5 Steps To Getting Your USA Student Visa


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Wrapping up the school year and thinking what to do next? Why not study abroad for a change—and for the better?

If you’re still searching for a country to go to, you can never go wrong with the United States! Aside from its picturesque destinations, this country is home to the finest universities in the world! But before you can live the American Dream, you need to secure your USA student visa and other requirements.

We’ve covered the USA student visa basics before, so now here’s a more detailed step-by-step guide on getting your student visa:

1. Get accepted to an SEVP-Approved School.

Make sure to check that the school you apply for is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) approved. These certified schools are allowed to accept international students and authorized to issue the Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

After the SEVP-approved school accepts your enrollment, you will be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Getting accepted into an SEVP-approved school and obtaining your Form I-20 is an important first step in your study abroad preparations. You’ll need to submit your Form I-20 during your interview when you apply for a USA student visa.

There are two types of student visas you can apply for:

    • The F-1 Visa is an academic visa, which you’ll need if you’re going to enroll for a university, high school, elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or language training program.
    • On the other hand, you’ll need an M-1 Visa if you’re attending a non-academic or vocational program in the US.

2. Pay the visa application fee.

Visa application fees may hurt your wallet—but you can lessen the blow by saving a portion of your monthly allowance to pay for it!

The Machine Readable Visa (MRV) application fee for a student visa costs around 160 USD or 8640 PHP. You can pay your fee at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). But you can also pay online if you already have a (BPI) or BancNet account.

You can find out more about how to pay for the visa application fee, too.

3. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160).

Once you’ve settled your payment, you can go online and fill out the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application or the DS-160. Keep in mind that all of your answers in the form must be in English.  

Prepare the following documents and information before answering the form:

  • Passport
  • Travel itinerary
  • International travel history (for the past five years)
  • US travel history (if you have previously travelled to the United States)
  • Curriculum Vitae (you’ll be required to write your educational background and work experiences)
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System ID (SEVIS ID). This will be printed on your Form I-20. You’ll have to provide the address of the school you applied for.

After completing the form, you’re required to upload a photo that follows specific requirements.

Tip: The online form works better when you open it through Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers.

4. Schedule your interview appointment.

You’re almost there! Next step is to schedule your appointment at the US Embassy here in the Philippines.

Students who are 13 years old and below are generally not required to attend an interview. Meanwhile, people who are 14 to 79 years old are required to set an interview appointment, unless they’re simply applying for a visa renewal.

The estimated appointment waiting time for the student and exchange visitor visa is around 8 days. But this duration can change due to the season and workload of the embassy.

5. Attend the interview.

The interview portion will determine whether you’re qualified to receive a student visa or not, so give it your best shot!

Dress professionally, speak clearly, and smile! Don’t forget to bring the following requirements, too:

  • Passport
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt
  • Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status

During the interview, the consular officer may request additional documents and information:

  • Your academic credentials such as:
    • Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended
    • Standardized test scores required by your US school
  • Your plan to leave the United States after you complete your study
  • Your explanation on how you will pay for the educational, living, and travel costs

You’ll receive your USA student visa as early as 120 days before the start date of your study program.

Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to enter the US earlier than 30 days before your study program starts. If you want to arrive earlier than 30 days before the start date, you’ll need to separately apply for a visitor (B) visa.  

With its endless networks and growth opportunities for students, US is definitely the place to go!

Apply to schools in the US through Edukasyon.ph and find more useful tips in our Study Abroad blog section!



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Tags: educationhow to study abroadstudy abroadstudy abroad applicationstudy abroad in USAUSA student visa

About the author

Winona Rica L. Sigue

Winona is an accounting student at the University of Santo Tomas. She contributes articles for Edukasyon.ph. Her artistic pursuits inspire her to paint and watch theatre plays. She embraces a minimalist lifestyle.

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