USA Study Visa: The USA continues to be the top choice for students planning to study abroad. If you are among the few who aspire and have already been admitted into their aspired university, applying for a Student Visa is the next important step to realizing your Study in the USA dream. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 1,99,812 Indian students went to the USA for higher studies in 2022. The number of Indian students in the US increased by more than 19% in 2022 in comparison to the year 2021.
So is it easy to get a study visa in the USA is one major query that arises among international students, and the answer to this question is that it's not difficult to get a student visa in the US especially for Indian students till the time their paperwork and applications are complete and they ace their interviews. US study visa includes three broad types - one for studying at the university level, the second is the exchange level program visa and the third one is for vocational education, that is, F, J and M student visas in the US respectively. The timeline for application assessment for each of these student visas varies.
This US student visa guide examines briefly the various types of visas offered to international students and attempts to give a detailed process of applying for the F1 Student Visa – applicable to students planning to take up their bachelor’s as well as master's in the USA.
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Types of Student Visas in the USA
There are three types of student visas to the US:
1. F1 Student Visa
- Students applying for a program that requires more than 18 hours of study in a week require an F1 visa in USA. This includes all undergraduate programs as well as graduate programs like MS in the US or MBA in the USA.
- Spouses or children accompanying F-1 visa recipients will travel on an F-2 visa. Please note that spouses are not able to work but may accompany and/or apply for their own visa to the U.S. to work or study.
You may also want to read
- Interview Guide for F1 Student Visa for the USA
- What is 221(g) under US Visa Refusals?
- Top Reasons for 214(b) Visa Denial
2. J1 Exchange Visitor Visa
- The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for students, visiting scholars or lecturers pursuing an exchange program. For example, Fulbright scholars and many students on short-term study abroad programs from Indian universities will travel to the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
- A J1 visa is usually sought by a working professional who goes to America on an exchange program, hence the name Exchange Visitor Visa. These may include a 10-month vocational training or some research fellowship, etc. Whichever the case, the applicants would be notified of the same by the respective institutions.
- Spouses or children accompanying J-1 Visa recipients will travel on a J-2 Visa. Please note that spouses are able to work when permission is obtained in advance.
Learn more about F1 Visa:
3. M-1 Vocational / Non-Academic Student Visa
The M1 visa is a type of student visa which is reserved for vocational and technical schools. While the process for applying for the F1 visa and M-1 is similar, the difference is that on entering, the M1 visas are time-stamped and students cannot overstay their visit. Also, read about student visas for study abroad.
Latest Updates on US Student Visa
June 30, 2023: US breaks the record for granting half a million visas to Indians in the summer of 2023, ahead of their target of one million by the end of this year. This is a result of the US Visa Interview Waiting Time Slashed by 50% for Indian Students. The interview slots are open for Indian students for July and August 2023.
June 26, 2023: US Student Visa Interviews have been announced for this summer, applicants can book their visa interview slots starting from mid-July to mid-August this year. The official notification states that applicants can begin booking their appointments.
April 28, 2023: US Embassy in India proposes to waive interviews for Indian students who have had a clearance previously on their applications. This is applicable only to those applicants whose visas have expired and who are applying within 48 months of expirations. Get more details here: US Visa Renewal Interviews Waived for Previously Cleared Applicants in 2023
April 20, 2023: US Consul General (Mumbai) - Mike Hankey has announced to increase in student visa interviews by 30% for Indian students amidst a rise in applications, this Summer onwards. Overall this year it is expected that maximum applications will come from Indian students hence, to help cater to the rising applications Indian students will benefit from it. Check out for more details on: US Student Visa Interviews for Indians to Increase by 30% in the Summer of 2023
April 11, 2023: From May 30, 2023, the student visa fee in the USA is set to increase from USD 160 to USD 185. However, those students who applied for their student visas on or before October 1, 2022, will not be charged the new fee till September 30, 2023.
March 9, 2023: STEM F-1 student visa holders are eligible to apply for premium work permit processing if their Form I-765 is pending. This extension is possible only for OPT and STEM OPT extension-seeking students. More details are covered here - STEM F-1 Student Visa Holders Can Apply for Premium Work Permit Processing.
February 25, 2023: International students are now eligible to apply for their US student visas one year prior to their program commencement. This announcement has come in when the US consulates and embassies are overwhelmed with numerous student visa applications and it's taking their workforce up to 300 days to assess and approve an application. Get more details here - File Student Visa Applications in US 1 Year Before Program Commences.
February 21, 2023: Despite major Tech layoffs recently, the US universities are still positive about Indian students applying for admissions in 2023. Even though there may be fewer placements or internship opportunities across big Tech companies for those studying in the USA as international students.
Working on Student Visa in the USA
During the first year while studying, students cannot accept off-campus employment. They are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week. During holidays and breaks, they may work up to 40 hours per week. The student can work for a commercial firm that provides services to the college, such as a bookstore or cafeteria. Students can check out the Top 10 Part-Time Jobs in USA.
Cost of Student Visa in the USA
There are two fees associated with for F1 student visa for the USA
- SEVIS fee which is at present at $350, US student visa fees in Indian rupees is approximately INR 29,116.
- Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee) which is at present $185 equals INR 15,390.
Here is the breakdown of different types of Student Visas in the USA and their corresponding fees:
Type of Student Visas in USA & Costs
Types of Student Visas
Accepted Modes of Payment
Dollars at the applicable exchange rate as determined by the bank
MRV Application Fee / Visa Application Fee**
Accepted Modes of Payment
NEFT Online Transfer
Payable in INR at the Exchange Rate Fixed by the Consular Office (At present the exchange rate is fixed at $1 = INR 83.18 - Sept 6, 2023)
*Spouses and dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee if they are going to the U.S. on F-2 or J-2 visas.
**MRV is a Machine Readable Visa Fee, or in layman's terms is an application fee. In order to appear for a student visa interview to study in the US, it is mandatory for international students to carry along with them the MRV receipt.
Documents Required for F1 Student Visa Application
USA Study Visa Process: A student visa requires you to carry a lot more documents than you would for a tourist visa, by comparison. You need the mandatory documents along with supporting documents of financial and academic records. Make sure you refer to this checklist before going to the consulate for the visa interview.
- A valid passport with a validity date of at least six months beyond your period of stay.
- A printed copy of DS-160, the online application form
- SEVIS Fee Receipt
- Interview appointment letter (original and copy)
- Form I-20 sent by the college (where you are going to study)
- Visa fee payment confirmation receipt
- Bank statement for at least three years showing that you have enough assets to pay for the first year (could be of parent or guardian)
- Pay/salary slips
- Original mark sheets/provisional certificates
- Score sheet of exams like TOEFL or IELTS as ELP proofs along with either ACT or SAT for UG admissions or GMAT or GRE for PG admissions.
- Financial Documents are required to show financial strength to support education in the USA.
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For the USA, students need to show proof of the number of funds they need to cover the first year's total expenses. It includes tuition fees, living expenses, and other expenses (like books). Apart from this, students also need to show proof of the readily available funds for the rest of the tenure of their education.
Evidence of Financial Resources Required for F1 Visa
- Tax returns for the past 3 years (Form 16)
- Bank statements/passbook for the past 3 years
- Original pay/salary slips and letters of employment
- Statement from certified CA
- Scholarship letter (If the applicant has received it)
- The loan approval letter by the bank or the concerned authority
How to Apply for US Student Visa (F1 Visa)?
There are several steps to apply for a USA Study Visa:
- Your visa process starts when you receive Form I-20 from your college. Though you can pay the SEVIS fee anytime during the application, it is strongly recommended that you pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before you start your US visa application.
- After paying the SEVIS fee and getting a receipt, you can apply for a DS-160 visa form. It is an online application form.
- Print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- Pay the visa fee through NEFT or at authorized AXIS bank/Citi bank locations.
- Schedule a Biometric appointment and Interview appointment.
- For the Biometric appointment, you will be required to appear in person to get your photograph clicked for the visa and get your fingerprints scanned.
- At the Personal interview, the interviewer will ask you questions about your choice, of course, college, finances, and intent of coming back. If s/he is convinced, they will keep your passport with them to get the visa stamped. Here is a guide to help you prepare for your F1 Visa Interview.
Remember, F1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days before the starting date of your course of study. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on F1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.
Spouses and children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany the applicant in the US for the duration of his or her stay require F2 or M2 visas. A spouse on F2 status cannot enrol for a full course of study but can attend classes that are vocational or recreational in nature like pursuing a hobby or interest, such as cooking or tennis. Children on F2 status are allowed to attend elementary, middle, or high school as full-time students. They may not enrol in a full-time course of study at a college or university.
The spouses and children of students cannot accept employment at any time during their stay period on the F2 Visa.
F1 visa holders are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT (optional practical training) on completion of graduation. That means you can work for a year after you finish your studies. It is a temporary employment permission giving students the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field of study. After that, you will be required to apply for a work visa if you have to continue working in the US. You can remain in the US up to 60 days after the completion of your course even if you don’t have a job offer or haven’t applied for OPT.
Where to Apply for a Student Visa in the USA?
The process of getting an F1 visa is completely online. Below are the resources to fill out your forms –
For the Biometrics interview, you need to visit –
- Delhi -
S - 1 American Plaza, (Hotel Eros Managed by Hilton), International Trade Tower
Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110019
- Mumbai -
Trade Center, Ground Floor, G Block,
Bandra Kurla Complex,
Bandra East, Mumbai - 400051
- Chennai -
No 3, Cenotaph Road,
Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu – 600018
- Hyderabad -
1-8-384/385, Gowra Grand, S.P.Road,
Begumpet, Secunderabad - 500003
- Kolkata -
Jasmine Tower, 31, Shakespeare Sarani (1st Floor)
Kolkata – 700017
US Embassy and Consulates Addresses -
- The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi
Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021
- The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay)
C-49, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai 400051
- The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras)
220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006
- The U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata (Calcutta)
5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071
- The U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad
Paigah Palace, 1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet, Secunderabad 500 003
Scholarships for studying in the USA
If you are a meritorious student you can also apply for various scholarships available at the institute/university you are applying to. There are various scholarships for studying in the USA. Scholarships are considered one of the best ways of financing your education. International students worry about managing funds while they are planning to pursue their studies abroad. Also, various universities/institutes offer scholarships to students. It can be need-based or merit-based. Experts also suggest students check for different types of scholarships available to them. Below are some of the most popular scholarships for students going to study in the USA:
- Global Study Awards
- Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship
- TATA Scholarship:
- QS Connect Masters Scholarship
- Central Sector Scheme of National Overseas Scholarship for SC etc. candidates
USA Study Visa for Indian Students FAQs
Q. Which applicants have to pay a SEVIS fee for US student visa?
A. All non-immigrant applicants who are applying for a student visa in the USA have to pay SEVIS fee. Also those,
- Applying for a visa as a new student starting a program with a new I-20 form.
- Those applying to change their status to F-1 from any other non-immigrant status while studying in the United States.
- Also those who are filing for reinstatement after staying out of status while in the United States for more than five months.
Q, What are the rules to sustain US student visa?
A. In order to sustain the student visa in the USA, non-immigrant applicants will have to follow all major rules. They should attend all classes or keep the attendance up to the mark, avoid getting into illegal activities, maintain decorum in universities, abide by part-time work rules and most importantly have all their documents sorted so that they can be presented at any point of time when requested. Lastly, if the applicant wishes to stay on in the USA, they must request for an extension and not stay on in USA illegally without permission. Following these steps can help students sustain their US study visas.
Q. If I do not qualify for US student visa interview, can I apply again?
A. There are applicants who get rejected either because of their missing documents against the section 221(g) which is not exactly rejection but its more like requesting for more documents from the applicant. Whereas, a proper rejection is registered under section 214(b) where the applicant is rejected based on any reason which may not fit well with the US consular staff during the interview. Thus, applicants can apply for interview again only if they are able to identify the reason of student visa rejection and avoid such situations.
Q. Can student visa holders leave the US while studying in the USA?
A. Yes, student visa holders are allowed to leave the USA only if they have permission from the DSO (Desgnated School Official) of their respective US universities or colleges. Only upon the signatures and permission of the DSO can student visa holders leave the US and re-enter the US territory, if already holding the student visa in the USA and ofcourse if it is valid. WIthout these permissions, applicants cannot exit or enter the USA for whatsoever reasons, thus abiding by rules while holding the visa is must.
Q. Are student visa holders in USA allowed to work part-time on campus?
A. Yes, F-1 visa holders in the USA are allowed to work part-time on and off campus for 20 hours a week. While the students work part-time in the US, they also have to maintain their attendance and avoid exceeding the already set 20 hours a week for work. Exceptions can be made for US student visa holders if their universities are closed for holidays, they are permitted to work for up to 40 hours a week. This rule is only when there are official holidays going on or when the univeristies are closed for summer break.
Q. If I am unable to pay the SEVIS fee, will I be able to attend US student visa interview?
A. No, SEVIS fee is an important aspect of the US student visa interview and applicants are required to pay the fee max to max three days prior to the student visa interview. The receipt of SEVIS and MRV fee are both important in order to qualify for the student visa application in the USA. Thus, if there is any missing document, the applicants may be required to submit them within a stipulated time period and they may be issued 221(g) slip also. So, it is advised that applicants submit and keep all documents handy.
Q. What are the restrictions for F-2 visa holders?
A. F-2 visa holders are basically dependents of F-1 visa holders in the USA, and there are certai rules that they have to abide by to avoid breaching the student visa. Some of the rules are as follows for F-2 visa holders:
- F-2 visa holders cannot enter the USA before or without the F-1 visa holder.
- The F-2 visa holders cannot work full-time or part-time while in the USA.
- No social security number can be allocated to F-2 visa holders.
- Also, no applicant can pursue a full time course at US universities or colleges on an F-2 visa.
Q. What are the reasons for US student visa denials?
A. There can be numerous reasons for US student visa rejections, some of them include incomplete documents - academic or financial, not enough financial aid to support education in the USA, suspicious characters who can pose threats to the US in future, those who are willing to stay in the US long term and have lttle intention of returning back, the English language proficiency is not up to the mark, there are relatives of the applicant residing on permanent visas in the USA, misleading information that doesn't match with the application and may others. The US consular is responsible to check if the applicant deems ft to study in the USA and not poses as a threat to the country.
Q. How is US student visa application submitted online?
A. In order to submit a student visa online for USA, applicants will have to first obtain their I-20 form from their universities from where they have got an acceptance letter from. Secondly, applicants will have to pay the SEVIS and MRV fee and once the fee is paid, they can schedule an interview at the nearest US consulate. All documents need to be in sync and all fee receipts have to be in place too when scheduling for a student visa application in the USA.
Q. If I have got offer letter one year before from US university, can I apply for the student visa?
A. Yes, as per rule, US universities can grant offer letters to students one year prior to the commencement of their course in the USA. This step was taken to curb the piling of student visa applications in the US consulates. Students can apply for their student visas once they get their offer letters and I-20 forms. The payment of SEVIS fee is valid for a period of one year and applicants have to schedule their student visa interviews before the SEVIS fee tenure lapses. Once the interview slots are booked after paying all fees, applicants can schedule their interviews for student visa.
Q. For how long is the US student visa valid?
A. The duration of US student visa depends on the applicant's course duration, snce F-1 visa holders have a full-time course, their visas longer than six months of duration. Similarly based on the other visas, applicants' stay in USA will depend on their intent of stay and course or exchange program duraton. Hence, it varies for all kinds of students visa holders in the USA.
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