Having a student visa is mandatory in order to study in the US. Getting your student visa paper work together is one of the most important tasks when preparing to travel to America. If you plan on attending school in the United States, make sure you follow the steps so you don’t forget anything! Simple mistakes can affect whether or not you are issued a visa. Here are some tips to avoid simple mistakes when applying.

Paperwork: There is a lot of paperwork involved for your student visa.  It’s easy to lose or misplace a document. Keep a folder with these items:

  • A passport
  • A 2×2 photo of yourself
  • All of the necessary application forms
  • Receipts that show you’ve paid the application fees
  • Transcripts, test scores, and any other financial information

You may not need all of the items listed (it varies on a case-by-case basis), but it’s always better to be over-prepared. You can always check with your embassy or consulate to see exactly what is required.  If any of these documents are in a language other than English, you may be required to have them translated.

Planning: You want to make sure that you get started on your student visa application as quickly as possible.  There is a lot of background work that has to be done before your visa can be issued, and this can take weeks or even months. It is most important to leave enough time to get your visa before the beginning of your school term. However, the US State Department can only issue your student visa 120 days before you register at your school, so you will not be receiving your visa any earlier than that. You can register ahead of schedule, and your application will be held until it can be processed.

Rules: You need to be aware of how long your visa allows you to stay in the US as a student.  If your visa expires while you are still pursuing your studies, you will need to know how to renew it. Your school’s international admissions department can provide you with such information. Keep in mind that you still have to go through customs once you reach America. In customs, the Department of Homeland Security decides if you are able or not to enter the country. If you know the rules, going through customs can be pretty simple. You cannot bring food, exotic plants, exotic animals, etc. into the country.  Make sure you read the rules and regulations for customs so your travels go smoothly.

Again, it is most important to stay on top of your paperwork. It can get stressful, but once you finish filling out your forms, you are that much closer to studying in the United States!


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