Read our guide for Indian students to learn how to apply for a US visa from India and get started on getting your F-1 visa. Our comprehensive guide will cover how to apply for a student visa for the USA from India, the documentation needed for a US student visa, where you can have your interview, what you need to know before you leave India, and what is necessary once you arrive in the US. If you are an Indian student who also hopes to attend college in the US.
Indian Students’ Access To US Visas
It is not difficult to obtain a student visa for the United States from India, but you must adhere to all regulations and allow enough of time to prepare and submit your papers. Before submitting an application for an F-1 student visa to the US from India, you must be admitted to a degree program at a recognized US higher education institution.
Once you have been admitted to a US university, you can begin the application for an American student visa from India.
F-1 and M-1 student visas are available for exchange students from India to the USA. Students must apply for an M-1 visa if they are enrolled in vocational or nonacademic classes. A F-1 visa is necessary for students who are enrolled in academic courses at a recognized school in order to get a degree. The F-1 student visa is necessary for the following program types:
- school or college
- middle school
- exclusive primary school
- Institute of language instruction
How Can I Apply For An American Student Visa In India?
Here is a basic rundown of the procedures for Indian students applying for visas:
- Obtain acceptance and your I-20: An I-20 form will be issued to you after a US university with academic standing accepts you. This form outlines your intended course of study and offers pertinent details regarding your visit.
- Pay your SEVIS fee: The $350 SEVIS cost is a processing and maintenance fee for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
- Fill out your DS-160 visa application: In order to be granted an F-1 visa, all prospective international students must submit a DS-160.
- Set a time for the visa interview: The length of the wait varies per nation and can be several months. To account for delays, schedule your appointment as early as you can.
- Attend your visa interview: At this stage of the F-1 visa application procedure, the US consulate or embassy verifies that you are traveling to the US to pursue your studies as a real, committed student.
Eligibility for US student visas
India is the second most common place of origin for foreign exchange visitors and students in the US. (The first is China.) About 94,000 Indians applying for student visas to the USA intend to pursue graduate-level education. Students having an internship on OPT (Optional Practical Training) credentials come in second place; they may still be enrolled in their US institution or have just completed their studies.
Approximately 80% of all Indian students go to the US to study in graduate or undergraduate programs in engineering, science, technology, or math (STEM), and 10% go to study in graduate or undergraduate programs in business. California, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Pennsylvania are the most popular states for international students, each of which is home to more than 50,000 students from various nations.
The US Department of State says that more than 816,000 visas were issued by US embassies and consulates in India in total in 2019, a 6% decrease from 2018. However, they do not provide the number of applications requested and the number denied.
The current wait period for the visa interview requirement ranges from 12 calendar days (Chennai/Madras) to 36 calendar days (Hyderabad). Because wait times vary, make sure to book your US visa appointment as soon as you can.
What you should bring with you to your student visa interview:
- a copy of the passport photo you’ll use
- SEVIS payment confirmation pages for the DS-160 and I-901.
- official test results that you utilized on your university application, together with your school transcript
- Diploma (if appropriate) (if applicable)
- using bank statements to complete your college application.
Although there are no regulations requiring a minimum bank balance to apply for an F-1 student visa to the USA from India, it costs about $500 USD. The cost is divided into two fees: the DS-160 form charge ($160) and the I-901 SEVIS fee ($350). When your program begins, you have 120 days to apply for your student, non-immigrant visa. However, you shouldn’t wait too long after receiving your acceptance letter because the USA student visa application process from India can take several months.
What Happens If I Schedule My Visa Interview Too Late?
Do not worry if you are late with your application for a student visa to the US from India; US consulates and embassies provide students who are about to begin their university studies the option of an accelerated interview appointment. However, you must first complete the standard procedure and pay the required visa fees.
First, even if it is past the deadline for your program’s start date, finish the online written section of your application (DS-160), pay the application cost, and reserve your appointment for the earliest time slot. The consulate will take into consideration your request for a sooner appointment date after this preliminary paperwork is finished.
The US Bureau of Consular Affairs advises contacting the embassy or consulate where you will have your interview to set up an accelerated meeting in order to submit an expedited request. You can call the India call center or email the embassy to make your request for a rushed interview. After you submit your request, the embassy will send you an email with additional instructions, usually within two days.
How Do I Apply?
You can schedule your interview at one of the numerous US consulates and embassies in India if you’re wondering how to apply for a student visa to the US from India. See the links below to locate the US embassy that is most convenient for you:
- Delhi, India
What Happens If My Visa Request Is Rejected?
If your application for a student visa to the USA from India has been rejected because you do not meet the conditions, the decision is final and you cannot appeal. You can reapply and request a waiver of ineligibility, which is wonderful news.
It’s critical to learn the reasons why if you apply for a student visa from India to the USA and are rejected. For instance, if you are rejected because you cannot demonstrate that you have the financial resources to pay for your education, you will know what to change the following time. Many visas are rejected as a result of missing or incorrect paperwork for US student visas. You can address the issue before your next interview once you learn the reason you were rejected.
What Else Should Indian Students Know Before Applying For A Visa?
International F-1 visa holders are not legally compelled to have health insurance coverage abroad, but it is always a good idea for peace of mind to obtain health insurance. Furthermore, before enrolling in classes, the majority of US institutions need proof of a valid insurance coverage.
The following colleges mandate that all of their students have active health insurance plans:
- Adelphi University
- American Collegiate Los Angeles
- American Collegiate Washington, DC
- American University
- Auburn University
- Cleveland State University
- Gonzaga University
- Florida International University
- Louisiana State University
- University of Central Florida
- University of Dayton
- University of Kansas
- University of Illinois Chicago
- UMass Boston
- University of South Carolina
- University of the Pacific
- University of Utah
Most institutions provide health insurance, and some even sign up international students for the school’s plan automatically. Depending on the regulations of the university you attend, you have the choice to forego the school plan in favor of another suitable plan. For instance, some institutions demand a minimum $100,000 in coverage. Each student will be charged $2,991 for the school-sponsored insurance package offered by Adelphi University for the 2020–21 academic year.
Before classes begin, often in August for the fall semester, students must sign up for health insurance.
How Long Is The Validity Of My F-1 Visa?
Your program will determine how long your student visa from India will be valid for study in the United States. The Department of State states that F-1 visa holders are permitted to remain in the country for a maximum of 60 days following the completion of their academic program. There are possible authorized exclusions for employment, internships, or ongoing education. You can request an extension using the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form I-539 if your stay in the US exceeds the period of time allowed on your form I-20 due to work or another circumstance. Your stay extension will cost $370 in addition to an additional $85 for biometric services (e.g., the cost to take and process your fingerprints).
Can I Transfer To A Different American College?
Transferring to a different school within the United States is possible for foreign students with F-1 visas. Before applying, discuss this with your designated school officer (DSO). You must continuously retain your F-1 student status in order to transfer successfully. Up until your transfer release date, which is the day your DSO formally transfers you to the new college, you are still regarded as a student at your previous institution. If a student needs a new form of visa to continue their education or participate in a recognized job program, they can also file for a change of status.
Can I Travel Abroad With An F-1 Visa?
Yes, you are allowed to leave and return to the United States while you are on an F-1 visa, but you need a passport that will be valid for at least the next six months. (Consider the most recent regulations on the DHS website to see if India is exempt from this requirement.) If your passport is about to expire, be sure to get renewal information from the nearest embassy.
Your visa must also still be valid at the time of re-entry in addition to your passport. Unlike your passport, your visa stamp does not need to be valid for six months after re-entry.
If you wish to leave and enter the United States again, you must bring the following documents in addition to your passport with a visa stamp that is still valid:
- Your I-20: Before you depart, check sure your DSO has signed and endorsed it for travel.
- Financial proof: You might need to reaffirm your capacity to sustain yourself while you are a student.
Keep in mind that your visa only allows you a maximum of five months of travel outside of the US. You are free to move around the country however you like.
Can I Work In The United States While I’m A Student?
Full-time students are eligible for an F-1 visa. As a student, you are not eligible to work in the US for the majority of jobs because your visa is not a work visa. There are certain exceptions to the norm, most of which pertain to work that is associated with your education and internships.
An exhaustive list of career options for international students is provided below:
- either curricular practical training or optional practical training (OPT) (CPT)
- employment on campus
- severe financial difficulty
Speaking with your DSO is the first step to obtaining an F-1 visa for employment. Keep in touch with your DSO frequently throughout your job hunt because they will need to authorize and record any employment you accept. Your DSO can also aid in finding employment that qualify and in providing answers to queries. You must have been enrolled in your university program for longer than 12 months in order to be eligible for the majority of jobs.