T HE COMPL ET E S T UDENT ’S VI S A GUI DE B OOK US Consular Districts: You have to attend for interview at the following consulate or embassy to which your passport consular district falls. NEW DELHI Residents and holders of Passports issued by the regional passport offices of Delhi and the north Indian states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh should contact and attend for F1-Visa interview at: U.S. Embassy Shantipath, Chanakyapuri New Delhi Phone: (011) 24198000 Fax: (011) 24190017 or 24198407 Consular Office & hours of operation: Immigrant visa services: 8:30 a.m., Monday - Friday Nonimmigrant visa services: 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., Monday - Friday NOTE: Due to administrative work, visa section is closed on the last working day of each month MUMBAI (Bombay) Residents and holders of Passports issued by the regional passport offices of the western states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa and Union Territories Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli should attend for the F1-visa interview or contact at: The U.S. Consulate General Lincoln House 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road Mumbai 400026 For F1 visa procedures call (022) - 23637407 & 23637408 Phone: 022-23633611 to 3618 Fax: 022-23630350 Consular Office Hours of operation: Nonimmigrant visa services: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday - Friday Token distribution: 11 a.m. Note: Mumbai's Visa Services Office is also closed on the last working day of each month. CALCUTTA (Kolkata) Residents and holders of Passports issued by the regional passport offices of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Andaman and Nicobar Islands should attend for f1-visa interview or contact at: The U.S. Consulate General 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani Calcutta 700071 Telephone: 033-22823611/15 Facsimile: 033-22822335/3865 Consular Office Hours of operation: Nonimigrant services 8 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., Monday-Tuesday Thursday-Friday (Closed on Wednesday) CHENNAI (Madras) Residents and holders of Passports issued by the regional passport offices of the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Lakshadweep Islands and Pondicherry should attend for f1-visa interview or contact at: The U.S. Consulate General Mount Road Chennai 600006 Phone: 044-28112000 Fax: 044-28112020 The Consular Office Hours of operation: Nonimigrant visa services 8:15 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday ********************************************************* US Consulates websites: New Delhi:: http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/ Chennai: http://chennai.usconsulate.gov/ Kolkata: http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov/ Mumbai: http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/ http://www.visa-services.com/student-FM.html ********************************************************* Emails of US consulates: Regarding NONIMMIGRANT VISA APPLICATIONS including students (F1). who will be in the U.S. for a specific period contact respective consulates. New Delhi: firstname.lastname@example.org Kolkata: ConsularCalcutta@state.gov Mumbai: MumbaiNIV@state.gov Chennai: ChennaiNIV@state.gov ******************************************************** F1 Visa: The "F-1" visa is for USA academic studies for foreign Students. It's a non-immigrant visa for student, which will permit the applicant to stay for a particular period of time in the United States to accomplish the purpose of studying. All applicants for F1 visas must overcome the legal presumption that they are intending immigrants. To qualify for a visa, applicants must demonstrate that they: · Plan to remain in the U.S. for only a specific, limited time. · Have sufficient funds for the stay in the U.S. · Have a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding obligations, which will ensure departure at the conclusion of the stay in the U.S. Once an F-1 visa has been issued please be aware, however, that new U.S. law allows students and trainees to enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program start date indicated on their I-20 or DS-2019. In general, we recommend that such visa holders ENTER NO MORE THAN 10 DAYS before their program start date. While it is possible to enter up to 30 days in advance, students/trainees should be prepared to justify to immigration officials the need for any earlier arrival. ******************************************* ******************************************************** How to apply for visa interview appointment ******************************************************** Note for Mumbai applicants: Mumbai Us consular district people can take online appointment or offline appointment, which can be found at the following link. http://www.visa-services.com/student-FM.html ********************************************************* Note for New Delhi, Kolkata & Chennai applicants: All first time applicants of New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai consular districts for F-1 visa would need to make an appointment on the website www.ttsvisas.com Whatever may be the previous US visa status of an applicant, when applying, first time for F1 visa, a student has to appear for personal interview by taking an appointment with web-site www.ttsvisas.com You have to take a hard copy (print-out) of the appointment made by you after the appointment was confirmed. You can directly take the appointment page print copy or confirmation mail sent to your given mail-id by the TTS people. Without this print copy of your appointment you will not be allowed to attend the interview. ********************************************************** Postponing, preponing of the appointment with TTS: If you are unable to keep your appointment, cancellation or modification must be done latest by 2:00 pm on the day prior to your appointment by using the "Modify/Cancel Reservation" link on the Home Page of the link www.ttsvisas.com. ********************************************** SEVIS & BCIS: SEVIS - STUDENT AND EXCHANGE VISITOR INFORMATION SYSTEM. Beginning January 30, 2003, all forms I-20 issued by academic educational institutions, must be created within the SEVIS system. As of January 30, 2003 all new forms I-20 issued on or after that date must be SEVIS compatible documents. All students must present a SEVIS-generated form I-20, if they are applying for a visa after January 30, 2003. These new forms are printed on a single sheet of paper and will have a large black bar code down the top right hand side of the form. SEVIS is basically a system to enable U.S. academic institutions to maintain accurate and timely data on foreign students, and their dependents, and communicate this information to the now BCIS formerly known as U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and Department of State in real time. BCIS: The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) became the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), moving from its organizational home in the Department of Justice to the newly created Department of Homeland Security. **************************************** Required Documents for F1 Visa: They can be classified as follows. A. Consulate Documents. B. US University Documents. C. Qualifying Test Documents. C. Educational Documents. D. Proof of Funds Documents. *********************************** A. Consulate Documents: 1. Copy of Web appointment (TTS). 2. Form DS-156. (Can be downloaded and printed back-to-back (Both sides on a single paper or sheet) Download it from: http://travel.state.gov/DS-0156.pdf 3. Form DS-157 (Only for all male applicants in the age group of 16 to 45 years)(Not required for Female applicants) Download it from: http://travel.state.gov/DS-0157.pdf 4. Form DS-158 (for applicants seeking visas in F category) Download it from: http://travel.state.gov/DS-0158.pdf Note: You can fill the above forms in your own handwriting or if you are using Adobe Acrobat reader 5.0, you can directly type in the form (except a few columns) and take printouts directly. 5. One Demand Draft from the for Rs.4,600/- as mentioned below. 6. One Photo 50mm X 50mm (or 2inches x 2 inches Square) on form DS-156. (Photo guidelines are given below within this section. Kindly follow them as described.) 7. Passport - Each applicant must possess an individual passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date at least six months beyond the intended period of stay; -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Banks to take DD's (For Chennai consulate Applicants Only): The following is a list of nationalized or foreign banks with a branch in Chennai from which the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai will accept Demand Drafts (current as of October 2003): ABN AMRO Bank American Express Bank Andhra Bank Allahabad Bank Bank of America Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur Bank of India Bank of Maharashtra Bank of Muscat Bharat Overseas Bank Bank of Tokyo & Mitsubishi BNP Paribas Central Bank Canara Bank Citibank Duetsche Bank Global Trust Bank HDFC Bank Honkong Bank ICICI Bank IDBI Bank Indian Bank Indian Overseas Bank Karnataka Bank Lakshmivilas Bank Oriental Bank of Commerce Punjab National Bank Reserve Bank Of India Standard Chartered Bank State Bank of Hyderabad State Bank of India State Bank of Indore State Bank of Mysore State Bank of Travancore Syndicate Bank Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Tamilnadu state apex co-op Bank The Jammu & Kashmir Bank The Federal Bank UCO Bank UTI Bank Vijaya Bank Demand Draft Details: Visa fees are as follows: 1) Non-immigrant visa application fee (non-refundable) Rs. 4600/- 2) Courier fee: Rs. 400 (Courier fees may be paid in cash or via a demand draft favoring "T.T. Services" to be paid on the day of appointment at the TT Services counter located at the Embassy.) One Demand Draft/Bank Draft/Pay Order/Bank Managers Check taken for the following amount from any Nationalized Banks and Local Branches of Foreign Banks. DD's drawn on Co-operative Banks are not accepted. DD specifications for different centers are as follows. 1. New Delhi: One Demand Draft for Rs.4600/-, drawn in favor of the "American Embassy, New Delhi." Drafts should be drawn on a bank with a branch in New Delhi. 2. Calcutta: One separate DD on "American Consulate General, Calcutta," Payable at Calcutta for the amounts of Rs.4600/ Write your full name and date of birth on the back of each and every bank draft, using only a pencil to do so. 3. Mumbai: In Mumbai a single DD includes both Visa application fee and Courier fee. Demand Draft for Visa Application Fee: Rs.5000/- Favoring "VFS a/c - US Visa", payable in Mumbai. Note: Drop Box applicants from Western Region opting the courier service (Blue Dart) for home/office pick-up of application - please add Rs. 120/- per passport. Total fee payable with pick-up service: Each application must contain the Demand Draft for Visa Application Fee: Rs 5120/- Favoring " VFS a/c - US Visa" payable in Mumbai 4. Chennai: One DD on "American Consulate General, Chennai." Payable in Chennai for the amounts of Rs.4, 600/- Important: Please write your complete name and passport number on the back of each draft. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- B. US University Documents: 1. Offer letter from university or Acceptance letter from university. 2. SEVIS generated i-20 form from US University. 3. Any special letter of Aid or Funding. 4. Any useful correspondence with university officials or department officials or professors, in the form of mails or snail mails. If emails take printouts of the same. When VO asks for them, present them. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Regarding i-20's read the following: (As of January 30, 2003 all new forms I-20 issued on or after that date must be SEVIS compatible documents. First time students will be able to enter the U.S. with non-SEVIS documents issued prior to January 30, 2003. All continuing students must present a SEVIS-generated form I-20, if they are applying for a visa after January 30, 2003. These new forms are printed on a single sheet of paper and will have a large black bar code down the top right hand side of the form.) Note: If a student receives More than one i-20, he/she should take all the received i-20's to visa interview. If the visa officer asks for the proof of more the i-20's then you can show them to VO. But unless VO asks for them don't show. Just keep them with you. And also remember that VO will be knowing about all your admissions (If I-20 was ever issued) --------------------------------------------------- ****************************************** C. Qualifying Test Documents: Original Score Reports of 1. TOEFL 2. GRE/GMAT ****************************************** D. Educational Documents: 1. Original Degree of Graduation or any other available highest degree as per the specifications applicable to individual cases. (What if Degree certificate is not available? kindly follow the following FAQ available with Chennai consulate web-site. Q. What if I have not yet received my degree certificate? A. Yes - you may still apply, but please be sure to include your Individual and consolidated mark Sheets and provisional certificate along with Course Completion Certificate duly signed and stamped with college seal by principal.) 2. Intermediate or (10+2 exam) original certificates or as applicable to your case. 3. SSC / CBSE - (+10th standard) original certificates or as applicable to your case. 4. Original Degree Consolidated marks list (if available and applicable to your case.) along with all semester/year marks lists, which is now became mandatory. ***************************************************************** E. Proof of Funds Documents: 1. Proof of ability to finance the education A. Scholarship letters, B. Bank letters, C. Salary slips of parents and other sponsors if any, D. IT returns for last 2-3 years etc of parents and other sponsors if any. E. Rental receipts of own shops or buildings if any with revenue stamps. F. Sponsors Business P/L Account duly certified by a CA if sponsor is a businessman. G. Pension Papers - if sponsor is retired. H. 6 months of Bank records - i.e. Bank transaction statements. Or Bank Passbooks of sponsors. (At times VO ask for more than 6 months also.) I. Chartered Accountant Statement of Monetary worthiness of the sponsors. J. Affidavit of supports by sponsors and student separately. K. Loan approval letters (if you want to show loans.) Regarding loans kindly look into FAQ's given below. Note: As a matter of fact you need to show the funds available with you through liquid cash, liquid assets and properties and other immovable assets and annual income. 1. Liquid Cash The Bank in which the sponsor is having an account on bank's letterhead and duly stamped along with a seal can certify this. It can be supported by 6 months Bank statements or Pass books whatever available with Bank. Your sponsors bank account should contain cash for first year funds of university fee + Living expenses + insurance + misc expenses + airfares to USA and + Reserve cash funds for second year. Generally it will be between 20-25 lakhs and sometimes up to 30- 35 lakhs depending upon the university expenses (Tuition + Living expenses as mentioned for 9-12 months on I-20 for the length of study as mentioned in I-20 ranging from 24 months to 39 months) of If it's for 24 months you have to show availability liquid funds for 24 months. If the normal length of course is for 36 months, then you have to show availability of funds for all three years, even you know course is for 24 months. So a lot depends upon what your I-20 is mentioning. Liquid funds also covers any Fixed deposits + Bonds + Shares + NSC + Mutual funds + Gold + Jewellery etc. In fact it's better to show Fixed deposits in our opinion. They carry much weight. For everything you intend to show get a latest valuation certificates basing on which CA will be giving his certificate. If you are showing Gold and Jewellery, you should produce their valuation from a Government approved official valuer, along with a declaration of possession of Gold and jewellery by the sponsorer. But remember in recent times Gold and jewellery has lost its shine in visa processing, as many a times VO's commenting that they don't think parents or sponsorers will sell of their Gold and other valuables for the sake of their wards education. So be careful, while showing Gold and Jewellery. Try to show it only as an asset but not as a means of funding for college expenses and fees So from bank you need to produce: A. Bank Letter stating the funds available with sponsors account and how much it will be equivalent in US$. B. Fixed Deposits Original certificates. C. 6 months or more Bank Transaction statements and Pass Books and any other related documents. 2. Properties: -80 There's no uniformity in these issues. Generally it should be around 70 lakhs or more. These may be Buildings, plots, flats, shops, agricultural fields, farm houses etc immovable property in any form if you are able to justify. All these should be evaluated and certified by a CE - Chartered Engineer or Tehsil or concerned metro/revenue officials etc to give their certificate of opinion on the value of these immovable assets. 3. CA statement: A CA - Chartered Accountant will give his certificate of Monetary worthiness of sponsors basing on the documents he is having related to sponsor. His certificate mentions all the Cash, liquid assets and immovable assets available with the sponsor, which can be available for immediate use for the applicants study in USA. ******************************************************************* F Some Important Faq's on -1 Visa, which every student should go through: These are from US consulates and other good sites. Q. Should we carry original documents or photocopies? A. The applicant should carry the original and one photocopy of all documents. Q. Do students need any special documents? A. You must present current documentary evidence that sufficient liquid funds are available from a specifically designated and reliable financial resource to pay all travel, living and school expenses. If the support is from the educational institution in the form of a scholarship or assistantship, it should be noted on the Form I-20. If the support is from a sponsor (normally a very close relative), you must present a notarized Form I-134 Affidavit of Support available free of charge at any office of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in the USA or can be downloaded from the link http://www.immigration.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/files/i-134.pdf Stating willingness to finance your education expenses, along with copies of the sponsor's most recent income tax return and bank statements for the past six months. An F-1 applicant must have evidence of sufficient and readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study, and that barring unforeseen circumstances adequate funds will be available for each subsequent year of study as mentioned on I-20 form. The number of years required to complete the course of study will be determined by the school and noted on the I-20. Q. Do I have to pay the first year tuition in advance? A. No -- paying the tuition expenses in advance is one of several ways to show proof of funds, but it is NOT a requirement to pay in advance. Q. What if the university will not accept the tuition fees in advance? A. It is the university's decision to accept or not accept the fees in advance. The Consulate has no influence over universities' policies regarding this. Students should consult with prospective universities regarding their policies well in advance of applying for a student visa. Q. What documents should I show to prove that I could pay for my education? A. There are no specific documents that prove a student is able to pay for his/her education. Bank account statements, chartered accountant statements, employment letters, and property documents are the most common documents used to show proof of funds. Q. What if my university does not require that the TOEFL or GRE? A. Students whose prospective university does not require that they take the TOEFL or GRE should provide a letter from the university stating the same. However, the Consulate recommends that all student visa applicants provide standardized test scores. Q. Is it required that I apply by Drop Box? A. Only returning Student applicants may use the drop-box First time Student visa applicants applying for four-year undergraduate programs or graduate programs leading a master or doctoral degree must make an appointment and be interviewed. Please be aware that after reviewing your case a Consular Officer may require a personal interview before a final decision is made. Q. How do I prove that I can afford to attend school in the United States? A. An I-20 shows the amount of funding you must have available to cover the first year's expenses. The total amount includes tuition and fees, living expenses, expenses of dependents (if applicable), and other expenses (as applicable). You must prove that you have immediate funds available to cover this amount. If you are going to a two-years a Master's program, then you must lso show that funds are or will likely be available to cover the same amount for the second year. Q. What if I have not yet received my degree certificate? A. Yes - you may still apply, but please be sure to include your Individual and consolidated mark Sheets and provisional certificate along with Course Completion Certificate duly signed and stamped with college seal by principal Q. How soon after getting my I-20 may I apply for the visa? A. You may apply for the visa no earlier than 90 days before the first day of school as indicated on the I-20 form. Q. What if I have received a full tuition waiver from my prospective university? You must prove that funds are immediately available to cover the first year's costs, and show evidence that funds will be available for all subsequent years. Any financial documentation you provide should be in support of this. This applies to ALL student visa applicants. Q. Does having a relative in the US affect visa application A. No. Q. What about a foreign sponsor? A. The motive has to be established clearly. Sixty per cent of the students, who go to the US for education, do so on some sort of aid. Education in the US is a costly proposition. So, if someone is funding you, then the US Consul would want to know why, and under what terms. Q. For a student visa with sponsorship, is it for or against one's case if the sponsor is (a) a US citizen, (b) an Indian citizen? A. There is no regulation for or against the nature of citizenship of the sponsor for US visa. Q. Is there a specific number or quota annually for student visas? A. There is no ceiling on student visas according to US immigration law. Q. I am a student going to US for PhD. My I-20 says that my funding is for one year, after which it will be reviewed. Will I have to show funds for the rest of the three-four years of study? A. At the visa office, the students must show funds (academic plus living) for one year, and access to funds for subsequent years. If your aid covers your overall expenses for the -to-day first year, then it is OK but it's better to show funds availability to take care of day expenses in US. Q. I get my visa on one I-20; then I get another I-20 from another school, which I now want to join. What will I have to do? A. You will have to apply for another visa. Q. How many attempts are allowed if visa is denied? A. Especially for Mumbai people two attempts in duration of two years, with a gap of three working days between each attempt. There is also a mail in facility after two attempts where you can mail the US Consulate your documents for review. What has to be kept in mind is that, with each new attempt some fresh documents have to be produced. Visa consuls go by the rules, and if same papers are submitted, then the application hardly stands a chance. But In the consulates of New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai where one has to attend for F1- Visa interview through www.ttsvisas.com one can attend any number of times without restriction but with a gap of three working days (don't include Saturdays and Sundays while counting). Every time you need to pay the application fee and it's better to apply only if you are able to show considerable change in your case, than your previous interview. Q. Does the reputation of the college have any bearing on my visa application? A. No. However, the reputation of the college establishes the motive. If you are going to a reputed college, intentions are clear. But if you are going to an institution no one has heard of, and which has not asked you to take any standard tests, then that makes the US consul suspicious. Though, in some cases, when students are going for some specialist courses, which are not offered anywhere else, a marginal school would do. Q. If I have been chosen by more than 10 schools, does that help? A. Yes, it establishes that you are a superstar. There is no direct relation, though it completes the picture for the consul, and helps them evaluate the case better. remember m the more i-20's you receive, there'sore chance for visa. Q. What should a student wishing a Graduate (Master's) study in the US do if he is financing his studies himself? A. He will have to show how he would transfer his funds from India to the US. Does he have a foreign exchange release permit from an authorized bank or a sponsor in the US to take care of his living and education in US dollars? Moreover, he should convince the US Consul that he has strong ties in India, which prove that he is not an intending immigrant. Q. For students going for further studies, what is considered as conclusive proof that they are coming back? How much assets or liquid cash on hand should be shown for a student visa? A. There is no fixed amount of assets or liquid cash specified in the US immigration law. The law that operates is that the interviewing US Consul should be convinced that the applicant is a bona fide student, wanting genuinely to pursue higher studies in America and return after his education to India and apply his knowledge in India. The ties that could be shown by students, would involve his economic attraction in India after graduation and social roots to which he would return rather than stay in the US. Statistics in the past have shown that 7 to 8 out of 10 students do not return and therefore the Consulates in India are very careful in granting student visas. Q. Is a student visa guaranteed when an I-20 form is issued by a University? A. A student visa is not guaranteed on the issuance of the I-20 alone as the applicant has to convince the US Consul that he is not an intending immigrant by showing proof of his permanent ties in India. Q. If sufficient funds are not available, can a loan from banks or other institutions help in getting a student visa? A. The US Consul will have to be convinced about the mode of repayment of the loan by the applicant. Practically, if loans are shown, then getting a visa becomes difficult. Q. For a student visa, can a student be partially sponsored by a US-based sponsor and partly by an India-based sponsor? A. The US Consul has to be convinced about the genuineness of the case. Prima facie, the case cannot be rejected because two sponsors are involved. Q. Do visas for students get rejected if the applicants have brothers and sisters in America? A. This is an individual situation. The decision depends on a case-by-case basis. If the US Consul feels that the applicant is trying to get to the US in the guise of a student with possible support of siblings in America, he may be rejected. Likewise, if the applicant's brother or sister had gone to the US on an NIV and adjusted status to permanent visa, the applicant does become a "risk candidate" and it will be then left to the judgment of the interviewing officer to decide. ********************************** HAT CONSULS (Visa Officers) LOOK FOR while issuing a F1-visa (as per www.state.gov) Evidence of Residence Abroad The consular officer may not issue a student visa unless satisfied that the applicant: (1) Has a residence abroad (India), (2) Has no intention of abandoning that residence, and (3) Intends to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study. Applicants generally establish their ties abroad by presenting evidence of economic, social, and/or family ties in their homeland sufficient to induce them to leave the United States upon the completion of studies. Evidence of English Proficiency I If the alien's Form -20 indicates that proficiency in English is required for pursuing the selected course of study and that no arrangements have been made to overcome any English-language deficiency, the consular officer must determine whether the alien has the necessary proficiency. To this end, the officer must conduct the visa interview in English and may require the applicant to read aloud from an English-language book, periodical, or newspaper, and to restate in English in the applicant's own words what was read. The applicant may also be asked to read aloud and explain several of the conditions set forth in the Form I-20. In the event that the applicant's language proficiency appears marginal, the officer may refer the applicant for language testing. Tests for this purpose will ordinarily be carried out by appropriate local groups, such as qualified host-country facilities. If the latter are used, the consular officer should be satisfied that the testing standards are sufficiently strict. However, if the local situation requires the consular officer to determine the language proficiency of applicants, materials such as the Test of English Language Proficiency (TEPL) may be available at the post. If not, they may be requested from the Department, through the post's Public Affairs Officer. Determining Financial Status of F-1 Students The phrase "sufficient funds to cover expenses" referred to in 41.61(b)(2) REGS/STATS means the applicant must establish the unlikelihood of either becoming a public charge as defined in INA 212(a)(4) or of resorting to unauthorized U.S. employment for financial support. An applicant must provide documentary evidence that sufficient funds are, or will be, available to defray all expenses during the entire period of anticipated study. This does not mean that the applicant must have cash immediately available to cover the entire period of intended study, which may last several years. The consular officer must, however, require credible documentary evidence that the applicant has enough readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study. The officer also must be satisfied that, barring unforeseen circumstances, adequate funds will be available for each subsequent year of study from the same source or from one or more other specifically identified and reliable financial sources. Funds From Source(s) Outside the United States Whenever an applicant indicates financial support from a source outside the United States (for example, from parents living in the country of origin), the consular officer must determine whether there are restrictions on the transfer of funds from the country concerned. If so, the consular officer must require acceptable evidence that these restrictions will not prevent the funds from being made available during the period of the applicant's projected stay in the United States. Affidavits of Support or Other Assurances by an Interested Party Various factors are important in evaluating assurances of financial support by interested parties: Financial support to a student is not a mere formality to facilitate the applicant's entry into the United States, nor does it pertain only when the alien cannot otherwise provide adequate personal support. Rather, the sponsor must ensure that the applicant will not become a public charge or be compelled to take unauthorized employment while studying in the United States. This obligation commences when the alien enters the United States and continues until the alien's departure. The consular officer must require documentary evidence to resolve any doubt that the financial status of the person giving the assurance is sufficient to substantiate the assertion that financial support is available to the applicant. If the person giving the assurance is in the United States in nonimmigrant status, the consular officer must examine the evidence presented with exceptional care. Is the sponsor's financial situation sufficient to provide the funds without need to resort to unauthorized employment? Is it likely to worsen during the period of the commitment, possibly compelling the applicant or the sponsor to resort to unauthorized employment? Will the nonimmigrant sponsor remain in the United States at least as long as the student? The consular officer must also carefully evaluate the factors, which would motivate a sponsor to honor a commitment of financial support. If the sponsor is a close relative of the applicant, there may be a greater probability that the commitment will be honored than if the sponsor is not a relative. Regardless of the relationship, the consular officer must be satisfied that the reasons prompting the offer of financial support make it likely the commitment will be fulfilled. Funds From Fellowships and Scholarships for F-1 Student A college or university may arrange for a nonimmigrant student to engage in research projects, give lectures, or perform other academic functions as part of a fellowship, scholarship or assistantship grant, provided the institution certifies that the student will also pursue a full course of study. Educational Qualifications for F-1Students Consular officers are not expected to assume the role of guidance counselor to determine whether an applicant for an F-1 visa is qualified to pursue the desired course of study. cant The institution will satisfy itself on the student's abilities before accepting the appli for enrollment. Consular officers should, however, be alert to three specific factors in this regard: (1) The applicant has successfully completed a course of study equivalent to that normally required of an American student seeking enrollment at the same level. (2) Cases in which an applicant has submitted forged or altered transcripts of previous or related study or training which the institution has accepted as valid, and, (3) Cases in which an institution has accepted an applicant's allegedprevious course of study or training as the equivalent of its normal requirements when, in fact, such is not the case. Relationship of Education or Training Sought To Existence of Ties Abroad ld The fact that a student's proposed education or training wou not appear to be useful in the homeland is not, in itself, a basis for refusing an F-1. It may, however, be a relevant factor in the overall assessment of the likelihood of the alien's return. This may be particularly true where F-1 coursework is advanced far beyond local needs. Some important facts on f1 visa 1. Visa issuance is a very objective decision, and is not subjective: Every visa official has a list of requirements he looks for in a visa application. If they are met, then, he issues the visa. If not, he doesn't. It is how these requirements are met that makes a visa decision seem subjective. For instance, take the requirement of showing that you will return to India. If you provide unambiguous pragmatic evidence pointing to reasons for return, he will have no reason not to grant a visa. US Visa Official Quote: "Give a rational, objective reason that even a banker would believe". If, on the other hand, you only play with words and have nothing substantial to show, it looks like a subjective decision, since it is based upon subjective evidence. 2. Proper documents are only half the story: Visa officials know that documents in India can be easily forged. So what is on paper is not enough. What you say, how you say it, matters a lot. Sometimes it can even make up for inadequate documentation. US Visa Official Quote: "Some people complain that we did not see their documents. Remember, if we go through your documents when you are standing there, then that is a negative sign. It means we don't believe you and are checking the documents for proof or for grounds to reject you. So not seeing your documents in front of you is a good thing for you." 3. Success Rates of Visa: Success Rates of Visa Issuance (overall) is 60 %. i.e. 60% of all applicants, across all categories, are issued visas. 40 % are rejected. Success Rates of specific visas: Visa - Success Rate J1 Visa - 75 % F1 Visa - 65 % M1 Visa - 35 % US Visa official Quote: "People who are between 18 and 37 and single attract our attention". 4. How to increase your chances of Success? A. Legitimate Student: Show that you have a coherent plan of study. e.g. B.A. English in undergrad in India then MS in Computer Science in US is not a coherent plan. B.E. Electronics & Communications then M S (Telecommunications) is very clearly coherent. Also, try linking the plan of study to India. There should be a connection between past study and future plan. B: Reputation of School: The better the ranking of the school that you finally choose, the higher your chances of getting a visa. Visa officials have actually been quoted saying that they never cancelled the visa application of a Harvard or Stanford student (they don't even look at anything else if he has a Harvard offer). Of course, everybody doesn't get Harvard, but then if you choose an obscure university, your chances of a visa decrease correspondingly, as suspicion about your choice rises. The official thinks, "he's going there only to get to the US, there are better univs than this in India". C: Exclusiveness of course: If the course chosen is not offered in India, then it is a positive sign - as long as you can still show that it is logically related to your past studies. So you can't choose Evangelism after a BSc Chem. and then say, "it's not offered in India". Well, actually, you can but you have to show compelling reason why you want that subject. D: Evidence of having researched all options: Show all schools that you chose (say, printouts of web sites, Photostats of brochures), show clearly which ones you short listed and why, which ones you got offers from, which ones you chose and why. Basically, show yourself as a thorough student. E: Proper documentation of previous study: Have original copies of Board certificates, college degrees, diplomas, extra courses, etc. Also have original results of GRE, A-GRE TOEFL, TSE and other standardized tests handy. F: Show proof of networking (if any) with professors: If you have sent mails to(or written to) professors, have copies of the mails ready to show, to establish seriousness of intent to study and to show that you consider your education as an investment. G: Multiple Offers: If you have received offers from many universities, show that. Especially if you have a scholarship offer from a lower ranked university and are still going to a higher one, then attach proof of this with your application. H: Be Systematic: Carry a folder with the covering letter and all these papers in order, so that (a) you don't fumble around in front of the counter window looking for the right papers (b) you look systematic and thorough. Dear Friends - All the best for visa. ******************************************************************* DETAILED VISA PHOTO GUIDELINES (with effect from March 17, 2003.) New F1-Visa Photograph Requirements The photograph format required for the nonimmigrant visa has changed. This new format is similar to that required for U.S. passport processing. Submit your Nonimmigrant Visa Application, DS-156 with the new photo format, as explained below. The photograph for each visa applicant must be an unmounted, full-face photo, as described below 1. The photograph must have been taken within the last six months 2. One (1) photograph must be submitted stapled or glued to the application DS-156. 3. Photo Size - The photo for each visa applicant submitted must measure: 2 by 2 inches (roughly 50 mm square) with the head centered in the frame. The head (measured from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin) should measure between 1 inch to 1 3/8 inches (25 mm to 35 mm) with the eye level between 1 1/8 inch to 1 3/8 inches (28 mm and 35 mm) from the bottom of the photo 4. Photo Appearance - Photos should be printed without borders. The photograph must be a full-face view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly. The applicant should not look down or to either side, and the face should cover about 50 percent of the photo area. Side or angled views are NOT accepted. 5. The photograph may be in color or black and white, but must have only a white or off- white background. Photos with dark, busy, or patterned backgrounds will not be accepted. should be shown from the In general, the applicant's head, including both face and hair, crown of the head to the tip of the chin on top and bottom and from hairline side-to-side. It is preferable that ears be exposed. 6. Head coverings and hats are only acceptable due to religious beliefs, and even then, may not cover any portion of the applicant's face. 7. Sunglasses or other wear, which detracts from the face, are not acceptable unless required for medical reasons (an eye patch, for example). 8. A photograph depicting a person wearing a traditional facemask or veil that does not permit adequate identification is not acceptable. 9. Photos of military, airline, or other personnel wearing hats are not acceptable. Photographs of applicants wearing tribal, national costume, or other headgear not specifically religious in nature are not acceptable. 10. Digital Photos - Digitally reproduced photographs must be reproduced without discernible pixels or dot patterns. Photocopied photographs are NOT accepted. 11. Attaching the Photo to the DS-156 - Staple or glue the one photograph to the DS-156 in the designated space. If the photograph is stapled, staples should be placed as far away as possible from the applicant's face. 12. Do not enclose photographs in glassine or other types of envelopes. The photograph must be stapled or glued properly to the DS- 156 in the designated space. Interview Preparation Many applicants will be missing a beat or two at the thought of Visa Interview. Its like sudden rise in adrenaline levels, exciting, bewildering and intimidating. So we thought of sharing some tips on interviews so that the whole affair can be carried away with a sense of peace. Remember that there is no substitute for preparation. So prepare well for all aspects of the interview. Preparing for the Interview: * Go through respective consulate web site to know more about the rules and other happenings, go through FAQ of F1 student visa. * Everything a student wants to know about F1 visa is readily available in the consulate web sites. Try to see and understand every link in the site, so that you will get 1st hand information about everything, which will increase your comfortable level and confidence. * Try to understand what the Visa Officer (VO) is expecting from you folks, in order to issue F1-Visa for you. * US consulate is your first chance of meeting the US officials on your way to USA. Its time for you to look ahead and meet them in a dignified, balanced and professional way ly and get the visa stamping to USA. But don't meet them shakily, nervous and loose the chance of education in USA. Don't try to take any chance with visa. Be focused on your goals and prepare well to reach them confidently. * Behave like a True professional when meeting USA officials for interview. * Some questions were given at the end of this mail for your information. * Prepare answers to most commonly asked questions. Make sure your answers are focusing on your achievements, skills, you being a sincere student, proof of having sufficient funds and your intentions of coming back to India after completion of your graduate and/or Research programs. * Rehearse the answers to common and specific questions either by taping your answers or by attending a mock interview with your friends and have their opinions and reviews and if you feel you are lacking at some points, try to improve them till you become perfect. * Know your strengths and weaknesses, and then try to overcome them in interviews by good preparation and practice beforehand. Practice makes perfect. *Practice to speak clearly and slowly, naturally (as you speak always), so that interviewer can understand what you are saying. Your answers should reflect clarity of thought and gging clarity of your intentions. Don't talk too fast sacrificing clarity; Don't be dra either. Avoid mannerisms such as "you see", "I mean", "Sort of" "Ya Ya". When you want to differ with VO or want to present a different view to VO, use phrases such as "Let us look at this from a different angle" and present your views. * Read your financial documents thoroughly and ask yourself possible questions from them. You should be able to defend and support your documents be it Academics, qualifying exams scores and financial documents in all ways possible. * Carry all documents in an order in a folder with multiple pouches (Like harmonium folder). So that you can put different set of documents into different pouches (like University documents set, Scores set, Marks sheets set, financial documents set, property documents set etc) it will be very easy for you to remove and present them to VO without any time waste, whenever asked for. The speed at which you are able to show the relevant document whenever asked for also counts a lot. At Interview * Use formal dress to appear for interview. * Use Executive clothing; deep and bright colors may not suit the occasion.Clothes have to be clean and ironed to represent order and discipline. * Carry only relevant documents. * Do not present any certificates unless asked for. * Remember to collect all the certificates given for perusal at the interview. And if you had any doubts clarify there itself. * Greet the interviewer first, even if VO is not listening or not looking at you. * While answering questions remember to look at the interviewer instead of looking down. Keep continuous eye contact with visa officer throughout the interview. * Avoid bad body language and mannerisms like touching moustache, scratching nose, or arranging hair or any kind of unwanted things as per the interview norms. * Listen to questions carefully to comprehend. If you have not understood a question, politely request for a repeat. * Give short answers unless asked for longer ones. If possible always be prepared with two sets of answers for questions, both long and short. First give short answer and if VO asks for details then give long answer or explain in detail. So that you will be still in comfort zone. * Exude confidence but not arrogance. * Mouth all words clearly and speak loud enough to hear. * Answer immediately without wasting time. * Avoid being too humorous or ironical in your answers. But little fun with good sense of humor is always welcome. * Keep looking at the VO and never at other things in the room or at other counters. of * Don't become conscious others looking at you or watching. Remember its your visa and your future. Between VO and you no one exists. * Give authentic information about any details connected with your documents. Remember they can cross-verify any detail within no time. * Answers should not be given in a raised voice even when the question comes in that manner. Remember VO will be having tough time too, with huge volumes of applicants and asking same questions and listening almost identical answers day in and day out. They too will be under great pressure to issue a visa till the applicant intentions and arranging of funds are made clear to them. It's not that we should feel comfortable in interview, but in our personal opinion we should also make VO comfortable by presenting all facts and figures in a systematic and organized way of answering, presenting documentary evidence whenever necessary or asked for. * Never become desperate, wearisome and tiresome even if the interview is going in a long way than expected. Still try to maintain your composure, looking positive, confident and smiling. * Answer questions in simple single sentences. Use a language that is easy to understand but formal in its usage. * Avoid giving additional information unless asked for it. * If you are complimented for your answers, achievements, scores and percentages, remember to thank the VO. * Avoid repeating the phrases or words. Remember you have gone through GRE and TOEFL and speak accordingly. * Keep a smiling face so as to welcome any questions. * It is un-wise to contradict an answer through a subsequent answer. Always stick to the same answer whenever asked for. * An applicants behavior should convince the VO about the quality of personality that the candidate has. * Avoid any exhibition of emotions other than the feelings of welcoming questions and ready to give the answers. * You have to make the answers short, to the point and precise. * Develop Language skills including good pronunciation and effective expressions. * Use simple yet forceful language. * Practice to arrange facts logically. * Meet difficult questions with a smile. * Don't be unduly emotional during interview. * If you present an argument give facts to support it. * Continue to be pleasant throughout interview and a smile helps a lot. * Check your body language. * Be polite: Show no signs of arrogance or superiority. * Never give an impression that you are desperate to go to USA. * Never give an impression that you are confused at any point of time. if * Don't get disheartened any of your views are answers were were shunned by VO or VO not listening to you. Sometimes VO wants to test your patience. Just stay positive. * Just Be confident of your success. Give answers confidently, boldly, and visa will be yours. On final note, thank the interviewer for his time. Some More Tips: (suggested by students in groups) * Learn about research areas in your major at your university. * Be confident and positive throughout, and apply presence of mind. ious * Don't contradict your prev answer in your next answer. * Have a good memory of CA statement b4 going to consulate – Various sources of incomes and amounts. * Stick to same answers even if Vo is asking the same questions again and again. * Write your name address phone no passport no at back of DD's or write as per your consulate rules * Sign i-20 before going to consulate. * Be relaxed and don't show that you are desperate to go to US. * Avoid calling the officers Sir excessively, which will be irritating to them. * Avoid saying pardon, come again, I didn't get you, Just say something expecting question based on document in his hand. * If you guessed wrong question he will question you again. * Watch the lips of the person while you are at counter as if you are not able to listen to them cause of bad quality of speakers, you can at-least guess question from lip movements, at worst you can at-least understand VO is asking you something. * Don't give more information than needed or asked by them. * Answer only to question; do not try to justify your answer unless asked. * Do not let your answers contradict values from your Statements. Be careful in this regard. * Study thoroughly the complete documentation mentioned in the CA statement, especially if it is family friend and be prepared for questions on them like what is the sponsor's income, what is the value of the property, how much of the funds is in liquid / semi-liquid form. * Be prepared with convincing / strong reasons for returning to your homeland. (Present and Future employment options of your chosen field, Family, business, financial set-up, etc.) * Make Eye contact. Look at VO when he/she is speaking. Don't look away while answering or listening. * Act natural. * Listen to the question carefully and let the interviewer complete the question before you answer. * Answer confidently and honestly. * Show enthusiasm and optimism throughout the interview. * Admit honestly, if you don't know the answer. Nobody knows everything. However, explain that you are willing and have the ability to learn, given a chance or say something like " I am slightly out of touch in that area..." * Bring up the key words that the VO is looking for from you like "after coming back to India" or "when I come back to India after MS", during the interview, whenever possible. * Do have positive attitude and remember attitude is everything. * Do not feel nervous. Nobody is going to hurt you. * Do not be overaggressive. * Do not jump to answers after listening to half the question * Do not over answer or under answer. Answer to the point. * Don't have negative attitude or don't be pessimistic regarding the outcome. Some sample behaviors of people who take initiatives for which VO is searching for in an interview are - whether applicant: * Knows how to answer questions. * Knows how to deal with uncertainty. * Exudes (or shows) confidence and professionalism. * Takes advantage of opportunities to learn. * Finds ways to stay motivated. * Does what it takes to get the job done. * Shows commitment. * Self Confidence, Goal Oriented, Focused, Driven, and Sense of Conviction * Willingness to learn new things. * Establish Rapport. Final Note: * Just be cool, confident and vibe well with VO. * Whenever there's a chance, flash a smil e. * Whenever an embarrassing question was asked, and you don't know how to answer, just flash a smile, have two invisible deep breaths and start saying the relevant thing. * Be positive in all actions and expect positive outcome. Have good body language. * Even the interview is going the other way also don't loose your confidence. Things will be on-track again in your favor if you are confident and stay positive. * Don't give big answers, just precise and to -the-point answers will do, unless asked for. * No need to explain tons and tons of things. * Have a precise answer for how you are arranging funds. Give a gist of your sponsor's financial position and if VO asks to explain, then only give detailed answer for that. Be prepared with a good answer, both precise one and a detailed one. * Don't show any document until asked for. * Most important thing is presence of mind and with that you should be able to get the interview always on track. It's only in you how to get the interview back on track. Golden Rules for Visa: * Looking good and confident. * Looking disciplined and organized. * Sounding natural in accent and communication. * Maintaining eye-to-eye contact with VO throughout interview. * Staying positive throughout. * Clarity of thought in expressing views. * Speaking Loud with confidence. * Having good presence of mind. * Showing good knowledge about your area of interest. * Having good and credible future plans. * Proving you as a serious student in studies. * A little bit of sense of humor. * Exude professionalism in whatever you do & * Smile and put Visa Officer at ease. Sample Visa Interview Questions: * Why the specified University. * Which Universities did you apply to? (Both admits and rejects)? * Show me your GRE scorecard. * Where did you Undergraduate? * Who is sponsoring you? * What does your father do? * What is your father's Income? * How many brothers and sisters do you have? * Do you have any relatives in USA? * What will you do after completing MS? * Show your Experience Certificate. (If you are going to studies after some work experience) * Why Study in USA. * Did you got any Scholarships? * Why haven't you got any scholarship? * Have you got any Loans? * Show your Pass Books/Bank statements. * What is your Undergraduate GPA/Percentage? * Parents retired? Then how will they pay? * Tell about your university. * Mention some professor names * Tell me how can you prove that you are going to come back? * Where did your brother/parents complete their studies? * Why are you leaving your current job? (If you are working) * Have you ever been to US? * What will you do after coming back to Home? * You have so...brothers and sisters so your fathers saving are for all, Then how will he/ you finance? * Where do your parents live (If they live in USA)? * Do you know anyone (in USA) / in your University? * What will you do if your Visa is rejected? * Will you come back to home during summers? * What do you think? Why University is giving Scholarship to you... * Why do you wish to study in the US and not in India? * If you have changed field of specialization, (for ex. If you are BE Mechanical and opting for MS in computer science) then what brought about the change? * What steps have you taken to ensure that you will be able to perform well in the new field you wish to change to? * What do you plan to study at the university? * How many universities did you apply for? * Which universities accepted you? * Why did you select this particular university? * What are your plans after graduation? * How will you finance your education funds for 2 years or 3 years? (generally you have to prove that you can fund the first year of your education but we suggest that you be prepared with this answer)? * Do you have a brother / sister, or any other relative already at this university? In some cases VO's have asked questions like * Tell me about yourself? * What are your hobbies? * What does success mean to you? * Where do you plan to be in 5 years from now? * Tell about your achievements? * What are your strengths? * What are your weaknesses? * How did you prepare for this interview? * What will you do if you your visa was rejected? * Describe your dream career? * What are you looking for, from life? Give answers to the above questions in relation to, or resulting career after your masters program and your coming back to India context only. **** WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY VISA IS REJECTED **** What should I do if my Visa application is rejected? If the application has been rejected for reasons that are rectifiable (such as incomplete documentation or discrepancy in passport entries or the validity of the passport not extending long enough), these can be rectified and a fresh application made. If the application has been rejected for the reason that you have not shown sufficient financial means, providing additional proof of finance can also rectify this mistake. If the application has been rejected for any other reason, you can appeal to a higher functionary in the Consular Office. The procedure of such appeal will be available in the Consular Office itself. The appeal will usually be heard on the same day or the next and a decision given thereafter. Even if your first appeal is rejected, you can make a written second appeal with the required documents, without your having to appear in person before the appellate authority. We know of a number of cases in which students who have been denied visa twice earlier were granted the Visa in pursuance of the written appeal. Therefore, you should try this possibility also if it becomes necessary. Do not be nervous when you go for the Visa interview. Remember that there is a shortage of technical manpower of superior standards in USA and in spite of the seemingly difficult Visa formalities, the US government in fact wants persons with talent of high caliber to go for higher studies in USA and then take up jobs there so as to make positive contributions to its economy. So, if you have such credentials, you stand a very good chance of securing the Visa. Even if one your close relatives in USA or any other foreign country is willing to extend financial support for your studies in USA, it is preferable for him/her to send you funds required for the first year to India once you get a favorable decision on admission and before you go for the Visa interview. This will enable you to tell the Consular officer that you have the sufficient financial resources in India itself to meet your expenses. Showing a distant relative such as uncle/aunt/cousin etc. as a sponsor can also lead to problems at the visa interview, because US authorities would not normally believe that anyone other than one's own parents or a brother would spend lakhs of rupees on your education. Therefore, even if your uncle is willing to help you financially, it is advisable that he transfers the money in your name a couple of months before you go for the Visa interview, and you show it as your own. Some universities insist that at the time you submit your application for admission, you should also produce a certificate from your bank that you or your sponsor have sufficient funds to meet your expenses for the full course of study. Other universities may ask for such a certificate only after they take a decision to grant you admission but before issuing the I-20 form to you. The form of the certificate is usually prescribed by the university itself and will be bound in the application form. Otherwise, you can get the certificate from your bank manager in the following form on the letterhead of the bank, with the seal of the bank.
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