10 Things You Should Know About Student Visas

Estimated reading time ~ 3 min


10 Things You Should Know About Student Visas

By: Cristiana Salazar

As a Nicaraguan high school senior, my mind buzzed with excitement about starting college in the United States. The anticipation of new opportunities and friendships consumed me, overshadowing the exhausting reality of the visa application process. Unaware of the complexities and requirements involved, I experienced moments of frustration. However, having successfully navigated this journey a few years ago, I can now offer you ten invaluable tips to ease the path of your own visa application process.

  1. Understand the Different Visa Types and Requirements

The United States offers a variety of visas but you will most likely apply for the F-1 visa which is the visa designated for students. Check out this website to learn more about the visa and its requirements.

  1. Start Early

The visa application process takes time and a lot of planning so make sure you start early enough to avoid unnecessary stress and ensure you have enough time to gather all of the necessary documents. Contact your university’s international students' office so they can also guide you through the process.

  1. Make a Checklist

Since the visa application process requires a lot of steps. I found creating a checklist extremely useful. Add all of the documents you need, deadlines, and steps you need to take to get the visa approved. Check out this valuable checklist.

  1. Finances

The application for a student visa has a steep cost. Make sure you understand all of the associated costs and how you will pay for them. It is also important to understand your finances when applying for the visa. You will likely need to gather documentation demonstrating your ability to cover tuition, living expenses, and healthcare costs during your in the United States.

  1. Make Sure You Are Proficient in English

American colleges and universities require you to have English language proficiency. You will need to take a test called TOEFL or IELTS to prove your proficiency is up to their standards. Here are some tips that will help you prepare for these tests.

  1. Still Confused About the Process?

Every country has different support systems or professionals dedicated to helping international students through the visa application process. Reach out to other students from your country that have gone through the process to get those resources and tips for extra support. 

  1. Prepare For the Interview

This is CRITICAL! Make sure you bring your checklist and all of the necessary documents to the interview. I found watching videos on how to prepare for the interview extremely helpful. Here is one I think you could find helpful as well.

  1. Stay Updated

After the interview, they inform you if your visa was approved or denied. If it was approved, congratulations! You are one step closer to your life as an international student in the United States. Now it is time to regularly check official websites, embassy notifications, and university portals to stay informed about any changes or updates in visa requirements.

  1. One Step Closer

In a few weeks, you should be receiving your passport with the new visa stamp and your I-20 document. When traveling internationally, always keep your passport and I-20 in the safest place possible. Remember that without the I-20, United Stated customs might not let you in the country. Take it from me, I did not know the importance of the I-20 and I was almost not let in the country!

  1. College, Here I Come!

It is your first week of class, hooray! This is an exciting time. You are meeting your roommates, hallmates, professors, and more however, it is essential to take the time to visit your school’s international students' office. Get to know the people that work there and ask questions. They will be the ones helping you when you have questions or when you need another I-20 signature.

I know this process is exhausting and very stressful but if you follow my tips, I will guarantee your visa application process will be much easier than mine. I wish you the best of luck in your process!