What You Need to Know About Getting a Student Visa in the US

Harvard, Stanford, MIT.

What is common among these three?

These are the top universities in the world today and they’re all in the United States. You may be aiming to get into one of these schools or you could be targeting a different American institution but getting into the US to study is your goal and you’re not alone. For most people around the world, getting into an American university is a tremendous privilege already.

Are you one of those dreaming of studying in the United States? It’s not as difficult as it might seem but it takes a lot of work. 

To study in the United States, you need to get a student visa. This article will go through the things that you need to know about the US student visa and how to get one. We’ll discuss the need to get your documents translated by a translation agency. 

Types of Student Visas

The first thing that you need to know is that the United States government offers three kinds of student visas. 

  • F Student Visa
  • J Exchange Visa
  • M Student Visa

The F Student Visa is meant for students who want to study in American universities and colleges or for those who want to study English at an accredited institute. The J Exchange Visa is for students who are participating in a student exchange program. It’s applicable for both university and high school studies. The M Student Visa is meant for vocational studies.

You need to pick the right student visa type for the kind of study you have in mind. If you would like to get into one of the top universities we have cited, then you need an F Student Visa. 

How to Get a US Student Visa 

After you have determined what type of student visa you need to get, how do you go about getting one?

First of all, you need to keep in mind that a student visa application can be a long process. It can take months, so you need to apply early. It’s recommended that you start your visa application process before the start of the course of your choice.

The steps we are giving here are the basic ones but remember that the process might vary based on the embassy and the consulate in your location. 

School Application

The first major step in getting your student visa is to apply to a school or an institution of learning that is accredited by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Only institutions that are accredited under the SEVP can enroll students under the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which in turn is the only way to get documents necessary for applying for a student visa.

Remember that the United States does not have a centralized application system for schools so you have to apply to every school that you are interested in. Each institution has its own set of requirements and processes. 

After the institution of your choice has accepted you, you will then be enrolled under the SEVIS. You will be receiving a form depending on the visa type you are applying for. If you are applying for an F or M visa  online visa application form DS-160 you will be receiving a Form I-20, if you are going for the J visa then you need a Form DS-2019. 

SEVIS Fee

At this stage you need to pay the SEVIS fee. Make sure that you do this several days before you submit your application for the visa. The payment can be done online or through paper form. A sponsor or any other third party can make the payment.

Make sure you obtain a confirmation of your payment because you need to show that during your visa interview.

Student Visa Application and Hiring a Translation Agency for Documents

You will then have to complete the online visa application form DS-160. You’re going to provide personal information to complete that form. You will also be asked to upload a recent photo of yourself. The photo must follow the format set on the site. Make sure that you answer all the application questions accurately so you don’t have to reschedule your interview. 

Any document that you must submit which is not written in English must be translated. The translation must be certified so you need to go with a professional translation agency instead of working with a freelancer. A translation agency will also have a process in place that will guarantee you can get your document translation on time. 

We’ve done our research on how to find the best translation agency and we saw several processes that we like. Tomedes’ easy-to-navigate website allows clients to upload the documents to be translated. After the upload, potential clients can get quotes for free so they have a clear idea of how much the translation will cost without committing to anything. Hogarth also had a process in place which we found easy to follow. These two translation agencies offered the sort of convenience that you should be looking for when picking a translation agency. 

The Visa Interview

The last and the most crucial step for your visa application is the visa interview. Your application can only be completed after you have an interview with a consular officer. You need to bring all of your documents for the interview.

Make sure you are on time for your interview. If you’re late your interview might be rescheduled. Expect a lot of questions concerning your connection with your home country, your English language proficiency, the course in the US institution to which you have been admitted. Expect to be asked about what your plans are after you finish your course.

The consular officer will tell you during the interview if your application needs additional processing.

Now, there is no guarantee that your visa application will be approved. Don’t finalize your travel plans until you have your visa actually approved. Remember a visa does not mean you have the right to enter the United States. It only means you can travel to a port-of-entry where officials will decide whether you can enter the country or not but once you get your visa approved, you’re on your way to realizing your dream of studying in the United States. 

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