USA Student Visa Guide: Types, Cost, Requirement and How to Apply?

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Piyush
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Nov 26, 2021 12:00 IST

USA Study Visa: The USA continues to be the top choice for students planning to study abroad. If you are among the few who aspire and have already got admission into your aspired university, applying for Student Visa is the next important step to realizing your Study in USA dream. This Students Visa Guide examines briefly the various types of visas and attempts to give a detailed process of applying for the F1 Student Visa – applicable to students planning to take up their bachelor’s as well as master's in USAApart from this, candidates should also know the reasons why their US Student Visa gets rejected? As per the Open Doors report, in 2020-21, there are approximately 1,67, 582 Indian students are present in the US.

Types of USA Study Visa

There are three types of student visas to the US:

1. F1 Student Visa

  • Students applying for a program that requires more than 18 hours of study in a week require an F1 visa. This includes all undergraduate programs as well as graduate programs like MS, MBA, etc.
  • Spouses or children accompanying F-1 visa recipients will travel on an F-2 visa. Please note that spouses are not able to work but may accompany and/or apply for their own visa to the U.S. to work or study.

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2. J1 Exchange Visitor Visa

  • The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for students, visiting scholars or lecturers pursuing an exchange program. For example, Fulbright scholars and many students on short-term study abroad programs from Indian universities will travel to the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
  • J1 visa is usually sought by a working professional who goes to America on an exchange program, hence the name Exchange Visitor Visa. These may include a 10-month vocational training or some research fellowship, etc. Whichever be the case, the applicants would be notified for the same by the respective institutions. 
  • Spouses or children accompanying J-1 Visa recipients will travel on a J-2 Visa. Please note that spouses are able to work when permission is obtained in advance.

Learn more about F1 Visa:

F1 Visa Guide

F1 Student Visa Timelines

Documents required for F 1 Visa

Reasons for rejection of US Student Visa

F1 Visa Interview Experience

What is 221(g) under US Visa Refusals?

3. M-1 Vocational/ Non-Academic Student Visa

  • The M1 visa is a type of student visa which is reserved for vocational and technical schools. While the process for applying to the F1 visa and M-1 is similar, the difference is that on entering, the M1 visas are time-stamped and students cannot overstay their visit.

Also, read about student visas for study abroad and student visa for prominent international study destinations:

Student Visa for USA

Student Visa for Canada

Student Visa for UK

Student Visa for Australia

Student Visa for Germany

Student Visa for Singapore

Student Visa for France

Student Visa for New Zealand

Interview Guide for F1 Student Visa

SPP and Non-SPP Visa Requirements

Check out a video on USA Visa counseling session by in-house Shiksha counselors. This video covers important topics like Steps to apply for a visa, documents you need to carry at the time visa interview and experts handling students' queries.

Latest Update

Recently, the United States department of homeland security (DHS) added 22 new subjects to the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) programme for international students.

The 22 new fields of study added to the STEM OPT programme are Bioenergy, General Forestry, Forest Resources Production and Management, Human-Centred Technology Design, Cloud Computing, Anthrozoology, Climate Science, Earth Systems Science, Economics and Computer Science, Environmental Geosciences, Geobiology, Geography, and Environmental Studies, Mathematical Economics, Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science, Data Science, General, Data Analytics, General, Business Analytics, Data Visualization, Financial Analytics, Data Analytics, Other, Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods.

This allows international students on an F-1 visa to remain in the USA for 36 months and work in their field of study after completing their education. The new additions will make more students eligible for STEM OPT extension.

CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 ALERT

US has lifted pandemic restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals beginning Nov 8 White House has announced that fully vaccinated foreign visitors will be able to travel to the US by air and land from Nov 8, 2021. According to the US health authorities, all vaccines approved by the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration would be accepted for air travelers.

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Working on USA Student Visa

During the first year while studying, students cannot accept off-campus employment. They are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week. During holidays and breaks, they may work up to 40 hours per week. The student can work for a commercial firm that provides services to the college, such as a bookstore or cafeteria.

You might want to know about:

Cost of Visa

There are two fees associated with for F1 student visa for the USA

  1. SEVIS fee which is at present at $350 (INR 26,256)
  2. Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee) which is at present $160 (INR 12,003)

Here is the breakdown of different types of Student Visas

 

Type of Visa

 Type of Fee

F1

J1

M1

SEVIS Fee*

Amount

$350

$220

$350

Accepted modes of Payment

Credit Card
Money Order/ Demand Draft

Payable in

Dollars at the applicable exchange rate as determined by the bank

MRV Application Fee/ Visa Application Fee

Amount

$160

$160

$160

Accepted modes of Payment

NEFT Online Transfer
Instant Money Transfer by Mobile - IMPS
By Cash at counters of Axis Bank/ Citibank

Payable in

Payable in INR at the Exchange Rate Fixed by the Consular Office (At present the exchange rate is fixed at $1 = INR 74)

*Spouses and dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee if they are going to the U.S. on F-2 or J-2 visas. For more information about the SEVIS program, you can read SEVIS Fee & US Student Visa: What it is and how to pay it?.

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Documents Required for F1 Student Visa Application

USA Study Visa Process: Student visa requires you to carry a lot more documents than you would for a tourist visa, by comparison. You need the mandatory documents along with supporting documents of financial and academic records. Make sure you refer to this checklist before going to the consulate for the visa interview.

  • A valid passport with a validity date at least six months beyond your period of stay.
  • A printed copy of DS-160, the online application form
  • SEVIS Fee Receipt
  • Interview appointment letter (original and copy)
  • Form I-20 sent by the college (where you are going to study)
  • Visa fees payment confirmation receipt
  • Bank statement for at least three years showing that you have enough assets to pay for the first year (could be of parent or guardian)
  • Pay/salary slips
  • Original mark sheets/provisional certificates
  • Score sheet of exams like TOEFL, GMAT, IELTS, etc.

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Supporting Financial Documents required for F1 Visa

For the USA, students need to show proof of the amount of funds they need to cover for the first year's total expenses. It includes tuition fees, living expenses, and other expenses (like books). Apart from this, students also need to show proof of the readily available funds for the rest of the tenure of their education.

Evidence of Financial Resources required for F1 Visa

  • Tax returns for the past 3 years (Form 16)
  • Bank statements/passbook for the past 3 years
  • Original pay/salary slips and letters of employment
  • Statement from certified CA
  • Scholarship letter (If the applicant has received it)
  • The loan approval letter by the bank or the concerned authority

How to Apply for US Student Visa (F1 Visa)

There are several steps to apply for a USA Study Visa:

  1. Your visa process starts when you receive Form I-20 from your college. Though you can pay the SEVIS fee anytime during the application, it is strongly recommended that you pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before you start your US visa application.
  2. After paying the SEVIS fee and getting a receipt, you can apply for a DS-160 visa form. It is an online application form.
  3. Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  4. Pay the visa fee through NEFT or at authorized AXIS bank/Citi bank locations.
  5. Schedule a Biometric appointment and Interview appointment.
  6. For the Biometric appointment, you will be required to appear in person to get your photograph clicked for the visa and get your fingerprints scanned.
  7. At the Personal interview, the interviewer will ask you questions about your choice, of course, college, finances, and intent of coming back. If s/he is convinced, they will keep your passport with them to get the visa stamped. Here is a guide to help you prepare for your F1 Visa Interview.

Remember, F1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days before the starting date of your course of study. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on F1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.

Dependents

Spouses and children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany the applicant in the US for the duration of his or her stay require F2 or M2 visas. A spouse on F2 status cannot enroll for a full course of study but can attend classes that are vocational or recreational in nature like pursuing a hobby or interest, such as cooking or tennis. Children on F2 status are allowed to attend elementary, middle, or high school as a full-time student. They may not enroll in a full-time course of study at a college or university.

The spouse and children of students cannot accept employment at any time during their stay-period on the F2 Visa.

Additional Information

F1 visa holders are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT (optional practical training) on completion of graduation. That means you can work for a year after you finish your studies. It is a temporary employment permission-giving students the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field of study. After that, you will be required to apply for a work visa if you have to continue working in the US. You can remain in the US up to 60 days after the completion of your course even if you don’t have a job offer or haven’t applied for OPT.

Where to Apply

The process of getting an F1 visa is completely online.  Below are the resources to fill out your forms –

For Biometrics interview you need to visit –

  1. Delhi -
    S - 1 American Plaza, (Hotel Eros Managed by Hilton), International Trade Tower
    Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110019
  2. Mumbai -
    Trade Center, Ground Floor, G Block,
    Bandra Kurla Complex,
    Bandra East, Mumbai - 400051 
  3. Chennai -
    No 3, Cenotaph Road,
    Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu – 600018
  4. Hyderabad -
    1-8-384/385, Gowra Grand, S.P.Road,
    Begumpet, Secunderabad - 500003
  5. Kolkata -
    Jasmine Tower, 31, Shakespeare Sarani (1st Floor)
    Kolkata – 700017

US Embassy and Consulates Addresses -

  1. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi
    Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021
  2. The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay)
    C-49, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai 400051
  3. The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras)
    220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006
  4. The U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata (Calcutta)
    5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071
  5. The U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad
    Paigah Palace, 1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet, Secunderabad 500 003

Scholarships for studying in the USA

If you are a meritorious student you can also apply for various scholarships available at the institute/university you are applying to. There are various scholarships for studying in the USA. Scholarships are considered as one of the best ways of financing your education. International students worry about managing funds while they are planning to pursue their studies abroad. Also, various universities/institutes offer scholarships to students. It can be need-based or merit-based. Experts also suggest students to check for different types of scholarships available for them. Below are some of the most popular scholarships for students going to study in the USA:

About the Author
Piyush Kohli
Study Abroad Expert

With a plethora of knowledge of the education domain, Piyush Kohli has been involved with study abroad for over 5 years and counting. He comes with prior experience on the complexities of the study abroad applicatio... Read Full Bio

Comments

(62)

There is no limit of 120 days for visa interview, you can go for visa interview anytime having said that you have visa appointment. For example, my college start date is August 31st 2022 and I was allowed for visa appointment in Feb 7th 2022.

Reply to Miresh Sonkamble

P

Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

28/02/22

Hi Miresh, the above information is for regular days, you can check the below (official page) URL for more information on this. Currently, embassies are processing visas to clear the backlogs occurred due to the pandemic.

Hi sir ,
I want to change the course I have completed all the process of f1 visa and cleared interview and my classes has not started yet , can you tell me the process of changing the course

Reply to Daljeet Sandhu

R

Rajeev Garg

10/12/21

Hello. Can I apply for USA student visa without ielts ? What are the other exam options ?

Reply to Rajeev Garg

P

Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

28/02/22

Hi Rajeev, you can go for TOEFL, PTE or Duolingo exams.

Hi Sir,
I have booked my Visa consular appointment on Nov 23 2021 at 11 am. Does 11 am is too late and is there any high changes of rejection for that? Please help

Reply to Charan Kadari

P

Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

05/11/21

Hi Charan,rejection does not have any relation to appointment's booking time. Make sure you have all the documents at the time of visa appointment.

Hello Sir,
Can you please list out all the financial documents required for F1- visa USA if it's financed by parents.

Reply to anushka jain

P

Piyush KohliStudy Abroad Expert

05/11/21

Hi Anushka, please go through the below URL and check out the list of documents required for F-1 Visa:
https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/documents-required-for-f-1-visa-applycontent51715

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