So the breaking news that I was supposed to cover in my last post was that I am done with my VISA (phew! feels so good!).
Assuming that you have got your I-20, here is what you need to do next (this is for Indian aspirants):
1. Pay the Application Fee and VFS Service Charge at a designated branch of HDFC Bank before applying for a US Visa. This includes – Visa Application Fee – $131 (Rs.6943 at current exchange rate of Rs.53) + Service Charge: Rs.374. Visa appointment can be taken only after the fee receipt gets activated which takes around 3 working days.
2. Go to this site and click on the Apply for a Non-immigrant Visa link once the fees are paid. You will need to use the bar-code number from your HDFC Bank Fee Receipt in order to schedule an appointment. Keep your passport and I-20 ready with you while doing this. Your appointment centre depends on your state of residence – the state where you have been residing for past 6 months. (Yes..and so you don’t have a choice). You can check the availablity of dates here.
2.a. Fill out the forms DS-156, DS-157, DS-158 online. Don’t forget to use the help section in every form to know the exact details that you need to fill in. This should get you through most of the fields. You can even contact the customer support and they will treat you pretty well :).
2.b. You don’t need to fill all these forms in one go. You can always save and exit so that you can resume later. However, an inactivity of more than 7 days will delete all your information and you need to start all over again.
2.c. Take the appointment once you have filled in all the info. You can take an appointment within 120 days prior to the start date of your program. (For Chennai, I couldn’t find any normal appointments available and hence had to go for an emergency appointment. This is perfectly fine as long as your appointment date is within 120 days prior to the start date of your program) Finally, take a print out of your appointment letter.
2.d. Print your forms – DS-156, DS-157, DS-158. Don’t forget to affix your visa photograph on DS-156 and handwrite your name on DS-157 in the field 3.
3. Pay $200 SEVIS fee here by filing online form and submitting the amount by credit card at least 3 business days prior to your visa appointment. Make sure that you are connected to a printer this time as you won’t be able to save the receipt online. Take a print out of the receipt immediately after submitting the form.
Now that you are done with the appointment, the next thing is to arrange all the necessary documents. Here is the checklist (this is pretty comprehensive, not everything might be a must):
1. Admit Docs – 1.a. Admit offer letter from the school. 1.b Merit award certificate from the school (if any).
2. Visa Docs – 2.a. Colour Photo 50mmx50mm 2.b. Passport 2.c. DS-156 2.d. DS-157 2.e. DS-158 2.f. HDFC Fee Reciept 2.g. I-20 2.h. VFS Appointment letter 2.i. SEVIS Fee Reciept 2.j. Address Proof for the state of residence – this could be your last 6 months salary slips or a confirmation of your address on your company’s letterhead.
3. Educational Docs – 3.a. GMAT score report. 3.b. TOEFL score report. 3.c. Graduation degree certificate 3.d. Consolidate mark-sheet/transcripts of graduation 3.e. HSC certificate 3.f. SSC certificate
4. Financial Docs. 4.a. Liquid Assets – Passbooks (savings a/c), Investments like Fixed Deposits, Provident Funds, etc. 4.b. Fixed Assets – Property sale-deeds, etc. 4.c. Loans. 4.d. IT Returns for last 3 years of all people who are sponsoring your education (In my case it was my father and I). The liquid assets + loan should cover the first year estimated expense as mentioned in your I-20.
All this should be good enough to make you ready for the visa appointment once you get your I-20. Next is cracking the visa interview itself which I plan to cover in the next post. Till then…ATB for your visa appointment! 🙂
P.S.: There are number of blogs out there which helped me with all this information. Just putting things in one place.
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