3 Types of US Student Visa you should know about

There are three types of visas. Of these, the F-1 and the J-1 are the most common.

F-1 (Student Visa). The F-1 visa is for full-time students enrolled in an academic or language program.
F-1 students may stay in the US for the full length of their academic program plus 60 days. F-1 students must maintain a full-time course load and complete their studies by the expiration date listed on the I-20 form.

J-1 (Exchange Visitor Visa). The J-1 visa is issued for students needing practical training that is not available in their home country to complete their academic program. The training must be directly related to the academic program. The J-1 visa obligates the student to return to their home country for a minimum of two years after the end of their studies in the US before being eligible to apply for an immigrant (permanent residence) visa.

M-1 (Vocational Student Visa). The M-1 visa is issued for students attending non-academic trade and vocational schools. The M-1 visa is valid for at most one year. Recipients of an M-1 visa may not change fields of study. Switching from an M-1 visa to a F-1 visa is not permitted.

How to apply for US Student Visa

 USA student visa You can apply for a visa only after you receive the requisite I-20 or IAP-66 form from the institution you have been accepted to.

To enter the United States as a student, the applicant must apply for a student visa at the US Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Visa applicants must make an appointment for a visa interview and fingerprint collection.

Before going to the interview appointment, the applicant has to pay two fees:

1) the student visa application fee, which is paid at a local bank where you will receive a receipt, and

2) the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor) fee, which is paid online. The applicant may pay by check or money order drawn on a US bank and payable in US dollars or by Western Union.

The personal interview is required of most US student visa applicants, thats why you should learn about the process at the particular post where you’ll apply and make an appointment in advance. Many documents has to be gathered before making an appointment. You should take care that the appointment date should be made at a time that you will have all your documents in hand.

In case of a visa denial don’t get upset. Unlimited attempts are allowed with a gap of three working days between each attempt. You must produce fresh documents for each new attempt.

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Know everything about the documents to be submitted with your Visa application

visa application documents

For the “F” applicant, a Form I-20A-B. For the “M” applicant, a Form I-20M-N. [These forms are sent by the institutions where you have applied and upon acceptance they send you these forms which vary according to the type of visa].  Along with this you need to carry: 

1) A nonrefundable application fee (You should find out the exact amount before going to the consulate and carry exact change if possible).

2) An application Form OF-156, completed and signed. Blank forms are available without charge at all U.S. consular offices; You may also download the forms over the web.

3) A passport valid for travel to the United States

4) One photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square (37×37mm) for each applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background; and

5) Sponsorship letters, student visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they will depart the United States when they have completed their studies.

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How To Earn In US While On The Student Visa

work while you studyDo not count on being able to scrape up the funding after you arrive in the US. Getting a job is not an effective means of financing an education in the US. There are numerous restrictions on employment by foreign nationals, and some types of visas prohibit it entirely. Even when employment is permitted, it is usually limited to no more than 20 hours per week. Most international students are limited to on-campus employment. Your spouse will probably not be allowed to work.

Even if you are able to find work, you will not be able to get a job that pays well enough to cover all your expenses. The typical on-campus job will pay no more than $1,000 to $2,000 during the school year, and a similar amount during the summer vacation.

If you are studying on an F-1 visa, you may not accept off-campus employment during the first year of study. You may, however, take an on-campus job to help pay the bills. You are limited to 20 hours a week while school is in session, provided that you do not displace a US resident. (The test for displacement is whether the position is normally filled by students.) Full time employment is allowed during vacations if you will be returning to school at the end of the vacation period. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) permission is not required to accept on-campus employment, but you must first apply for a Social Security Number and complete a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility). You may also need to get authorization from the foreign student advisor.

Graduate students who are participating in a cooperative education program are sometimes allowed to work for an off-campus employer who has an educational affiliation or research contract with the school. The employment must be required for the degree.

After the first year of study, a student on an F-1 visa may ask the INS for permission to accept off-campus employment. Permission is often granted if the student is experiencing severe economic hardship through no fault of their own, such as major currency fluctuations, loss of financial aid, loss or lack of availability of on-campus employment, unusual increases in tuition or living expenses, unexpected financial changes in the student’s source of support, and unexpected medical expenses. The student must be in good academic standing and enrolled as a full-time student, and the foreign student advisor must certify the student’s Form I-538 (Certification by Designated School Official). The student must submit Form I-765 (Application for Temporary Employment Authorization) and filing fee, along with the certified Form I-538 and the student copy of Form I-20, to the INS for work authorization. The employment authorization will be valid for one year.

Students on M-1 visas may not accept any form of employment, except for a temporary internship for practical training purposes.

Working while on a B-2 visa (Tourist) is grounds for immediate deportation.

Spouses and dependents of students admitted to the US on M-1, F-1, and J-1 visas may apply for M-2, F-2, and J-2 visas, respectively, in order to accompany the student during their stay in the US. Spouses and dependents of M-1 and F-1 students are not allowed to accept employment or engage in business while in the US. Spouses and dependents of students admitted on a J-1 visa may seek permission to work as a J-2 visitor. Individuals on a M-2, F-2, or J-2 visa may study on a full time or part time basis, but may not receive financial aid.

After you graduate, you might wish to work temporarily in the US. To do so, you will need to obtain H-1B status. Your degree must be in the area of expertise required for the position. You must have an offer of employment from a US employer. The employer must file paperwork to petition for H-1B status for you.

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3 most important things about Visa Application

USA student visa applicationAll Indian Nationals who have acquired either US or Foreign citizenship are advised to surrender their Indian Passport to the nearest Indian Mission for cancellation and return.

1) Processing Time:

Applications received at the counter between 9.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. are normally processed the same day and serviced documents can be collected from the counter between 4.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. Applications sent in mail will normally take about 10 working/business days to process from the date of receipt in the Embassy. This time schedule does not apply to services where prior approval is required from authorities in India, or other Indian embassies for non US Resident applicants. During this period the applicants are advised to refrain from making telephonic/written/ email inquires about the status of the application.

2) Following documents are required to be submitted for visa:

1. ”Visa application Form”

a) Visa application form should filled in legibly and clearly, in bold (capital) letters in black/blue ink only. Incomplete and illegible applications may not be processed.

b) Name and other relevant particulars should be filled in as per details in the passport in expanded form.

2. Passport, it should have a minimum validity of six months on the date of application with at least two blank pages.

3. Photographs ; 2 latest identical passport size photographs (black/white or color) depicting front pose against light background

4. Supporting documents, if the visa being applied for is other than a Tourist Visa, the visa application should be accompanied with supporting documents on type of visa applied for. For details, please refer to article “Know all about the documents to be submitted with your Visa application”

5. Visa Fee, Please refer to artice “All you want to know about Student Visa fees” for the amount of fee. In case the applications are deposited in person at the counter, visa fee can be paid in cash or by Cashier’s Check/Certified Check or Money Order made payable to the Embassy of India, Washington (PERSONAL CHECKS / CREDIT CARDS are not accepted)

6. Persons of Indian Origin applying for a visa for the FIRST time on US passport must submit their Indian passport along with the application form for cancellation and return. If the visa is required on a new US passport booklet, either previous US passport or photocopy of Indian visa are to be submitted with the application.

Note: All persons of Indian origin who have acquired US citizenship are advised to surrender their Indian passports to the nearest Indian mission for cancellation and return. The cancelled Indian passports will be needed at the time of applying for Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card or Indian visa for the first time on a US passport.

3) Non-US Citizens: Additional requirements

1. Applicants who are not Citizens of USA, but hold long term US visa or a Green Card should submit a copy of the visa or the Green Card.

2. Applicants who are not citizens/ residents of the USA and hold a tourist or other short-term visa for USA should normally apply for Indian visas in the countries of their permanent residence. In case of emergency or special circumstance, an application could be made at the Indian Embassy in Washington DC or Consulates General of India in the US. In addition to the relevant visa fee they should remit an additional US $ 20 for reference to be made to the country of their original residence. The processing time in such cases is usually 5-7 working days.


(a) Please read the relevant instructions carefully before applying to avoid any inconvenience;

(b) kindly note that the validity of the visa starts from the date of issue and not the date of entry into India)

Special Visa application forms should be filled in by citizens of Pakistan (4 copies with 4 photos) and Bangladesh (2 copies with 2 photos). (It usually takes 3-4 months to process visa applications of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Chinese passport holders).

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3 things you should know once you have a valid student visa

1) visa expirationIf a student on a F-1 visa is not able to complete their studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form, they must apply to the school’s Foreign Student Advisor for an extension 30 days before expiration. Extensions are normally granted for academic and medical reasons so long as there have been no violations of visa status.

2) It is possible to transfer schools after arrival on an F-1 visa. You will need to notify your current school of the transfer and obtain an I-20 form from the new school. You will complete the student certification section of the I-20 and must deliver it to the foreign student advisor at the new school within 15 days of beginning attendance at the new school.

3) If you are changing majors at your current school, you do not need to notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). If you are changing degree programs (e.g., from a bachelors degree to a masters degree program), however, you will need to get a new I-20 and submit it to the foreign student advisor within 15 days of beginning the new program.

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6 things about photograph to be submitted with visa application

Following are the 6 specifications laid down for the photographs that need to be submitted with the visa application documents:

1) Provide a recent photograph (not more than 6 months old) of yourself

2) The photographs should be in colour and taken against a light background (white or off-white) so that features are distinguishable and contrast against the background

3) Clear and of good quality

4) Printed on normal photographic paper

5) Unmounted - 45 mm x 35 mm in size

6) Full face (without sunglasses and normally without a hat or other head covering, unless the applicant wears such items because of their religious belief or ethnic background)

Processing duration of a visa

visa processing durationApplications received at the counter between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. will be Processed the same day and serviced passports can be collected at the counter between 4:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

Applications sent by mail will take about 15 days to process. This time schedule does not apply to services where prior approval is required from the authorities in India, or embassies in case of applicants not residing in US. Applicants are advised to refrain from making telephonic/written/ email inquires in such cases about status of application, as it takes about 45 days to complete the processing of visa formalities. Applicants would be informed once approval is received.

Receipt and delivery of passports: Following return mail charges should be sent for return of serviced passports:
For Certified mail: $4 per passport and $1 for each additional passport.
For Express mail: $15. For Registered mail: $6 per passport & $ 2 for each additional passport. The Embassy/Consulates is not responsible for documents lost in mail.

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Most important step of visa approval process - Proof of Non-Immigrant Intent

non-immigrant intentYou should carry with you documents that demonstrate ties to India and would help convince the counsel of your intent to return. Such documents may include:

1. Proof of land ownership

2. Economic and Social ties are very important: An applicant’s future role in a family business, academic institution, government agency, professional organization are all possibilities. Bring letters from appropriate parties to demonstrate such facts.

3. If other family members have studied in the U.S. and returned it should be mentioned.

4. Letters from prospective employers recognizing the need for specialized training offered in the U.S. can also serve to aid an application in the applicant’s home country.

5. Providing an explanation of why equivalent educational training is not available in your home country, if applicable.

Most importantly, Consular Officials want to hear from the applicant. At no time, is it recommended that the applicants bring family members with them to the interview.

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8 step Foreigners Registration Process in India

1. List of documents which are required at the time of registration with the Foreigners Registration Officers (FRO) in India. This registration is essential for all foreigners having visa for a period exceeding 180 days except the exempted categories and should be done within 14 days of first arrival at the nearest office of the Foreigners Registration Officer.
(i) Photocopy of the passport and initial visa
(ii) Four photographs of the applicant
(iii) Details of residence in India
(iv) HIV test report from one of the WHO recognized Institutions from people in the age group of 15 to 60 years, if the foreigner is visiting India on a visa for more one year.
(v) Copy of the marriage certificate in case of those seeking extension of Stay on ground of being spouse of Indian national.
(vi) Bonafide certificate from the University / College / Institution in case of student visa
(vii) Accreditation certificate from the Press Information Bureau in case of journalist visa
(viii) Approval of the Department of Company Affairs in the case of Board level appointments in Public Limited companies.
(ix) Copy of the approval from Government of India in case of joint venture or collaboration ( in duplicate )
(x) Copy of permission from the RBI in case of business/ joint venture , etc.
(xi) Terms and conditions of appointment and copy of contract or agreement in case o employment visa
(xii) Undertaking from the concerned Indian company on the following lines in case of employment / business visa


We take full responsibility for the activities and conduct of Mr./Mrs.________________________________________________ national of _______________ during his/her stay in India. If anything adverse comes to notice during this period, we undertake to repatriate him/her on our cost.

Date: Signature of Competent Authority


2. Addresses of  Foreigners Registration Officers (FRO) :

i) FRRO , Hans Bhawan ,
Bahadurshah Zafar Marg ,
ITO , New Delhi .
Te1e : 011-3319489

ii) FRRO, Tata Press Building,
2nd Floor. 414 So V. Marg ,
Te1e : 022 -262 1169

iii) FRRO ,
237 , AJC Bose Road ,
Tele : 033 -2470549

iv) CHIO .
Shastri Bhawan Annexe
26 , Haddow Road, Chennai .
Tele : 044 -8277036

At other places .the Superintendents of Police of the Districts are foreigners registration officers .

3. Certificates of registration will be issued by the registration officers. The foreigners should surrender their certificates of registration to the registration officer of the place where they are registered or of the place from they intend to depart or to the immigration officer at the port/check post of exit from India. If the certificate is surrendered to other than the immigration officer at the port/check post of ” exit, the foreigners should produce the receipt indicating such surrender of the document to the,” immigration officer at the port/check post of exit.

4. Registration is required to be done only once during the validity of a visa irrespective of the number of times the foreigner leaves / re-enters India on multi-entry facility .

5. Following categories of foreigners are exempted from registration:

i) US nationals holding 10 year tourist / business visa , provided their continuous stay during each visit does not exceed 180 days .

ii) Foreigners holding five-year tourist visa, who are actively engaged in tourism I travel trade, desirous of visiting India frequently over extended periods for promotion of tourism .etc , provided their visa contains an endorsement that” Continuous stay should not exceed 180 days ” .

iii) PIO card holders , if their continuous stay during each visit does not exceed 180 days.

iv) Foreigners below the age of 16 years .

6. Foreigners can visit restricted / protected areas only after getting a valid permit as visa alone is not enough to visit such places.

7. Foreigners coming from or through yellow fever countries must come with valid vaccination certificate.

8. On arrival/departure, foreigners should fill up Disembarkation /Embarkation cards