F1 Student Visa Timelines
Students aspiring to study in the USA require an F1 Student Visa, which is valid for a longer period of study. Once you have received admission from a US University, it is recommended to apply for your visa on time. A delay in the application may result in visa rejection, which is something nobody wants to face. The ideal time for applying for a Student Visa is anywhere between 4 months from college orientation.
US F1 Student Visa Timeline
NOTE: It is important to remember that you cannot file a visa application 3 months before the course orientation to be held in your chosen US college/university. Therefore, the following procedure of F1 Student Visa filing covers the duration of these 4-5 months before your college orientation:
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Each stage has its own importance and execution timeline. Let us understand the step-by-step process from applying to an F1 Student Visa to receiving an approved visa and flying to the USA.
Step 1: Receive an Offer Letter from US College
Getting enrolled in a US university is ensured when you receive an offer letter confirming the same. Upon receiving this letter, you can expect the university to grant you Form I-20.
Step 2: Get SEVIS-generated I-20 Form
SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. In order to get the SEVIS-generated I-20 Form, you need to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. This form 8 is required by the visa officer during the F-1 Student Visa Interview. In case you wish to fly with your spouse or family with children, their residing with you during your course of study would require them to possess the I-20s Form individually. Their forms would not need to go through the SEVIS enrolment process as they would be travelling as dependents and would not be studying at your institution in the USA.
Step 3: File the F1 Student Visa
The application process for filing an F-1 Student Visa varies depending on the US Embassy you deal with. However, the visa application fee is non-refundable everywhere. You may fill out the online visa application form, that is, Form DS-160, and print to carry to your interview. You may refer to the Step-by-Step Guide US VISA Appointment in India.
Step 4: Appear for the Visa Interview
In order to get through this step, you need to get your interview scheduled with the US Embassy any time between 3 months from the date of college orientation. The waiting time for an appointment may vary depending upon the time of year and place of living as well as the category of visa applied. It means that you should apply for your visa as early as possible. Check out the list of documents required for the F1 Visa Interview. Before appearing for the interview, you might want to refer to Tips to Ace US Visa Interview.
Step 5: Ensure your Visa Approval
Prepared all the documents appropriately, prepare for the interview, dress well, crack this interview, and fly to the USA. You might want to refer to the Interview Tips for Student Visa. In order to remain a little more prepared, you may also check the Reasons for the rejection of a US Student Visa.
Step 6: Attend the College Orientation
As soon as your visa gets approved, make sure that you have enough time to get all your arrangements done for flying. The minimum required time to carry this step smoothly would be two weeks before your college orientation. At the earliest, you can fly to the US only 30 days before your programme orientation. Getting this done in advance would help you settle in a foreign country and enjoy your orientation week in college.
Always ensure that since there is no assurance of visa approval, you should always plan your travel after getting your visa confirmed. The best way to increase the probability of your visa approval is by filing it on time. Keeping in mind the ideal timeline for visa filing is essential.