Documents for Visa

During the visa interview, you are required to carry numerous documents. While preparing the documentation, make sure your surname and given name match on all your documentation. Also, verify that all other information is correct and up-to-date.

Here is the list of documentation required for getting a F1 Visa. Make sure you follow this checklist while preparing your folder for the visa interview:

  • Valid passport. You are recommended to have passport valid for at least six months beyond your interview date.

  • Visa fee receipt issued by HDFC Bank and interview appointment letter.

  • SEVIS generated Form I-20 in original, approved and signed by the University authority.

  • Proof of payment of SEVIS Fee Receipt I-901, if applicable.

  • One 2 x 2-inch photograph (not more than six months old) as per specification.

  • Original signed form DS-156.

  • Original Form DS-157 and DS-158.

  • Evidence of financial resources: proof of liquid assets sufficient to pay for the entire first year of education and living expenses as well as proof of readily available funds to cover the remaining year(s) of studies.

  • Original degree certificates along with mark sheets.

  • Original Bachelor degree transcripts or high school diploma along with mark sheets from previous institutions attended.

  • Relevant test scores, e.g. TOEFL and SAT, GRE, GMAT or LSAT.

  • Work Experience Certificates, if applicable.
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After I-20: Applying for a Visa

After getting your I-20 from the university you intend to attend, the next important step is applying for your visa. The students who wish to enter the US for full-time education purposes are eligible for an F1 visa. If you would bring along your spouse or dependents, they will require an F2 visa.

The visa dates should be taken as early as possible after you get your I-20 form. The dates run out soon during the busy season. A student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20. This post will elucidate the visa application process.

Paying the Visa Fees:

All applicants have to pay the visa application fees at a designated branch of HDFC bank (branch list) before applying for a visa. The fees is currently around Rs.5800 and is valid for 365 days. You will be given 2 copies of the receipts. Please retain them carefully and don't loose them. The visa fee receipt will be activated after 2 working days.

Visa Application and Interview Slot Booking:

After your receipt has been activated, you are ready to fill in the visa application and book an interview slot. The visa booking website for US consulates in India is:
- Click on "Apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa".
- Click on continue
- Click on "NO" in the question of "DO YOU HAVE A BEP USER ID".
- Click on Create a New Application
- Follow the instructions and fill the application forms.
- Select an appointment date as per your convenience.
- You will also need to complete Form DS-156, Form DS-157 and Form DS-158.

Download and take print-outs of all the forms and the interview letter.


Before your visa interview, you must pay the SEVIS fee (around $100) (SEVIS I-901 fee) of $100 and obtain a SEVIS fee payment receipt. You should pay it at least before 3 working days from your visa interview date. To pay the fees, log on to:
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How to Interact with Americans

While going to a new country, you would notice many cultural differences. Americans have a different culture and have different habits of interacting with others. This article peeps into a few aspects of interacting with others.

In US, men usually shake hands with each other the first time they meet. Men usually do not shake hands with women unless the woman extends her hand first. Women do not usually shake hands with each other. A university setting is usually very informal. Students who meet one another will normally not shake hands at all. A student could shake hands with a professor or staff person if introduced, but not usually with a fellow student.

American names generally have three parts: the first (or given) name, the middle name or initial, and the last (family) name. People may call each other by their first names immediately after they have met. When deciding whether to call people by their first name of not, the following general rules apply: Address people of your approximate age and status by first name. This would apply to fellow students and neighbors. If the other person is clearly older than you, you should use Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. and the last name. "Ms." (pronounced "Mizz") is increasingly used for both unmarried and married females. If a student is not certain whether or not a woman is married, "Miss" or "Ms." is the appropriate term to use. If the other person has a title such as "Ambassador," "Doctor," or "Dean," use that title and the last name. Any faculty member can be addressed as "Doctor," whether he holds the rank of assistant professor, associate professor or full professor. Again, the other person might ask you to address him by his first name, and you should abide by that wish.

When two people are first introduced, the dialogue normally goes something like: "How do you do?" "Fine, thank you. How are you?" "Fine, thanks." After the first meeting, there are two kinds of greetings. The more formal is "Good Morning," "Good afternoon," or "Good Evening." The less formal is simply "Hello" or just "Hi." You may simply say "Good Morning," "Hi," or whatever is said to you, in response. Any of these greetings may be followed by "How are you?" To this one should answer "Fine, thank you," whether you are fine or not! The American casual parting remark "See you later," means "goodbye," and does not mean that the person saying it has a specific intention to see you later.

You will probably have opportunities to visit an American home. In the United States you should never say that you accept an invitation unless you truly intend to do so. It is polite to notify your hostess of any last minute change of plans, and of any dietary restrictions you have. If you do not know what clothing could be appropriate to wear for the occasion, simply ask: "What should I wear?", ask the host or hostess to describe the type of outfit appropriate.

Punctuality is usually essential, especially if you have been invited for a meal or for a cocktail party. You may be thought inconsiderate and impolite if you do not arrive at the appointed hour. Again, it is a very good idea to notify your hostess if you will be more than 15 minutes late. If you wish to bring a gift, a bouquet of flowers or a box of candy is always appropriate. Always bring a small gift when you are invited as a houseguest for an extended visit, like a weekend. If the host or hostess is preparing the meal, it is polite to ask if you can help with any preparations. Guests should offer their help in cleaning up after dinner. Your host or hostess will tell you whether he/she needs extra help or not. Always abide by his/her wishes.
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Calender for Fall 2009

The process for securing admission in a US university is a long one. It typically requires you to start the procedure almost a year ahead of from the start date of your course.

For students who would wish to pursue their graduate studies in the US starting Fall 2009, here's a calender elucidating the ideal time for each step of the admission process. It lists the general tasks required by all prospective students.
  • April - June 2008:
    Start early. Select the right course you want to pursue. Get in touch with others to help you decide. Check out the exams you require to take, such as the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL. Book a date and start preparing for the exams. [Exam Resources: GRE, TOEFL]

  • July-September 2008:
    Take the desired exams. Start short-listing the universities you plan to attend. Have a tentative list of atleast 4 universities for free score reporting of the test scores.

  • October-December 2008:
    Finalize the list of universities you intend to apply. Start preparing documents for the application process. Do keep a track of the application deadlines, to make sure you don't miss any. You can learn more about the application process at: All About US Admissions.

  • January-April 2009:
    Wait for the decisions, its a long and frightening wait. Start getting the coveted admits and don't get upset if you get a few rejects. You'll receive your I-20 during this time.

  • May-June 2009:
    Get ready for the visa interview. Book your date and prepare the documents. Your stamp for going to the US is just round the corner.

  • July-August 2009:
    Take a flight to your destination. Its US Calling :-)
    Don't forget to read the pre-departure tips to make your life easier at: Destination-USA

The time-lines mentioned are for ideal and smooth process and may vary as per individual cases. If you have any doubts, feel free to post a comment.

P.S.:Check out the right panel to subscribe and get updates from this blog. You'll get a lot of timely information related to US admissions.
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Good News: OPT for 29 Months Now

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students. This new rule will benefit students pursuing degree in degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students in F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than 9 months are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for at most one year on a student visa without needing to acquire a work H-1B visa towards getting a practical training to complement their field of studies.

This is a boon for pending H1-B applicants, who would now have more chances to apply for an H1-B status. Though there are many clauses which have to satisfied to obtain the extended work limit, but, most of the students would satisfy these. So, most of the students can safely assume that they can work for atleast 29 months after their course completion.

Another aspect of the rule responds to the situation in which an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expires before he or she can begin employment under the H-1B visa program. The interim final rule addresses this problem by automatically extending the period of stay and work authorization for all F-1 students with pending H-1B petitions. The rule will also implement certain programmatic changes, including allowing students to apply for OPT within 60 days of graduation.

To read the complete notification, click here.
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