How to Increase your Chances of getting a U.S. Visa

If you want to attend college in the United States and you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to obtain a student visa. The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security share responsibility for monitoring school and exchange programs and for monitoring visa applications that are submitted.

In order to obtain a visa, there are specific requirements that must be met by each applicant. It is always a good idea to start preparing for this part of the process early on so that you can be sure you are able to meet each requirement sufficiently.

Applying for a Student Visa

Applications for visas will not be approved any more than 120 days in advance of when the first day of classes will start. Approved applicants are generally not allowed to enter the United States any sooner than 30 days prior to the start of their classes, so if you have special circumstances or you simply want to come to America sooner than that, you will need to request an exception through the consulate or embassy that you are dealing with.

Applicants should wait until they have been accepted by a college or university before they begin the application process, as it is not at all likely that an application will be approved for students who do not have concrete plans to attend a school in the United States.

As a standard part of the application process, applicants will be required to participate in an interview at an embassy or consulate. There is usually a wait for interview appointment times, so it is advisable to put in a request for an interview as early as possible. The U.S. Department of State has a listing of American embassies to help you find the one that is nearest to your location.

Documentation

Everyone who applies for a visa will have to present some documentation during their interview. There are no exceptions to this rule. The documents that are required are:

  • One 2 x 2 photograph
  • A passport that is valid for travel within the United States. It must be valid for a period of at least six months beyond an applicant’s intended period of stay in America.
  • A completed application – this is the non-immigrant visa application, number DS-156. It must be submitted along with form number DS-158. The embassy that you go to can provide you with complete, detailed information regarding any questions that you might have concerning these application forms.
  • Form I-20A-B – this is the certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status. This form, or another one that is similar, will be required. You must complete and sign this form, and a representative of the school you will be attending will also need to sign it.
  • Transcripts and diplomas – these are required from each institution a student has attended.
  • Scores from standardized tests such as TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
  • Financial evidence proving that you or your parents have the financial means to support you while you are in the United States attending school.
  • Fees – application fees are always required, and they may vary. It is always best to check with your local embassy to find out the current fees in advance.

If you make sure that you have all of your information together at the time you begin the application process, you will likely find that it goes quite smoothly.

The Australian Student Visa

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted by an Australian university. Now it’s time to think about your student visa. You should apply for your visa as soon as possible – at least two months before you begin classes.

Each person applying for a student visa from the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) must meet certain standards. The standards are a bit more severe if you are an Assessment Level 3 or 4 student, rather than an Assessment Level 2 or 3 student. (See Understanding Assessment Levels for more on this topic.)

All students from Africa, and most other nations, must apply for their first student visa before they enter the country. You cannot go to Australia as a tourist and then apply for a student visa from within the country.

An essential part of your visa application is the financial information. You’ll need to provide evidence to the DIMIA that you are able to support yourself, including paying your school fees, while you are in the country. Although you will probably be allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the school term, this can’t be counted as part of your financial evidence.

Fully funded students need to show only a minimum amount of financial resources to obtain a student visa. These are students whose education is being paid for by a scholarship or grant. Some fully funded students receive money from their home country, while others receive funds from Australian companies, the UN, the World Bank or other sources.

You’ll also need to demonstrate that you speak English well enough to complete the course you have chosen. Normally, you will have completed an English test as part of the university application process. The DIMIA will also determine that you are a genuine student. They’ll consider if your past grades and education are consistent with the program you’re enrolling in.

In Australia, as in other countries, it’s very helpful to demonstrate that you have strong reasons to return to your home country once your education is completed. This may include family members who remain in your native country, or a business or other financial resources. All of these factors will convince the DIMIA official that you intend to return to Africa once your education is complete.

Your student visa is usually granted for 2 months longer than your course of study. If your course of study ends in November or December, your student visa will be valid until March 15 of the following year. If your course of study is 10 months or less, your student visa will be valid for 30 days after the end of your course.

Your student visa allows you to leave Australia and return. You can bring your family members including spouse and dependent children to Australia with you. Boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 15 will have to conform to Australian law by attending school. If you leave Australia for any reason, such as visiting your home country, your dependents must accompany you.

Before your student visa is issued, you’ll need to obtain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), which provides medical and hospital insurance. OSHC ensures that you will have medical care while you are visiting, at no expense to the Australian government. You’ll need to include proof of OSHC payment with your visa application. While you’re in Australia, you’ll need to maintain your student visa by attending class at least 80% of the time, and earning passing marks in your courses.

 

 

Student Visas 101 – USA Admissions

 

Once you’ve been accepted by a U.S. college, you still need to secure a student visa in order to legally enter the country. While this isn’t usually difficult, it can be a long, drawn-out process. The best way to speed up the process is to make sure that you have all the required documents. Continue reading

UAE expands student visa and residency programs to five plus years

Duabi_library

The UAE will now offer five-year visas for international students, in lieu of the current one-year visa term in place.  Additionally, they are preparing to introduce ten-year residency options to high performing students and students who currently live as dependants to their parents in The UAE.

The announcement was made last week by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.  The news comes as The UAE works to introduce a knowledge-based economy into what has traditionally been an oil and gas economy.

The country has steadily been positioning itself as an international education hub.   As host to the second largest number of university branch campuses in the world after only China, they are well on their way to not only building a knowledge pool but a highly trained workforce to fill jobs that require international applicants in-country.

Dubai is currently home to more than 200 nationalities which accounts for 90% of the population. 40,000 of whom are international students?  The country should see a boost to these numbers as the new visa extension goes into effect.

Other countries that are extending visa parameters and work periods for foreign students include Canada, Japan, China, Ireland and Taiwan.  These countries have also introduced policies that make it easier for international students including African Students to study, work and in some cases immigrate.

While looking at post-secondary and career opportunities, be sure to look at local and international institutions in the United Arab Emirates.

Interested In Studying in America?

We did an interview with Voice of America several years ago.  The presentation and tips about getting ready to study in the United States are still relevant.  Start Early and do as much research as possible.  We will be providing some tools to help guide that process by next year.  in the meantime, the following video is a great introduction to some things you need to consider when preparing to study in the United States.