Latest Guide to Apply for a US Student Visa on Your Own

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Is applying for a US student visa difficult? Boasting a world-renowned academia, the United States is considered the dream destination for many international students and postgraduates. Therefore, the question of how to apply for a US student visa independently is among the most searched queries related to studying abroad. Let’s start exploring the article to get a better insight into this topic.

An Overview of the US Student Visa

A US student visa is a type of non-immigrant visa that allows under and post-graduates from foreign countries to study at educational institutions in the US for a specific period of time.

How long does it take to get a US student visa? Typically, it takes around 4–10 weeks to complete all the necessary documents for US Student Visa application. During this period, applicants have 2–6 weeks to request an acceptance letter and another 4–6 weeks to prepare for the visa interview and complete their application.

However, in some special cases, the processing time may take up to one year to finish. This is because some universities in the United States require students to submit their documents by November this year for next year’s September semester.

Is applying for a US student visa difficult? It is not an easy task to apply for either a US student visa or a US tourist visa as they are among the most difficult visas to obtain in the world. The main reason for that is the stringent policies the US has on the visa issuance process.

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Types of student visas in the US

What types of student visas are available in the United States? Each type of student visa has a different usage purpose, make sure that you understand them thoroughly to choose the suitable visa for your study plans. Here are the types of student visas in the US that you can consider:

F-1 Visa

This is the most common type of student visa. Foreign students can study in the US with this type of visa, provided that their school accepts international students.

An F-1 visa is also needed if the applicant stays in the US as a full-time student. With this visa, students are permitted to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week.

An F-1 visa is valid for 1–5 years, depending on the duration of the study program.

Who is eligible for an F-1 visa? To get the F-1 visa, you need to meet all these mandatory requirements:

  1. ● Have an acceptance letter from a school or educational institution in the US.
  2. ● Proof of sufficient financial resources to study and live for the specified duration.
  3. ● Demonstrate strong intention of returning to Vietnam after finishing studying.

Besides the F-1 visa, family members of F-1 visa holders including spouses or unmarried and minor children (under 21) can apply for an F-2 visa.

M-1 Visa

This is another popular type of visa for students. This visa is preferable for many as it allows students to take part in non-academic studies or vocational training programs in the US.

The validity duration of this visa is less than 1 (one) year and holders are not permitted to seek employment.

Requirements for the M-1 student visa:

  1. ● Sufficient proof to demonstrate your reason for enrolling in the vocational training program or non-academic studies
  2. ● An admission letter from the educational institution
  3. ● Evidence of adequate financial backing for the entire duration of study in the United States.
  4. ● A detailed itinerary of returning to Vietnam after the conclusion of studies.

Similar to the F-2 visa, M-2 visas are for dependents of the M-1 student visa holder.

Checklist for US student visa applications

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What are the documents you need to prepare for the US student visa application? Here is the list of all the required papers according to the official website of the U.S. Department of State.

Compulsory documents are:

  1. ● 01 5×5 cm ID photo taken on a white background within the last 6 months
  2. ● A passport with a minimum six-month validity
  3. ● A non-immigrant visa application form (Form DS-160)
  4. ● A visa application fee payment receipt
  5. ● An I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee payment receipt
  6. ● An appointment letter for the visa interview
  7. ● A certificate of eligibility issued by an accredited school (Form I-20)
  8. ● Other papers such as a birth certificate, a criminal record check, an identification card, etc.

Other necessary documents include:

  1. ● Documents demonstrating your purpose and preparation when studying abroad such as: school reports, academic transcripts, diplomas, English proficiency certificates, etc.
  2. ● Documents showing your intention to exit the country after finishing study courses: proof of strong family ties, evidence of valuable assets (marriage certificates, wills, certificates of land ownership and rights of usage), etc.
  3. ● Evidence of financial stability that guarantees your ability to cover the expenses for the first academic year at the very least, including bank statements for the last three months, confirmations of savings balance, etc.

Regarding the documents required in the US student visa application dossier, photocopies are accepted. However, it is recommended that you submit the originals with certified translations attached for better comprehension on the consular officer’s part. Some schools and colleges will request notarized translations or consular legalization of degrees, and other documents according to their enrollment policies.

A step-by-step guide to apply for a US student visa

Once you are accepted by a US school, you will receive a confirmation document (Form I-20) and a fee request from the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). When you have finished preparing the above documents, continue with the following steps to apply for a US student visa:

1. Submit the DS-160 form online

  1. ● Access the website and provide all the information requested in the DS-160 form.
  2. ● Upload your ID Photo according to the specified requirements.
  3. ● When you’re finished, don’t forget to print out the Visa application confirmation.

2. Make payment for your visa application fee

  1. ● After completing the DS-160 form, visit and choose Vietnam as the location.
  2. ● Click Create Account, fill out all the required information, and then press Submit.
  3. ● Click Schedule Appointment and specify your Visa type, the application location, and the Visa category.
  4. ● Lastly, select your preferred Payment Options and print the receipt.
  5. ● You can visit the nearest post office to pay the application fee and obtain the receipt for proof of payment.

Notes: Although the fee is displayed in USD, certain locations allow applicants to make payments in the local currency at the corresponding exchange rate. However, bear in mind that this option is not always available and is subject to changes between countries.

3. Schedule an appointment for the visa interview

  1. ● After payment has been made, you can start booking a visa interview at 11 am the following working day.
  2. ● Log in to the account created in step 2.
  3. ● Select New Application/ Schedule Appointment and follow all the instructions to schedule a new appointment. Your passport number, receipt number, and the barcode of your DS-160 are required.

4. Attend the interview

  1. ● Bring your documents to the US Embassy or the US Consulate (remember to arrive 15 – 20 minutes early to make adequate preparations for the interview)
  2. ● Comply with all the instructions at the US Consulate or Embassy when arriving for the visa interview such as removing electronic devices, having your biometrics taken, and submitting your documents.
  3. ● Get a visa interview with a US consular officer.
  4. ● Once the application is approved, head to the Express Mailing Service (EMS) booth to provide the receiving address for your passport and visa.

Tips for a successful US student visa application

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Let’s investigate the dos and don’ts when applying for a US student visa.

Document fraud in any form is strictly prohibited.

This is one of the most important requirements that students need to pay attention to when applying for a student visa. With such a strict and secured Visa application process, the US Embassy/Consulate will immediately know if you have submitted forged documents.

Upon such a discovery, your application stands no chance of being approved. Furthermore, legal action may be taken against you.

Give sincere answers in a confident manner.

This is another factor that can influence your chance of passing the interview. Being confident can help you better articulate your intentions, leaving positive impressions on the interviewer.

Apart from being self-assured, don’t forget to give only genuine answers. With years of experience in taking interviews under their belt, consular officers can easily detect whether you are being truthful in your answers. Answering evasively or untruthfully and you risk failing the interview.   

Applying for a US student visa by yourself: Yes, or No?

There are numerous US visa agents or consultants, yet, many people still opt to apply for a US Student Visa by themselves for many reasons. What are the benefits you can get when applying for a US visa by yourself?

Here are the advantages of self-applying Visa:

  1. ● More proactive during the application process
  2. ● Cost efficiency
  3. ● In-depth comprehension of the US Embassy’s requirements to avoid undergoing unnecessary procedures.
  4. ● Become familiarized with every submitted document to increase your trustworthiness in the interview.
  5. ● A smoother application process in the future with the accumulated experience
  6. ● Be subjected to less intense scrutiny compared to submitting through a third party. Going through a visa agency can give the consular officers grounds for suspicion.

To increase the chance of having your application approved, it is recommended to get certified translation services for documents that are not in English. This can not only help you create a favorable impression even before the interview but also ensure that all information is easily comprehensible.

At Thao & Co. translation company, our team of seasoned translators specializes in delivering high-quality translations in as little as 24 hours for general documents. We also offer clients soft copies of the translations as requested a certificate of translation accuracy without any additional charge.

Throughout the translation process, you can keep track of the work progress and communicate with our linguistic experts via Thao & Co.’s proprietary Dashboard.

That is everything that we want to share with you about the US student visa. We hope that this article has given you useful and practical information for a successful visa application process.

Should you have any questions or wish to request our certified translation service, feel free to contact Thao & Co. through our Get a quote page, our consultant team will contact you as soon as possible for support.

Source: Thao & Company
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