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US Student Visa Requirements

Financial proof

Visa applicants must prove that sufficient funds are or will be available from a reliable financial source to pay for all living and school expenses during the whole period of study in the US.

Applicants for the F-1 visa must prove that they have enough readily available funds to meet all their expenses for the first year of study, and that adequate funds will be available for each subsequent years of study.

Applicants for the M-1 visa must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of study. In some cases, schools will require proof of sufficient funds for the entire course of study even for the F-1 visa.

Financial sponsorship and assurance of support

Various factors are important in evaluating assurances of financial support made by sponsors:

·     The financial sponsor must ensure that the applicant will not need to seek unauthorized work while studying in the United States.

·     The sponsor must provide evidence (in the form of documents) of the financial resources that are necessary for the student to complete the course of study.

·     If the sponsor is in the US on nonimmigrant status, then the sponsor’s financial situation will be examined with even greater care. Important issues include whether the sponsor may need to obtain unauthorized work to finance the student’s education, and whether the sponsor will remain in the US at least as long as the student.

·     The factors that would motivate a sponsor to honor the financial commitment will be carefully considered. For example, if the sponsor is a close relative of the applicant, there may be a greater probability that the obligation will be honored than if the sponsor is not a relative.

Funds from fellowships and scholarships

The institution that the student will attend may arrange for the student to conduct research, give lectures, or perform other academic functions as part of a fellowship or scholarship, so long as the student also maintains a full-time course load.

If an applicant indicates that funds will be coming from a source outside the United States (for example, from parents living in the country of residence), the consular officer must determine whether there are restrictions on the transfer of funds from the country concerned. If restrictions do exist, the consular officer must require some evidence that these restrictions will not keep the funds from being available during the applicant’s projected period of study.

Financial sponsorship by an American

If the student will be sponsored by a US citizen (such as a relative), the sponsor will need to complete Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support). This form requires the sponsor to pay for all expenses that cannot be covered by the student. The relationship between the sponsor and the applicant is an important consideration in this case. A sponsor who is not a relative of the student is generally less credible. A copy of the form can be downloaded from the INS website (http://www.ins.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/files/i-134.pdf).

Educational qualifications

The consular officer reviewing the visa application is required to determine that the following items are true.

·     The applicant has successfully completed a course of study equivalent to that normally required of an American student enrolling at the same school.

·     The applicant has not submitted forged or altered transcripts of previous coursework to the school.

·     The school has not incorrectly accepted an applicant's previous coursework as the equivalent of its normal requirements.

English proficiency

The applicant, unless coming to the US to participate exclusively in an English language training program, must have enough knowledge of English to pursue the intended course of study. If that is not the case, the school must have made special arrangements for English language classes for the student, or must teach the course in the student's native language.

In order to determine whether the applicant has the necessary knowledge of English, the consular officer must perform the visa interview in English and may require the applicant to read aloud from an English-language document, and to explain in English what was read. The officer also has the option to refer the applicant for language testing.

Ties to the country of origin

The student must prove intent to return to the home country after completing the coursework by showing strong ties to the country of origin. The student must demonstrate that he has no intention of abandoning those ties. Conversely, if the student has close relatives or other ties in the United States, those may affect the intent to return to the home country. Examples of ways to provide evidence of ties to the home country are given below.

·     The names, addresses, ages, and occupations of close family members who remain in the home country.

·     Financial interests in the home country.

·     Evidence of job prospects in the home country.

Additionally, the INS may require the student to post a Departure Bond to guarantee departure after the course of study is completed.

 

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