United States of America has been the top most destination for international students, and why not, the best colleges in almost any field are in this great country. Every year thousands of international students come to USA for graduation/other higher degrees in Engineering, Medicine, Management, Law etc. The information below is focused on getting a Student visa (often referred as F1 or F-1 visa), some useful information around the college application procedure and prospects after you complete your study are also covered.
Visa or immigration document allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of entry (ex Airport) and request permission from the U.S. immigration officer to enter the United States.
STEP 1: EXAMS REQUIRED TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR STUDENT VISA
a) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): English is the national language of USA. Earlier it use to be paper based exam but these days itís mostly given on the internet from designated centers all over the world. These scores are used by many other countries. Although rare but some English speaking nations may be exempted from TOEFL.
b) Specialization specific exam ( Ex: GRE / GMAT / SAT) : Depending on which specific branch or level (Graduation/Under-Grad etc) of education, there is a test for that very specific field. Tests centers are all over the world and mostly computer based. A management level applicant will give GMAT, Engineering student will give GRE etc.
Depending on these scores there will be a cut-off for each institution to which you can apply. Not all institutions can allow foreign students; they should have permission from USCIS (United States Citizenship and immigration Services) to do so.
STEP 2: STUDENT VISA (F-1 Visa) The student should have a non-immigrant intent i.e. he/she is coming to USA genuinely for educational purposes only and not just to enter in the country for immigration purpose. Students must also demonstrate that they have the financial resources to study without the need to engage in unauthorized or illegal employment.
Institutions need these following documents
* Written application to the school
* Institution's qualification criteria for admission (i.e. TOEFL / SAT/ GRE etc.)
* Student's prior academic record and financial support evidence.
* An acceptance letter allowing the student to study.
After this institutions can issue Form I-20 needed for F-1 Student visa. Students must take that form to their nearest US consulate along with Passport, Visa fee, Form OF-156 (Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa), documents indicating evidence of financial support and documents proving sufficient ties to home country.
One should explore the opportunity of scholarships given by Institutions to some students with high scores or exceptional ability in sports. Also students may qualify to work part time. Check your institution for those details.
STEP 3: ENTERING USA
At the port of Entry ( ex Airport), the students must present all the documents including passport, I-20, Documents from Institution. The immigration officer after verification will issue an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record that contains a unique number. Keep this document safe, probably attached to your passport. Once you arrive on campus, you should report immediately to the office that is responsible for assisting international students and scholars.
STEP 4: LIFE / CAREER AFTER COMPLETING YOUR EDUCATION
Often US companies/employers may come on campus to recruit appropriate students for their organization. If you are the one selected then the employer must file for your working visa ( usually referred as the H-1 visa). Good news !! US Govt. has a special H-1 quota presently at 20,000 visa's (number can change with time) for students who do their graduation in USA.
If the student is not offered H-1 visa, and not pursuing studies in USA anymore, the individual must return back to their home country.
OTHER STUDENT VISA's
* J-1, or Exchange Visitor. Students participating in an exchange visitor program in the U.S
* M-1, or Student Visa Those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training.
* B-2 prospective student visa A prospective student, who has not yet decided on a school, can later apply for F-1 Visa.
Immigration Law's change very often and sometimes have specific details. It is highly recommended to consult an Immigration Attorney or expert personally to get an update on latest form and procedures before applying for a Student visa. There is very useful information also located at educationusa.state.gov/usvisa.htm