US Student Visa: Busting myths
US Student Visa: Do you know that the number of Indian students studying in the US has grown from 30,000 ten years ago to more than 132,000 in 2015– the highest ever? According to the 2015 Open Doors Report on international educational exchange, the US remains the most preferred country for Indian students studying abroad and Indians are the second largest group of foreign students in the United States, with 64% of the students pursuing their graduate studies in the US. In the same year, the US Embassy and Consulates in India issued 86,000 student and exchange visas (F, M and J visas), which was nearly a 25% increase over 2014.
In this interview, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, USA, Joseph M. Pomper, busts the biggest myths surrounding US student visa application
Before the US student visa process begins, a student first seeks admission to a US university. The US has some of the best educational institutions in the world, but also some of the most expensive. In addition to researching and applying to universities or colleges, students must have a realistic financial plan. We encourage students to work with our official partner, EducationUSA, to find the right school and navigate the process of applying to US schools and universities.
Once the student is accepted, the university or college will send an I-20 or DS-2019 form which will allow the student to apply for a student visa.
1) Fill out the application
2) Pay the fees
3) Schedule the interview and biometrics appointments
At the time of the US student visa interview, the only documents required are the appointment letter, passport, CEAC barcode page (DS-160), SEVIS receipt, I-20 for F1s and M1s or DS-2019 for J1s.
It is important to note that the US student visa interview is brief and is not based on any additional documentation. The applicants must be able to convince the interviewing officer that their primary intent is to study, they are able to pay for their studies, they will use the visa properly, and they intend to return to India after their studies in the US are completed. Consular officers are trained to handle each visa application as an individual case and to issue visas to qualified applicants.
Students should not apply for their US student visa more than 120 days before the report date listed on their I-20 and students with a valid US student visa will not be admitted into the US more than 30 days before the stated report date.
Our website, the US Travel docs, provides in-depth guidelines on how to apply for a US visa. Applicants can fill out the visa application themselves, without paying an agent or consultant. In fact, applicants should be wary of agents or touts who illegally promise US student visas for a fee and should instead avail themselves of the free services offered by EducationUSA. Applicants alone are responsible for the accuracy of the information in their application and any false information on their application or fake documents can result in permanent ineligibility for a US visa.
On our US Embassy India Facebook page (Like us on Facebook!), we hold a weekly Visas Friday Facebook chat and regularly dispel myths regarding the visa application process on our #VisaMyth Busters Facebook feature. Here are a few myths we have busted about student visas:
Myth: I was refused a student visa because the Consular officer did not look at my financial documents and the interview was too short.
That’s a MYTH!! US student visas are interview based, not document based. The interviewing officer's decision is largely based on the information shared by the applicant in response to the questions asked during the interview. Students should be able to explain to the interviewing officer that their primary purpose of travel is to study, they are able to pay for their studies, they will use the visa properly and they intend to return to India after their temporary stay in the US. The length of the interview is not as important as the information conveyed by the applicant. Consular officers are trained to handle each visa application as an individual case and to issue visas to qualified applicants.
Myth: Paying money to agents for a student visa is the easiest way to get a visa.
That’s a MYTH!! Applicants should be wary of agents or touts who illegally promise U.S. student visas for a fee. Only US Consular officers can issue a US visa. The visa application is easy for you to fill out so an agent or consultant is not necessary. You would be well advised to take advantage of the free services offered by EducationUSA. Applicants alone are responsible for the accuracy of the information in their application and any false information on their application or fake documents can result in permanent ineligibility for a US student visa. Our website, www.ustraveldocs.com/in, provides in-depth guidelines on how to apply for a U.S. visa. You can also check out our visa application video on YouTube. Just search for “Applying for a US Visa in New Delhi”.
Myth: I can work full-time in the US while I’m studying on a student visa.
Another MYTH! The purpose of the US student visa is to study, so working full-time on a US student visa is not permitted. However, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) as a component of your educational course may allow students to work for a certain number of hours in a week after obtaining prior authorization to work from the Designated School Official of the University. Check out https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors for more information.
As we look to strengthen and expand the educational and cultural ties between India and the United States, we know that our Consular staff must keep pace. Of course, prospective students may also apply for visas on any other day that we are open to the public, and we always prioritize students to ensure nobody misses their school start date. We continue to support educational study and exchange programs for bona fide students, as these programs have been a hallmark of our US-India bilateral relationship for decades.
For more information about U.S. visas, check out our Consular Quiz of the Week, Visa Myth Busters, and Visa Fridays online chats with a Visa Officer. You can “like” our Facebook page - US Embassy India and follow us on Twitter at @USAndIndia.
Joseph M. Pomper is Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, USA
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