Since 1492 the day Columbus discovered America it attracts people from all over the world. Indians are no exception and today multitude of Indian students desire to study in US Universities. All Indian students however do not prove to be lucky to obtain US Student Visa.

There are 4 requirements and 5 steps for obtaining a student visa of US.

The 4 requirements :

1. Admission in a recognized college 2. Provision for fees 3. Financial capacity to meet lodging and boarding expenses 4. Ties – financial and family, to make the student return to home country.

The 5 steps:

First among them is scoring of high marks in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Examination. The University may not insist upon this exam or may admit a student with lower score but the Consular Officer always feels that it is necessary for an Indian student to be proficient in English language.

The second step is to make a written application to a recognized University in the US. There are hundreds of Universities, colleges and schools in US. However, all of them are not recognized. Only those who are recognized are eligible to issue to a student a certificate of eligibility viz., Form I-20.

A recognized University in US, on receipt of an application from an Indian student, will consider whether he is desirable to be admitted in their university and if found acceptable they would issue the Form I-20. This would complete the third step.

Once an Indian student receives Form I-20, the fourth step is to fill up the Visa Application Form DS-156 and if the student is between the ages of 16 and 45 years, Supplemental Non-immigrant Visa Application Form DS-157, collect necessary supporting documents (see the checklist in Chapter – 6 ) and then has to appear at one of the four US Consulates in India in whose jurisdiction he resides.

Majority of the students who apply for students visa at the US Consulate have a grievance that without asking a single question or looking at a single document out of the multitude of documents which they had carried with them, their visas were denied. A wrong notion is prevailing that the decision taken by the Consular Officer without having a verbal talk with the student or without seeing the documents cannot be a proper decision.

In the visa interview, which is the fifth and the last step, the applicant of a student visa should know that his passport, Form I-20 and Form DS-156 reveal all necessary particulars to the Consular Officer. The Passport shows whether the student had earlier applied for any category of visas for any country, whether the student had travelled earlier to any country and, if so, to what countries and as what. Form I-20 reveals the particulars about the student and the University, the duration of status of the course, financial data to pursue that course and the source of the student’s financial support. Form DS-156 tells the Consular Officer the marital status of the student, with whom the student would be travelling, that persons relationship with the student, whether the student’s visa application for US at any time was refused or granted, whether his visa was at any time cancelled, what is his present occupation, who would be providing him financial support and at what address he would stay in US. If the student had at any time in past indicated a desire to immigrate to US he is required to disclose the same in that form. Likewise he has also to tell the Consular Officer in that form whether any of his near relatives are in US.

An applicant of an US student visa, F1 category for those who are going for a full time academic course and M1 for other non-academic course should bear in mind that Section 214(b) of the Immigration & Nationality Act of US provides as follows:-

” ——— Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the Consular Officer, at the time of the application for a visa, and the Immigration Officer, at the time of application for admission that he is entitled to a non-immigrant status under Section 212 ———-”

 

It is a myth that student visas are easy to obtain. In fact these visas are difficult to get compared to other Immigrant Category of visas because as provided in the above quoted Section, an Applicant of a Non-Immigrant Visa is obliged to satisfy the Visa Officer that he has non-immigrant intent. 

A student at his visa interview should remember that he is applying for being admitted in Harvard and not Hollywood and should therefore be careful in his attire.

At a visa interview, the student should answer clearly and give specific reasons to the question which may be put to him. He should remember what he has filled in his visa application form and what is revealed in his I-20.

All documents in support of the application should be carried in original. It would be advisable to take certificates of experts certifying that the course which the student is pursuing in US would be special to him in India. If the financial support is provided by the parents or any relatives, he should procure affidavits of those persons stating the reasons why they are giving financial support to that students. The Consular Officer may ask a student as to how many Universities he had applied for and why he has chosen a particular university. Questions such as what the student intends to do after he completes his studies, how the course which he intends to study in US would benefit him in India, what his parents are doing in India, who would look after them, if he gets a job in US will he takes up the same, whether he intends to marry and settle in US, etc. are normally asked by the Consular officer.

A student is entitled to stay in US as long as he maintains his student status. After he completes his study he is entitled to work as a practical trainee for one year. He has then to return to India within two months.

If a student is married and is having children can invite his wife and their children under the age of 21 years on F-2 or M-2 visa. They can stay with that student and may also study in US but cannot work there. During his student status a student may, after about 9 months after joining a university, work for 20 hours in a week on campus and upon the completion of the study he would be entitled to work for one year to obtain practical training. A student may, upon completion of his studies, change his status by obtaining a job to H-1B. He may later on also apply for a green card. A student, by marrying a green card holder or a citizen, may also be entitled to adjust his status and apply for a green card.

In order to ensure that his application is not denied, it would be in the interest of a student to obtain proper prior information as regards the student visa. A student should know that near relatives overstaying in US, rejection of applications for visas earlier under other category, denials of visas of any other country, active participation in any political or religious movements, past criminal record, opting of a course of study not in consonance with the educational qualifications or the field of work in which he is engaged, obtaining of affidavit in support from a relative in US engaged in the business of motels, gas station or grocery stores are some of the reasons on which the application for a student visa may not be favourably considered.