Image courtesy of xiquinhosilva via Flickr (CC 2.0)
Richa Bhasin, a former EducationUSA Adviser based in India now works in the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Australia. Richa shares her experience working with prospective students as they prepare for the student visa interview.
What is one word you would use to describe the U.S. Student Visa Process?
What is the I-20/DS-2019 form that a student receives after they have been admitted and documented funding?
Form I-20 is a document issued to accepted students by Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools that indicates a student’s primary purpose for coming to the United States.
Form DS-2019 allows a J exchange visitor to apply for a visa. It identifies the exchange visitor and the designated sponsor and provides a brief description of the exchange visitor’s program, including the start and end date, category of exchange and an estimate of the cost of the exchange program.
What is the SEVIS fee students must pay?
SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains data on foreign students and exchange visitors, as well as their dependents, before and during your stay in the US. If you apply for a student or exchange visitor visa, in most cases you must pay the SEVIS fee.
How soon can a student apply for a student visa after receiving the I-20/DS-2019 form?
You can apply for a visa no more than 120 days before the start of your program and can travel no more than 30 days before the start of your program.
Are there any in-country resources students can consult about the student visa process?
Students are encouraged to reach out to the EducationUSA network in their countries. The advisers are highly knowledgeable about the process and guide students for the visa application process. Here is where you can find the closest center – https://educationusa.state.gov/
What advice would you give to students who are nervous about their student visa interview?
This is the key thing all the students should be aware of – Under U.S. law, people who apply for non-immigrant visas are viewed as “intending immigrants” (who want to live permanently in the U.S.) until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must, therefore, be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your “residence abroad” (usually in your home country) that are stronger than reasons for remaining in the United States and that you intend to depart the United States at the conclusion of your studies.
Hence, the consular officer needs to know your specific objectives, both academic and professional, for studying in the United States. Be prepared to explain why it is better to study your specific field in the United States than to study at home. Be ready to say exactly what you will study and for what career your U.S. studies will prepare you. Calmly state your education plans concisely and clearly.