Your institute or university will send you a form that confirms you have been accepted by an institution authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service (or USCIS). To enroll, nonimmigrant students must read and sign the I-20 form for an F-1 visa or the DS-2019 form for a J-1 visa).

You must afterward schedule an appointment for a visa interview and pay some mandatory fees. Student visas may be issued up to 120 days prior to the start date of the program indicated on your I-20 form. Exchange Visitor Visas can be issued at any time before the date shown on the DS-2019 form. You must present your visa application as soon as possible.

Also, keep in mind the United States is using a new visa application form for nonimmigrants: it is the DS-160 form that must be completed online entirely. This form replaces all other forms. Remember write down your names as they appear in your passport, and make sure they are spelled in exactly the same way. Then you must print the completed form and take it with you to the Embassy when you go to your visa interview.

Before we explain what has changed exactly regarding the student visa procedure to the United States, we´d like to give you some quick, practical tips to get your student visa approved, during the interview:

  • Wear business attire
  • Be specific when answering questions
  • Bring bank statements or proof of employment
  • Provide details about your study plans
  • Remain calm and always be professional
  • Always tell the truth

Once they approve your visa, you will get it in a few days. The United States issues different types of visas for students. A full-time student receives an F-1 or M-1 visa. Your spouse and children receive F-2 or M-2 visas.

An Exchange Visitor receives a J-1 visa. Exchange visitors come to the United States for consultations, training, research or teaching, or for an authorized Au Pair position (care of children in a family home) or a temporary job.

What has changed?

It would be easier to talk about things that have not changed. Universities, boarding schools, and English language programs keep on receiving international students from any country.

Visa officials are applying more scrutiny to all visa applicants. This simply means that you must make sure you are well prepared for your visa interview. Be sure to follow the suggestions indicated in the former article.

During this very brief visa interview, you should be able to explain the reason why you want to study in the United States, what you will study and how this will prepare you to work in your country when you finish your studies. You must be able to explain the reason why you applied for admission to the institution that has accepted you and how you will cover the payment for your studies and your personal expenses.

Waiting times for interviews and the issuance of the visa could take longer. That is why it´s particularly important to apply for your visa well in advance.

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