Despite a drop in student visa applications in 2017 and 2018, the United States remains the most popular and desired destination for foreign students. Even in a year where the number of student visas was down 17% (2017), there were still over 393,000 F-1 visas issued. For comparison, this means the record high, in 2016, saw more than 471,000 international students coming to the United States.
Given the sheer popularity of university and other academic studies in the United States, there is a lot of competition to secure a student visa approval. Any international student must be fully prepared to complete the F-1 visa application in a timely manner. What information do you need before pressing send on this immigration application? Our team at Greco Neyland identifies five crucial pieces of information.
#1: Your Acceptance to a SEVP Approved School
There are several student visas for the United States. International students and trainees can come to California for a work abroad program under the J-1 visa or complete vocational studies under the M-1 visa. However, the F-1 visa is the appropriate visa scheme for anyone wanting to complete academic study in the United States. To receive an F-1 visa, you first need admittance to an approved college.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is an important part of the National Security Investigations Division of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). SEVP is responsible for relaying information between foreign students and U.S. academic institutions and for issuing certifications to colleges and universities for participation in the F-1 visa program. Your school of choice in California must be certified by SEVP or your application for the F-1 visa will be denied.
#2: Transcripts or Diplomas from Previous Schools
The F-1 visa scheme is appropriate for academic study at the high school, university, or graduate level. However, you can’t merely claim to be a doctorate student on your visa application without proof of your qualifications and previous study. When you apply for a student visa to the United States, you will need documentation of your diploma from any previous institution or other evidence of your earlier education. In some instances, you can provide a transcript of your classes and grades. If you have access and opportunity to locate additional documentation of your academic study, you can also provide report cards and other information with your application.
If you are uncertain how to verify your earlier education or have difficulty locating documentation for your studies, you can speak with a student visa lawyer in California.
#3: A Valid Passport
You won’t be issued a student visa to the United States without a valid passport for your current country of residence. Your passport needs to be signed, including a recent and identifiable picture of you, and be signed. You will need to turn over your passport to immigration authorities during the student visa approval process, but it should be readily returned in a matter of weeks.
Not only does your passport need to be valid at the time of your student visa application, but United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires an international student to have a passport valid for six months after the date of their arrival in the United States. For example, if you apply on January 1, 2019, for a student visa, receive your visa on March 1, 2019, and arrive in the United States on June 1, 2019, you actually need a passport valid until December 1, 2019. If your passport expires sooner, you likely won’t be allowed to board your flight to the United States or enter the country.
#4: Who Is Paying for Your Education in the United States
The United States welcomes students of various backgrounds and socioeconomic groups, but ICE and USCIS are cautious to approve a student visa for anyone that would require social services or be unable to pay for their coursework while in the United States. Therefore, part of the student visa application and interview entails questions on your ability to pay for university in the United States and cover living expenses.
You should have information on your income, parents’ income, or spouse’s income available. Be certain you can show who will pay for your tuition and evidence that income is stable and reliable. Some of the documentation you need to collect includes the total tuition for the academic institution you plan to attend, bank statements showing regular deposits and sufficient funds, pay stubs or other evidence of your current employment or your parents’ current employment, and financial information for your sponsor, if applicable.
How to Submit Your Student Visa Application
You don’t have to navigate the student visa process alone. A California immigration lawyer at Greco Neyland can help you complete your student visa application, collect all documentation required to support your application, and prepare for the USCIS interview at your nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. If you are looking for student visa assistance for next year, the time to talk with our legal team is right now. Call Greco Neyland at (213) 295-3500.
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