Gathering information from different pages of a website to apply for a student visa could be frustrating, especially when you do not have enough time to sieve through information in bits and pieces. We have done that for you, and it is presented here in a concise way you can use with ease.

  1. Determine your visa category: The first step to apply for a student visa to the United States of America is to determine which category of student visa best suits your purpose of study. The various categories a briefly explained below:
  • In general, for academic students attending a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory or other academic institutions, including a language training programme, an F visa is the appropriate category.
  • For students attending vocational or other recognized nonacademic institutions, other than a language training programme, an M visa is generally the appropriate category.
  • For students who are approved to participate in exchange visitor programmes in the US, a J visa is generally the appropriate category.
    • A barcoded confirmation page for the DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application form (for all applicants).
    • Endorsed, valid I-20  (for students); your school should send you this when you fulfill all the conditions of your admission
    • DS-2019  (for exchange visitors); your school or organization should send you this once all conditions have been met
    • International passport valid for at least six months
    • One color passport (5cm x 5cm) photograph with full face forward against a white background taken within the last six months.  Hair must not cover the ears.  No photos with dark glasses or non-religious, tribal, or chieftaincy head coverings will be permitted.
    • Transcripts and/or certificates from previous institutions attended
    • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. (if applicable)
    • Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you has sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. If you are travelling with your partner, you must prove that you have enough funds to take care of the while in the States.
  1. Gather your documents together:  You need to provide certain documentary evidence before you will be grant visa to study in the US. The basic ones are listed below:
  1. Apply as early as possible: Once you have been accepted into a programme in the US and you know that you need an entry visa, and apply immediately. If you delay the application, it could ultimately delay your visa processing and issuance. However, in a situation where you got admission late, the US Consulates in many countries make provision for emergency visa interview booking. What this implies is that you check your country’s consulate website and get the necessary email address, which you can use to contact them and they will book an interview appointment for you immediately.
  2. Pay the necessary fees: Proceed to pay the fees as clearly stated on the Consulate website for your country. The local exchange rate used as well as the bank to pay should also be there. Generally you have to present an MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee and the SEVIS I-901 fee receipt. Some students from certain countries can pay online, so confirm the method for your country.
  3. Complete a DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application form: All applicants must complete this form that contains your personal information online. When you submit the form, you will get a barcoded confirmation page, which you must print out and take along with you for the interview. You will need the SEVIS number on your I-20 (for students) or DS-2019 (for exchange visitors) to fill this form online.
  4. Book an appointment online: When you have paid the fees, proceed to book a visa interview online. The link is also available on the US Consulate website for your country. If all spaces have been taken and you know you might be late for resumption, email them and they will book an appointment for you immediately.
  5. Go early for the interview: on the day of your visa interview, make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the time. If you miss the time, you will have yourself to blame.
  6. Answer all questions directly and honestly: If the Consular Officer interviewing you asks any questions, answer them calmly and honestly. You have only indicated interested to study in his/her country and he/she wants to be sure that you are qualified and suitable to come. You have not committed any crime and need not fidget. Keep your cool and present all documentary and other evidence that might be required of you.

Useful Links
Detailed information about applying for a student visa is here.
To pay for the SEVIS fees online, click here.
To fill the DS-160 form online, click here.