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Most Frequently Asked Questions About Visas

 1) What must I do to get an American student visa?

  • Step 1: Get the 1-20 or IAP-66 Form (which should be sent to you by your institution or placement organization)

  • Step 2 : Fill out an application for visa

  • Step 3 : Go to the embassy and hand in the application and pay application fee if necessary

  • Step 4 : Go to an interview with a Consular official

  • Step 5 : If necessary (depends on country) pay for your visa

 2) How much does a visa cost and how long does it take to get it?

  • Depends on country: costs are reciprocal, application fee always $45

  • In Bangladesh, 1-year visa costs $195 ($45 application fee + $150 visa fee)

  • In Bangladesh, 3-year visa costs $495 ($45 application fee + $450 visa fee)

Usually it takes you one day to get a student visa.

 3) What kind of documents do I need to provide to get a visa? 

You should take the following documents to the embassy:

  • Passport valid at least 6 months after the proposed date of entry, longer if possible

  • Completed visa application

  • 2 photos 3x4 cm

  • I-20 or IAP-66 Form

  • Supporting financial documents (see question 7)

 4)Does an I-20 guarantee that I' ll. receive a visa?

An I-20 alone is not considered sufficient financial documentation and does not guarantee that you' ll be granted a visa. You MUST bring appropriate supporting financial documents to the embassy and you MUST prove to the interviewing officer that you are a serious, qualified student.

In general, applicants for F-1 visas are screened more closely than applicants for J-1 visas because there is an assumption that J-1 applicants have already been through an initial screening process by a US government agency.

 5) How can I prove I have funds to cover educational expenses? Can I bring my money to the embassy and show it to a Consular Officer?

  • Itís a BAD idea to bring the cash to the embassy. This looks very suspicious and can give the impression that you are trying to bribe the Consular Officer. DO NOT bring a lot of cash to the embassy.

  • There are 2 kinds of financial certification documents for those students who are paying by themselves:

  • employer's statement (a statement from your or your parents' employer showing last year's total income)

  • bank statement (if you or your parents have a bank account). Russian banks seldom agree to complete any of the forms you give them, instead they prefer to give you a statement that shows the current amount of money on your account. The statement should carry the bank seal and be signed by a bank official. A bank statement is the most "respectable" financial certification. PLEASE NOTE: You need to show availability of funds OVER TIME. Showing that there is a large sum of money in your account on one day of the year does not prove that the funds are maintained for a long period of time. This is important in establishing financial support in the future.

 6) Do I need to bring financial support documents or any medical forms?

You are not required to show a proof of medical insurance if you're applying for F-1. Students applying for a J-1 visa can be asked about medical insurance because US law requires all J-1 visa holders to obtain medical insurance before they enter the US but this is usually handled through the placement organization giving the grant.

Certification of financial support from a source in the United States is only essential for immigration visas. However, it can be helpful to have the following with you:

  • scholarship letter (if applicable)

  • sponsorship letter (if you are supported by a sponsor in the US)

Certification of financial support from a source in your home country is essential and is covered in Question 5 above.

Basically, you will need the same financial documents you've submitted to your institution during the application process.

 7) How many days ahead of my school start date (as listed on the I-20) does a visa normally allow you to enter the USA?

An F-1 visa may be issued no earlier than 90 days before the reporting date on I-20. You can enter the US on any day between the date of visa issuance and the reporting date.

 8) Where can I get an I-94 Form (Arrival/Departure record)? To whom should I give this form?

  • An I-94 is issued when you enter the US. This form indicates the date and location of the personís entry, the visa classification and length of stay. For most students there will not be a specific date but the letters "D/S", meaning duration of status.

  • An I-94 is a very important document and you should always keep it together with your passport and your I-20.

 9) What does "duration of status" mean?

Oneís "duration of status" is the time in which the person maintains the legitimate status of "student." This includes the study period, a practical training period (if approved by the INS) of up to one year for F-1 visa holders or 18 months for J-1 visa holders, plus 30 days grace period to pack up and leave.


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