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USA F-1 Student Visa procedure for Indian Students

I am expecting that you have your i20 before reading this article and you've finalized the university which you're planning to attend. I'm gonna tell you the entire process for F-1 Visa. Applying for a visa is an exhaustive task due to its long procedure, forms and slow website of the US Embassy. While applying for F-1 Visa, you have to fill two kinds of fee. 

  1. SEVIS Fee
  2. Visa Application fee

SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is a number given to you on your i20 certificate to track each student's application throughout the process. Each i20 has one SEVIS ID associated with this. You can take multiple i20s from different universities you got admitted to, but you have to finalize one while applying for visa because you need to pay SEVIS fee associated to that i20 certificate.

Applying for a visa is a multiple step process

  • Pay SEVIS fee (i-901 form)
  • Fill DS-160 form
  • Pay the visa application fee / MRV Fee
  • Schedule visa OFC and interview Appointments

I-901 form / SEVIS Fee:

To pay your SEVIS fee or I-901 fee. You have to go to the Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security. Then fill the form with your SEVIS ID, name and date of birth.

You can pay your SEVIS fee using any credit card (some debit cards also, you can check for yours) and you'll get a confirmation after that. You have to download the confirmation PDF because you need the SEVIS Confirmation receipt in the visa application process later.

DS-160 form:

DS-160 form is your visa application form. To fill this form, you have to go to https://ceac.state.gov this website and click on the DS-160 form.

Now enter your desired Visa consulate location and start the application. You'll get an application number. Note it down somewhere. This is a very long form and the website is very slow. So, be patient and keep filling the form. It is not mandatory to fill the form in one go and that's not practical as well. Check twice before submitting the form. Any wrong information might lead to your visa rejection. After submitting the DS-160 form. You'll get an acknowledgment. Please save that as a document or take a print out of that because you will need it later. Now you have your DS-160 acknowledgment and i-901 confirmation.

Pay Visa Application fee / Machine Readable Visa (MRV) application fee:

Let's pay the visa application fee now. Go to this website https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/ and click on new user. Create an account with the same email ID which you have used for the application and entire process and login to the website.

Fill all the required details until it shows you the payment options. Now you have plenty of options to pay your fee but here comes the trickier part. You can't pay the visa application fee directly on this website through debit or credit card. You can pay via NEFT, IMPS, m-Paisa or cash on the selected bank counters and you have to fill the Receipt number here. Click on the method via you want to pay. And you'll get all the details about it. Note down the details and you can close the window and come back later after the payment.

If you're using NEFT or IMPS. You'll get a beneficiary details like this.

Now open your net banking and add the beneficiary given to you. Bank will take some time to approve the beneficiary in case of NEFT and then you can pay the fee stated to you in your native currency. Don't rush if you will not get the receipt number immediately after the transaction because this is not how it works.

Wait for sometime (4-6 hours). Go to the website again  https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/. Login with your credentials and you'll see all the steps filled where you left. Click on the step from where you want to continue and go to payment page again. Cut the payment options pop Up if any, and the portal will ask you to select existing receipt if your payment got successful. Click okay or yes and you can see your receipt number will be filled automatically in the input form.

Schedule Visa OFC and Interview appointments:

Now fill the form further and a new screen will open to choose your OFC appointment first. OFC stands for Offsite Facilitation Center. Before giving the interview, you'll have to authenticate yourself at the OFC for bio metric and other verification. You can choose any suitable date and time for you. Keep in mind, This is not the interview date. You can click on the city to check the available dates of OFC and choose any according to your convenience

Now go on, and you'll see a new screen asking to choose your visa interview date and time. This is your main interview date. Choose wisely. You can click on the city to check the available dates of interview and choose any according to your convenience. If you're not getting your desired dates in your nearest Visa consulate, you can choose the other consulate, that's totally fine and will not make any impact on your visa decision.

After filling all the date and times. You'll be given a PDF to download. Save that carefully because you need this appointment confirmation at the time of OFC and Visa interview. You have it all now.

All the best for your interview. Do share your visa experience here.

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