Don’t get stopped at the gate: USA scholarship VISA requirements

Your experience in the USA awaits – but don’t let your dream of a USA Scholarship get delayed at the border, you need to make sure your VISA is sorted. The USA is notoriously strict with their VISA requirements, so you need to apply in advance and ensure everything is in place, so you avoid running into any issues.

What VISA will I need?

You will need to apply for an F1-student VISA to begin your exciting new journey in America, this is suitable for study at all academic institutions as a student-athlete as well as part time, on campus employment of less than 20 hours a week. 

Get your place sorted

Once we’ve guided you through applying and getting accepted to a US institution of higher education, you can then apply for your VISA. You need to have your place confirmed before you will be accepted for a VISA which you may only use for this particular institution.

Fill in the forms

Once you’ve been accepted to a school, you will receive a Form I-20 which you will need to complete and also has your SEVIS ID so you can pay your SEVIS fee of $200.

You then need to find your nearest US embassy online to apply for your VISA, you will need to complete the Form DS-160. You’ll need your passport, the I-20 and a VISA photograph to upload, but you may need additional documents such as a CV depending on the embassy.

Once the form is completed, you’ll need to bring it with you to your VISA interview.

The Interview

Sorting out your VISA interview early is advisable since waiting times vary. Everyone applying for a VISA needs to pay an application fee of $160 but whether this is prior to the interview or after it depends on the embassy. If you are required to pay before you should bring your receipt as proof of payment to your interview.

Your interview is the final stage in the application process, but it is also the most important as it is the deciding factor in whether you receive your US student VISA or not, so you need to be prepared. 

You will need your passport, a copy of your VISA photograph, your printed DS-160, SEVIS fee confirmation and your Form I-20 for all embassies. Your particular embassy, however, may require additional documentation – so make sure you check. 

The interview involves a security check, taking your fingerprints and numerous questions about why you want to study at your chosen institution and your intentions after completing your course. You can find sample questions online to better prepare for your interview but the main thing you need to emphasise is that you do not intend to remain in America after your studies unless otherwise authorised post University studies, but this would require attaining a new visa. 

You need to have a passport valid for travel to the US for at least 6 months after your stay in the US, but you need to show you intend to return to your foreign residence once you’ve completed your studies. With this VISA, you’re allowed to stay in the US for 60 days after you’ve finished your course, so you have a couple of months if you want to make the most of your time overseas by travelling. At the end of your interview, you will leave your passport with the embassy until they have processed your application.

What next?

The processing time will vary depending on your embassy, if you have been approved, your passport with enclosed VISA will either be delivered to you or you will be notified to collect it. You may potentially receive your VISA 120 days prior to your program start date, but you are only permitted to travel to the US 30 days before starting. Most VISA applications are accepted but make sure you apply early, have sufficient funds and provide proof of your intent of returning to your home country. 

Have questions about the US visa process, get in touch with our team for first-hand experience and advice.