Spending any extended period of time in the U.S. can be tricky and there seems to be a visa for everything. Here is a breakdown of what students should do to apply for a visa, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Select the right school: Not all schools are supported under the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), so it is important to gain acceptance at one that is. A list of approved schools is available at the Department of State Education USA website. Once accepted, you will automatically be enrolled in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You will also be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. Fortunately, if your spouse or children are staying with you during your studies, they do not have to pay the fee, though they do need to fill out a Form I-20. You will receive the Form I-20 during your visa interview from the school that accepted you.
Talk to your embassy: The embassy or consult where you apply for your visa will have different requirements regarding which steps to take in which order. Be sure to check your local embassy’s website to make sure you have the information straight.
Interviews: Students between the ages of 14 and 79 will be required to attend an interview. Students applying for their first visa should interview at least 120 days prior to their school start date.
Documents: There are several documents you should gather before applying for a visa, including a passport valid for travel to the U.S., a Nonimmigrant Visa Application – essentially stating your primary purpose for traveling to the U.S. is to study – Form DS-160 and a photo.
Working during school: According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you cannot work off-campus during the first school year. However, you are allowed to take on-campus employment with some restrictions.
Though this is all a lot of work, it does not ensure that you will obtain a visa. This is why it is so important to complete the necessary steps as soon as possible.