Thomas Cook’s Guide to American Student Visa – Everything you wanted to know!
The time has come to talk of applications, studying in America and the American student visa. Now that you’ve applied to your college, been accepted and booked your tickets, the only step left is obtaining that coveted American student visa.
However, the visa process to study in America is often perceived as complicated. But don’t worry, once you understand how the process works, it can be simple and straightforward.
We’re going to start by breaking down the basics of an American student visa – what are the types of visas, what is the application process, what are the benefits and how we, at Thomas Cook, can help you.
Take a deep breath and let’s get started!
What is a student visa?
If you’re planning to study abroad, then one of the things you need to consider (apart from your college acceptances and finances) is the student visa.
It is a non-immigrant visa that does not require you to obtain citizenship in that particular country. A student visa enables you to study in the country of your choosing, for the duration of your course.
To apply for a student visa in the US, a student must have their college acceptance in hand. Once you have your acceptance, the college will provide you with the approval documentation for the visa. You have a period of 120 days, after the documentation (the I-20 form) is provided, to apply for your visa. You can also travel to the US, 30 days after the I-20 start date.
There are two types of American student visa for prospective students. Based on the course you are doing, you need to apply for the specific visa.
F-1 Visa: Students who wish to pursue academic studies in an American Education Institution or in an approved English language program can apply for this visa. To apply for this visa, your course time should be over 18 hours a week.
M-1 Visa: This visa is for students who are taking a non-academic or vocational training course in the US.
What is the application process?
Step 1: Make sure you secure your college acceptance and approval before starting the visa process.
Step 2: Once you have been accepted by your college, you will need to pay your SEVIS-I-901 free (this is under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program). Once you have done that, your school will provide you with the I-20 form. This form will be presented to the consulate when you attend your visa interview.
Do note, that if your parent, spouse, or children, intend to stay with you in the US during your course, they will need separate I-20 forms. However, they do no need to pay the SEVIS fee.
Step 3: Next, you will need to pay a non-refundable application fee for your visa. You can fill out the application online and print out the forms you need for the interview.
Step 4: You’ll need to schedule your student visa interview with the embassy or consulate. Unfortunately, the wait time for your interview is not fixed. Which is why, to be safe, you need to apply for your visa well in advance.
Step 5: Attend your visa interview. Although the interview can be daunting, all you need is a little preparation and your documents to be in order. As part of the process, your passport will be collected by the embassy and you will receive notification as to when it will be returned. For your interview, carry the following documents:
A valid passport
Form DS-160 – the Non-Immigrant Visa Application
The receipt for your application fee payment
Passport sized photos
A certificate of eligibility for Non-Immigrant (F-1) and your I-20 form
The Benefits and Rules of the F-1 Visa
America is home to some of the leading global educational institutions, and many see it as a privilege to study there. The F-1 visa is the gateway to attending the American University of your choice. However, there are certain rules that need to be followed. Here, we’re going to discuss the benefits and boundaries of the American student visa.
There are no visa limitations on the F-1 visa, which means there is room for many students to apply and receive F-1 visas at any point of time.
As mentioned previously, the quality of education at many American Universities is extremely high. You have access to some of the best minds in America. This F-1 enables you to take full advantage of this opportunity.
You are free to leave for a visit to your home country and return for the course. Alternatively, you can stay in the US, even during the holidays. It’s completely up to you!
If your family’s F-2 status is approved, they can join you during the duration of your course.
As a student, you cannot work off-campus. For that, you will need approval from the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
The term of your visa is the duration of your course. Once you have wrapped up your studies, you will need to leave the US. The student visa does not cover time after your course.
Your family or dependents, who will join you on an F-2 visa, will not be eligible for employment.
How can Thomas Cook help?
At Thomas Cook, we understand that your plans begin once the worry of the visa is lifted from your mind, which is why our visa process is as smooth as possible. It now takes 4 simple steps on your part to get your visa through Thomas Cook.
One of our greatest advantages is the ease of the entire process. You can now apply for your visa online – skipping many cumbersome steps.
4 easy steps to get your visa with Thomas Cook
Fill in the necessary visa details and receive your quote
You can pay for your visa by using net banking, credit card or debit card
Thomas Cook gives you the choice of submitting your documents online or visiting the closest branch to drop them off
We ensure that you stay updated throughout the entire process until you receive your visa