US F1 visa process for indian students

This blog discusses 4 very important points which need to be followed step by step with precision:
1.VISA APPLICATION PROCESS 
2.SEVIS FEE
3.LIST OF DOCS TO BE CARRIED
4.Financial Documents
 
 
SECTION 1: VISA APPLICATION
 
Application Procedure:
 
1.Determine your consular district and visa type.
( we can schedule a visa appointment at a consulate which has jurisdiction over the state where you have been staying for past 6 months)
 
2. Obtain a photo that can be uploaded and meets form specifications
 
3. Access the form DS-160. Complete your DS-160 application online. Save often to your desktop! Answer questions as thoroughly as possible before submitting, as incomplete forms may not be accepted. Before filing this form we require: I20, Colored scanned Photograph, Passport
 
2) Select the US Embassy where you are scheduling your interview appointment 
3) Upload your Photograph (JPEG format) 
4) Enter relevant details and fill the DS- 160 form 
5) Once you have filled the form take 3 print outs of the CEAC Confirmation Page using a Laser Printer.
 
Notes – 
• The DS-160 “times out” after 20 minutes without user activity, and your data will be lost. To safeguard against data loss, click the “Save” button frequently and download and save the file. Select a place on your computer to save the application file, browse to that location, and click the “Save” button on the “Save As” window.
 
• The completed DS-160 application form will generate an alpha-numeric barcode confirmation page. Print this page using a laser printer. Ink-jet or dot-matrix printers do provide sufficient resolution to print a usable barcode.
 
• Once you have printed the barcode confirmation page, hit the “Back” button and email yourself the same so you have a backup copy. The emailed file will be in PDF format, and thus requires Adobe to view or print.
 
4. Pay the visa application fee at an approved HDFC bank.
 
How do I pay this fee?
Three options : 
1) Cash (Highly Recommended) 
2) Demand Draft 
3) HDFC Bank Cheque
 
What’s next?
After you pay the fee, you will get two copies of the receipt – One Pink and One Blue. Keep these safely. We will see what to do with them later. There will be a barcode sticker on both receipts with the same number. Please note this number since you will need it to login to the VFS site.
Your barcode number will be activated two working days after you pay the fee. You cannot login to the forms till then.
Currently the fee required is: F1 Student – Academic
                                                   $140     INR 6580
 
5. Make your appointment using your barcode number and visa fee receipt. If appropriate, use the “coworkers/family members traveling together” option. Then, download and print your VFS appointment letter.
 
With the help of CEAC (as given on your DS160) and HDFC Barcode, now you need to book Interview Appointment date online.
 
• Log on to http://www.vfs-usa.co.in and click on ALL ABOUT VISAS on the left hand side of the webpage. 
• Click on Non-Immigrant Visa and then select purpose of travel – Student 
• Click on ALL ABOUT APPOINTMENTS, fill the requested details, click on CONTINUE 
• Access the VFS online appointment system to schedule appointments or cancel appointments.
• Select Language for Interview as English and Purpose for Travel as’ Studying in USA”. Select Visa Class as F1. 
• Enter HDFC Fee receipt details, followed by SEVIS Details (given on the right hand side of your I-20), fill in personal details along with CEAC Barcode and passport courier delivery address. 
• Once you click on CONTINUE FOR CONFIRMATION option, you can see available dates marked in Green and Underlined. — You can select a date for Interview, thereby you can download Interview Appointment Letter, Checklist and Guidance sheet. Do select a date that most suitable to you as it is difficult to modify or change later. 
• Print your Confirmation Letter with CEAC Barcode, the Interview Appointment Letter and the Checklist Of documents to be submitted to VFS prior to the interview.
 
6. For Mumbai district applicants only: Drop off your required documents IN PERSONatleast three working days prior to your appointment at a VFS center in Mumbai, Pune or Ahmedabad.<I have covered these documents later >
 
7. Report for your interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate fifteen minutes before your appointment. For Hyderabad Consulate please report one hour before your scheduled reporting time. Carry appropriate documents and follow security regulations. All applicants can find a list of documents under their visa type in the All About Visas – Non-Immigrant Visas section.
<I have added the list of documents + additional documents that needs to be presented later>
 
The interview is held at the Consulate Office, not VFS. Report at least 60 minutes prior to your appointment time. Carry your Interview Appointment Letter, Confirmation Letter with CEAC Barcode, HDFC Fee Receipt, Photographs, Passport, SEVIS Registration and all original supporting documents as per the checklist.
If you are issued a visa, your passport will be returned to you via courier to the address mentioned by you.
 
8) Approved visas are returned by courier. Click here to track your passport.
 
 
SECTION 2: SEVIS FEE
 
SEVIS FEE:
 
VISA fees and SEVIS fees are the only payments that we all have to make for obtaining VISA. Sevis Fee receipt is a very important Document required for VISA INTERVIEW. Pay SEVIS Fee :
 
What is SEVIS and why do I need to pay this?
If you want an F1 visa, you have to pay it. For further queries, visit http://www.fmjfee.com


How much is the SEVIS fee?
$200
 
How do I pay this fee?
You can pay this fee online by credit card at http://www.fmjfee.com. You will need to fill Form I-901 before paying the fee. Please keep your printer ready to print the receipt after paying the fee. Print at least 2 copies.
 
What documents do I need?
You will need your I-20 to fill the I-901 form. If your I-20 has been issued, but you haven’t received it yet, ask your university to send you your SEVIS number and School Code. You can then fill the form.
 
After payment, do I opt for Standard Delivery or Expedited Delivery?
Standard Delivery. You do not need the I-797 receipt that they send you for the visa application. If you have too much money, select Expedited Delivery (Around $35).
 
 
SECTION 3: LIST OF DOCUMENTS TO BE CARRIED List of Documents to be carried: 
 
 
NEW DELHI/Chennai/Hyderabad/Kolkata CONSULATE
Applicants applying at the U.S Embassy, New Delhi / U.S. Consulate Chennai, Hyderabad or Kolkata need to carry the following documents at the time of the interview
 
Mandatory Documents
 
  • Valid original passport. You are recommended to have passport valid for at least six months beyond your interview date. One photograph as per specification. 
  • CEAC Barcode printout. 
  • Valid HDFC Bank visa fee receipt. (Embassy copy)
  • Original interview appointment letter. 
  • Original form I-20 or DS-2019 as applicable. 
  • Form I-901 (Sevis Fee Receipt)

 

 
Additional Supporting Documents required at the time of interview 
 
Principal Applicant
 
  • 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. 
  • Proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate), the sponsor’s most recent, original tax forms, and the sponsor’s bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates
  • 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 
  • Unlike F-1 visa applicants, M-1 applicants must demonstrate the ability to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of their intended stay and cannot work while in M visa status.

 

 
MUMBAI CONSULATE:
 
Applicants applying at the U.S. Consulate, Mumbai need to submit their Application Packet to VFS Application Centre – Mumbai, Ahmedabad or Pune a minimum of 3 working days prior to the scheduled appointment date and carry the Additional Supporting Documents at the time of the interview
 
Application packet to be submitted to VFS
 
  • Copy of the first and last page of your current valid passport. If you have any observations on your passport please submit a copy of the observation page also. You are recommended to have passport valid for travel for at least six months beyond your date of entry into the U.S. 
  • One photograph as per specification
  • DS-160 Confirmation Barcode printout. 
  • Original, valid HDFC Bank visa fee receipt. (Embassy copy)<BLUE COPY> 
  • Original interview appointment letter. 
  • Copy of Form I-20. 
  • Proof of payment of SEVIS 
  • Fee Receipt I-901, if applicable 
  • Dependant applicants must submit a photocopy of their respective 
  • Form I- 20 along with the principal applicant’s Form I – 20 and their visa copy. 
  • Visa renewal applicants must submit a copy of the previous expired US visa stamped on their passport

 

 
Additional Supporting Documents required at the time of interview 
 
Principal Applicant
 
  • Copy of interview appointment letter, DS-160 Confirmation Barcode printout and Original, valid HDFC bank visa fee receipt (Applicant’s Copy). 
  • Original I-20 and Sevis Fee Receipt. 
  • 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.
  • Proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate), the sponsor’s most recent, original tax forms, and the sponsor’s bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates 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
  • Unlike F-1 visa applicants, M-1 applicants must demonstrate the ability to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of their intended stay and cannot work while in M visa status.

 

We can arrange the Documents in 4 Folders :
 
Folder 1: Primary Documents
 
1. VISA fee receipt issued by HDFC bank 
2. Web appointment letter 
3. DS 160 Confirmation 
4. SEVIS Fee receipt (print out is enough) 
5. I-20 Signed Copy
6. Admission letter 
7. Pass port 
8. One Passport size photo (2 x 2 inch size with white background)
 
Folder 2:Academic Documents 
9.   Original degree certificates (Provisional degree or Course completion certificate)
10. Individual marks certificates or grade sheets 
11. Consolidated mark sheet 
12. Original GRE & TOEFL score cards 
13. Certificates of Class 10 & 12
 
Financial Documentation (Folder 3) Optional and if applicable,
 
14. Financial summary statement / CA statement 
15. Bank loan sanction letter 
16. Offer letter, pay certificates and IT returns, in case the student is/was employed 
17. Affidavit of support from sponsors 
18. Bank balance certificate + Passbook/6 month transaction statement from sponsors 
19. FD certificates 
20. Property documents & Evaluation certificate ( given by a charted engineer) 
21. Parent’s salary certificate & IT returns 
22. PF statements 
23. Gold jewels evaluation certificate (given by certified valuer) 
24. Mutual funds/Insurance statements
 
Other Documents
 
25. SOP 
26. Resume 
27. Other admission letters 
28. Rejection letters
 
 
SECTION 4: FINANCES
 
Finance and Financial Documents required for VISA :
 
 Showing Actual Source of Funds for Visa Interview : In several cases, the finances that you show for your Visa interview is not the actual source of funds you will be using for your education. While it is of course highly recommended to show your actual source of funds, this may not be a practical thing to do. Here are a few reasons why this may be the case : 
1) The living expenses on the I-20 are much higher than what you will actually be spending. (This is true for almost everybody) 
2) You will have some degree of reliance on on-campus jobs. 
3) Your funds may not be readily available at the time of the visa interview, but will be ready by the time you have to pay the fees. 
4) You are taking funds from a source which might raise suspicions for the Visa Officer (such as loans from US banks) There might of course be more reasons.
 
How much money do I need to show at the Visa Interview?
This amount is dictated by your I-20. The cost estimate on the I-20 is for the first 12 months only. Hence it is important to consider the course duration mentioned on the I-20 while calculating the amount to be shown. Sometimes, the course duration on the I-20 is more than what it actually might take. In this case, you still should prepare sufficient finance for the written duration.
IDEALY : VISA AMOUNT = I20 AMOUNT * Course Duration + 3000$
 
In what forms can these funds be shown?
Technically they say that funds for the first year must be shown in the form of Liquid Funds. Funds for the remaining duration of the course must be shown as Non-Liquid Funds. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable to show atleast 1.5 times the first year I-20 amount in the form of Liquid Funds. The remaining funds can be shown in the form on Non-Liquid funds.
 
LIQUID FUNDS :
 
Liquid Funds are those funds which are at your instant disposal. The following is a list of sources which can be shown as Liquid Funds along with the necessary documents required for each of them.
 
1) Savings Accounts :
This is considered as good as cash in hand. But few people actually store huge amounts of money in Savings Accounts for obvious reasons. You will most likely be transferring money from a non-liquid source into your savings account to show for the visa interview. In this case carry documents as proof of transactions. In any case, be prepared to justify any significant deposits in your Savings Account with necessary documents Documents Required : Original Passbooks with transactions of atleast last 6 months, Bank statement (optional), Proof of significant transactions Note : Some banks do not provide passbooks. In this case, you can do either of the following : a) Get a printed transaction history of the past 6 months from the bank (Recommened) b) If you have Internet banking, print the bank statements over the past 6 months.
 
2) Fixed Deposits :
A fixed deposit is a long term deposit with a bank which yields a higher rate of interest. You can show either the Principal Amount or the Current Amount of a Fixed Deposit as Liquid Cash. Current amount will be higher than Principal Amount due to accrued interest, but will require an official bank statement as proof.
The Maturity Amount of a Fixed Deposit cannot be considered as Liquid Funds unless the Maturity Date is before the time when you will be needing the funds. Documents Required : Original Receipts, Bank Statements for Current Value.
 
3) Bank Loans :
A bank loan which has already been sanctioned can be shown as Liquid Funds. Maximum Bank Loan available in India = Rs. 20 Lakhs Be ready to explain what was used as collateral to obtain the loan, if required. I would strongly advise against showing a loan from a foriegn bank as source of funds.
Documents : Original Loan Sanction Letter with the name of the university mentioned
 
NON – LIQUID FUNDS:
 
These are funds which are not available instantly, but can be made available in the near future if required.
 
1) Provident Funds :
There are several provident funds and it is beyond the scope of this document to discuss each one of those in detail. Provident funds will pay you a certain amount of money at a given date. A percentage of this final amount is immediately available. Only this percentage can be shown as Liquid Funds. The rest is counted as Non-Liquid Funds.
There are also Public Provident Funds (PPF). Funds available through PPF can be shown as Liquid Funds. Documents : Original Passbooks or Original Statements as applicable
 
2) Policies :
All policies are considered as Non-Liquid Funds. Documents : Original Policy Letter
 
3) National Savings Certificate :
NSC’s are Non-Liquid Funds. Documents : Original Certificates
 
4) Bonds :
There are again several kinds of bonds and each of them will have specific conditions. Unless you dissolve these bonds and transfer them to savings accounts, they are counted as Non-Liquid. Documents :Original Bond Certificates
 
5) Shares :
The value of these assets is constantly fluctuating and hence have to be shown as Non-Liquid Assets. I would recommend you calcualte the value of the shares approximately one week prior to the Visa Interview. You can do this yourself also and do not need to pay any professional to do it. Documents : Original Share Certificates (if possible), DMAT Account Statement
 
6) Mutual Fund Investments :
These are also constantly fluctuating in value and to be shown as Non-Liquid Assets. Documents : Original Mutual Fund Investment document, Investment Portfolio (if you are investing through an agency)
 
PROPERTY :
 
Property is not directly included in Non-Liquid Assets since you will rarely be selling property to generate funds. 
While it is not compulsory to show property, it is highly recommended. There are two reasons : 
a) It shows strong ties to your home country.
b) In case you are falling short of funds for 2nd year onwards, you can show property as a collateral for loan. 
Documents : Original Proof of Ownership, Evaluation Certificate from a Registered Evaluator (Optional, Will cost money to obtain)
 
ANNUAL INCOME :
 
Along with all the above assets, you will also need to show the annual income of your sponsors. This is generally required to prove that your sponsors can sustain themselves while providing money for your education. The annual income may include income from one of your Liquid assets such as FD Interest, or pay-offs from other investments. In this case, make sure that their income excluding these sources is sufficient. 
Documents : Income Tax Returns of the past 3 years of each sponsor. If IT Returns of the current year have not been filed, carry salary slips, bills, receipts or any other proof of income over the past year as applicable.
 
How do I show these funds to the Visa Officer?
There are two ways : 
 
1) Prepare a consolidated statement in tabular format. It should have three columns – Asset, Value in Rupees, Value in Dollars. Have four separate sections for all the above four forms of funds.
 
Summary Of Finances
 
2) Prepare a Fund Flow Statement. State the funds required for your education semester-wise and the source of funds for each semester. So you will have three columns – Semester, Funds Required, Source of Funds I would recommend option 1, since I have heard cases where VO’s get suspicious about involvement of a counsellor on seeing a Fund Flow Statement.
You do not need to get these documents from any CA. You can make them yourself.

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