Deciphering the Visa Process
With an increasing number of Indians studying in the United States, the student visa application process has been made simpler and faster.
Students play an important role in strengthening the U.S.-India relationship. They help foster people-to-people ties that benefit both countries and serve as lifetime cultural ambassadors. As the 2017 Open Doors report shows, Indian students continue to see the United States as their preferred destination for studying abroad. In fact, more than 186,000 students from India are currently studying in the United States, an all-time high and a 12 percent increase from the year before.
The 4,500 accredited colleges and universities in the United States continue to offer best-in-class education, robust alumni communities and lifelong engagement with the country. Before applying for a U.S. student visa, an international student must first gain admission to an accredited U.S. academic institution. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi strongly encourages students exploring higher education opportunities abroad to get in touch with EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State network of over 425 international student advising centers in more than 175 countries, including seven in India. EducationUSA provides free, accurate and comprehensive information to help match students with the right U.S. academic institutions that meet their priorities.
“Congratulations—you have been accepted into a U.S. university (or college) that fits your long-term goals! Now it’s time to apply for a visa.” This is typically the first notification in the visa application process. Applying for a U.S. student visa in India has never been simpler. Contrary to popular belief, the application process is straightforward and fast. Applicants fill out an online application, pay a processing fee and schedule two appointments—one for submission of fingerprints and a photograph, and the second for an interview. That’s it—three simple steps. All visa-related information is available on our website, www.ustraveldocs.com/in.
Applicants should be wary of those who push false or outdated information regarding the U.S. visa application process. It’s advisable to do a bit of research and review our website for authoritative information.
Documents and interview
On the day of the interview, students need to bring their school-issued I-20 or DS-2019 form, SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) payment confirmation page, valid passport, and DS-160 interview appointment letter. These are the only documents required for a student visa interview. While a consular officer might ask for additional supporting documents, students should remember that the U.S. visa application process is interview-based. Listen to the consular officer’s questions and answer honestly. Students should be ready to describe their academic programs, how they plan to pay for their education and what they hope to do after graduation. Consular officers treat each application as an individual case and issue visas to all qualified applicants.
We know students might have additional questions about the visa application process. We encourage them to follow U.S. Embassy India on Twitter and our Facebook page, where we post visa-related tips and host a live “Visa Fridays” chat with a consular officer.
EducationUSA India also has a Facebook page with a lot of information specifically for prospective students.
The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi welcomes Indian students to pursue their educational goals in the United States. With a streamlined visa process and free EducationUSA resources, achieving these goals has never been easier.
Nathaniel Farrar is a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.