New Delhi: The US Embassy expects student visas to be in high demand this year, and will increase the number of visa appointment slots this summer to accommodate hopeful students. The visa fee has been hiked to $185 — roughly Rs 15,300 — from $160 earlier, starting 30 May 2023.
Brendan Mullarkey, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy in New Delhi told ThePrint that the embassy issued a record 1,25,000 visas to students in 2022, and expects demand to be high in 2023.
Tens of thousands of slots have been opened for June and July, and additional student appointment slots will be made available in the coming weeks, he said.
“Students should prepare their own application materials and be familiar with what they contain. Remember that the applicant is always responsible for the information contained in the application,” said Mullarkey.
He added, “Students should also note that it isn’t necessary to work with an agent to book a student visa appointment.”
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Advice for visa interview
Applying for a student visa to study in the US can often be a daunting process, but embassy officials say that students preparing for their interviews should ideally keep an elevator pitch ready before heading for their appointment.
“At the interview, students should listen carefully to the questions asked and provide genuine, clear answers,” said Mullarkey.
Students should be prepared to talk about why they want to study at their chosen university and how they plan on covering their expenses, according to Mullarkey. If a family member is funding them, prospective students should be able to explain where the money is coming from.
While the requirements for visa application remain the same, the fee has been increased by roughly Rs 2,000. This amount has to be paid before the visa interview is scheduled.
Students should come to the interview prepared with their Form I-20, SEVIS receipt, and application confirmation page. The Form I-20 is proof that the applicant is enrolled in an accredited college or university, and the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) receipt is issued in exchange for payment of SEVIS fee, which is separate from visa fees and school SEVIS administration fees.
“Applicants choose schools for different reasons,” said Mullarkey, adding that the applicants will be able to demonstrate eligibility for the visa with more ease if they candidly explain why they chose a particular school, rather than reciting a set of general facts about the school.
Record number of visas
The number of student visas issued by the US Embassy doubled from 62,000 in 2021 to 1,25,000 in 2022.
According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), nearly 2 lakh students travelled to the US for higher education in 2022.
The application season in 2022 was busy, and the embassy opened additional slots in August to give students a second chance to apply for their visas if they were unable to book a slot, or if their application had been rejected.
This year, too, the embassy plans on giving prospective students a second chance. “There will be an opportunity for previously refused students to apply a second time,” said Mullarkey.
“However, in the interest of fairness, we are committed to providing as many qualified students as possible with a first chance to interview before we open appointments for some students to interview a second time.”
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
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