The approximate sequence of what you have to do after the admits to get the I-20 form and Visa is as follows:
1. Read the admit letter or email carefully. If you have to send an acceptance of the offer do it promptly. Even if you have multiple offers it makes sense to accept one.
2. Based on the factors mailed earlier, decide the final university that you want study at, since you can book a visa date only for one university!!
3. If you have received the I-20 form along with the offer of admission you can straightaway start the preparations for visa. Note: you cannot apply for the F1 visa unless you have the I-20 form from the university that you have chosen.
4. Please note that you cannot apply for the visa interview more than 120 days before the starting date of the program mentioned in I-20 form. The fall 2013 semester will begin sometime in the third week of August. So, if you plan to join an American university this fall, you can start applying for your visa from the third week of April.
5. However, the university will ask you to send affidavits of support from your sponsors as well as the bank statements of your sponsors showing that you have sufficient funds for meeting the I-20 form amount (that is, the total cost of the first year which, includes tuition, other fees and living expenses.)
6. Most universities mention that the funds should be only bank funds and accept balance certificates from banks on bank’s letterhead which are sealed and signed by the banker. Generally, electronic copies and faxed statements are not accepted. Funds in bank include savings account and fixed deposits. You can also include Personal Provident Fund (P.P.F.) balance
7. The I-20 form is an official document issued by the University on behalf of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The following important details are mentioned in the document:
· the name and passport number of the student
· the name of the university which the student is joining
· the program to which the student has been admitted
· the date of commencement of the program
· the date by which the program has to be completed
· the total cost of education for one year(minus any aid received)
Once you receive the I-20 form check it carefully to see that all details are accurate. Pay specific attention to spelling of your name, accuracy of date of birth and the start and end dates of the program. Of course, all details should be accurate and the first page of the I-20 form MUST bear the signature of the university official. The third page need not be signed at this stage.
8. As soon as you have applied for I-20 form, you have to prepare the financial and other documents required for the visa interview. Putting together the finances may take time. Please refer to the documents mailed for the standard and details of documents required.
9. Keep in mind that you should have adequate liquid funds to cover the total cost of one year of education – this is mentioned in the I-20 form. Many students are under the wrong impression that their sponsor needs to deposit this entire amount in the bank and that otherwise their visa can be rejected. This is not true. Funds can be shown in the form of bank deposits, shares, mutual funds, provident fund etc. Even education loans of up to Rs. 20 lakhs are also permitted. Of course, having adequate funds alone does not guarantee a visa approval. The consulate officer also considers the following points:
· whether you have admission to an accredited and reputed university
· whether your academic background is good
· whether your GRE score is satisfactory
· whether your sponsor’s income is adequate
But the more important factor is you should have good communication skills and should be able to give convincing and honest answers to the consulate officer’s questions.
Most students show their parents as their sponsors. If this is not possible, they can show support from any other family member e.g. their brothers or sisters, their grandparents, either individually or as co-sponsors with their parents.
Sponsorship can also be taken from other immediate relatives, like uncles and aunts, provided their financial position is very sound and their income level is high.