt issued
The fees payable at HDFC Bank per passport are: -
- Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee): US $131 payable in INR equivalent at consular exchange rate. Visa Application Fee at current exchange rate (Rs. 50/-) is Rs. 6,550/-.
This fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank cheque favouring “US Embassy - Visa Fees”. DDs issued by cooperative banks are not accepted.
- Service Charge: Rs.374/- which includes VFS’ service charge Rs359/- & Bank service charge Rs15/- (inclusive of Service Tax @ 10% and Education Cess Tax @0.30%)
This fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank cheque favouring “HDFC Bank a/c VFS”. DDs issued by cooperative banks are not accepted.
IMPORTANT: The fee receipt gets activated 2 working days from date of issue. Do not attempt to take an appointment till then.
The above fees are not refundable. You must appear for an Interview within 1 year (365 days) from the date you purchased your fee receipt from HDFC Bank. If you do not appear for an Interview within one year after the purchase of your fee receipt, it will no longer be valid. The receipt is deemed as utilized once the interview has taken place, and cannot be used to make a subsequent appointment.
For more information on Student Visa Procedures:
Student Visa - USA
Student Visa - UK