VISA Guidelines

What is a Visa ?

A Visa is a sticker placed on your passport permitting you to enter a country for the stated period. A Visa may be single or multiple-entry. Most student Visas are multiple-entry, which means that you can travel in and out of the country many times before the Visa expiry date. Visitor Visas or Limited Purpose Visas normally just allow a single entry.

There are two basic types of U.S. visas: Immigrant Visas, for those intending to reside permanently in the United States (whether or not they intend to work) and Non-Immigrant Visas, for those visiting the United States temporarily.

The most common Non-Immigrant Visas are Visitor Visas, issued to persons who wish to enter the United States temporarily for business or pleasure. Other types of Non-Immigrant Visas are given to students, participants in exchange programs, temporary workers, performing artists, professional journalists, and representatives of foreign governments, among others.

The most common Non-Immigrant Visas are Visitor Visas, issued to persons who wish to enter the United States temporarily for business or pleasure. Other types of Non-Immigrant Visas are given to students, participants in exchange programs, temporary workers, performing artists, professional journalists, and representatives of foreign governments, among others.

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides two Non-Immigrant Visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. The ‘F’ visa is for academic studies, and the ‘M’ visa is for non-academic or vocational studies.

What is a Permit ?

The Visa allows you to enter a country and a permit allows you to stay in the country on the terms given in your Visa. When you enter the country, the Visa or customs officer at the airport will check to confirm your Visa and passport as valid. They will then issue or stamp your passport with a permit. The permit will say you are allowed to stay in a country as a student, visitor, worker, or resident for the time detailed on the Visa stamp. You must have a valid permit at all times while you are in that country. Permits can be renewed at the Immigration Service office on completion of the application requirements. Each student Visa and student permit will detail the course of study, the school or institution, and its location.

Note: In some countries, Visa itself is a permit.

How do I apply for a Student Visa?

Students leaving for the United States need to hold an F-1 visa. This indicates that you are a single student, with no dependents the documents to be enclosed along with the duly filled visa form before the visa interview are as follows:

  1. 1.Admit letter: The admit letter is sent by the University, which has granted admission to you. You have to enclose both, i.e., the student and university’s copy duly signed by you. Hence, when you receive an admission letter from the University, you should check it thoroughly. In case, there is any mistake in the same, concerning name, nationality, or any other error, you should immediately contact the college or University, and request a fresh document, with the corrections duly made. You cannot apply for the visa without an admission letter.
  2. 2.Passport: You should ensure that the passport is a valid one.
  3. 3.Fee: This amount is non-refundable irrespective of whether you get or not get a Visa.
What are the documents required for the interview?

You need to carry all original documents during the interview. All of the following documents must be in separate clear plastic folders and NOT in files and all in ORIGINAL. There are two kinds of documents :

  • Academic Papers
  • Financial Papers
Academic Papers
  • Acceptance letter: The official acceptance letter is sent along with the admit letter from the University where you have been offered admission. The original copy of the letter will be required.
  • Original Test Scores: GRE/GMAT and TOEFL Test-scores sheets.
  • Scholarship Letters: If you have received any scholarships or assistantships from the college or university, you will need to carry these financial award letters.
  • Any other correspondence with the University.
  • Print-outs of e-mail received from the faculty/officials of the University.
  • Copy of the Statement of Purpose.
  • Original Degree certificates and all original mark-sheets from Class 12 / HSC onwards. This will prove your educational qualification for the program.
What are the financial documents required?

The Visa officer needs to ascertain your ability to pay the entire educational expense. This includes tuition fees, boarding expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses that you will incur in the country, you intend to study. Ideally, you will need to show the expenses for the entire length of your education.

Note: You need to produce these documents even if you have applied for financial aid.

These documents include:

  • - I -T returns of your sponsor for the past 5 years.
  • - Passbook / Balance Statement and Certificate from your bank stating the bank-balance.
  • - Statement from a Chartered Accountant, listing all assets (movable and immovable) of yours and your parents and the sponsor (if parents are not the sponsors).
  • - Original documents of the certificate, issued by Chartered Accountant.

Reasons for Rejection of VISA Application

Most of the times visa gets rejected on the following two grounds:

  • Potential Immigrant: Every consulate officer who interviews considers the candidate as a potential immigrant, hence, you have to be convincing enough that you will return to India after completing studies. For instance, if you have dependent parents in India, who may have sponsored you or if you have a business in India then you may not be treated as a potential immigrant.
  • Insufficient Funds: You must show enough financial resources to cover your educational costs. If the Visa officer is not convinced of the fact that you have the funds to pursue your education, he will reject the Visa application.

The new student visa procedure requires that all students first apply through the Drop-Box. While many will be issued Visas without an interview, some students will still be required to appear at the Consulate for a personal interview. If a student is requested to appear for an interview, the main benefit of the drop-box procedure is that an officer will have already reviewed the case, and the interviewing officer will be better prepared to make an informed decision at the Visa interview.

The Visa interview has long been a source of mystery, confusion, and nervousness (and myths) for students. What questions will they ask? Why did my friend get the Visa and I did not? Why didn’t the officer review all of my documents? When conducting interviews, the Visa officers are merely trying to determine if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements for a student visa. They have very little time to conduct the interview and must assess quickly whether the documents and answers establish the visa applicant’s eligibility. The questions consular officers ask are based upon these criteria and are designed to help the officer quickly determine a student’s eligibility. Any documents submitted by a student, especially financial documents, are only useful if they can be rapidly examined for the relevant information.

So, how does one apply by drop-box?

Good news — it’s easy! First, assemble the following documents:

  • A valid passport.
  • The fully completed and signed visa application form (OF-156).
  • One front-facing photograph, size 37 mm x 37 mm, and less than six months old.
  • Demand drafts for the appropriate fees.
  • Original I-20 from the University.
  • Original TOEFL scores and SAT/GRE/GMAT scores (as applicable).
  • For prospective Master’s degree students, original Undergraduate degree.
  • Certificate and mark sheets (if the original degree or mark sheets are unavailable, please submit provisional certificates and/or photocopies); Bachelor’s degree students may show their most recent mark sheets or graduation certificate, as applicable
  • Proof of funds.
  • Preferred documentation includes 6 months of bank records, employment letter(s) of sponsor and/or chartered account statements. Students who have obtained bank loans may also provide a letter from the bank stating the same. Additionally, students who have pre-paid any fees may provide a receipt and or a letter from the university stating the same. Students receiving aid from their prospective University, that is not indicated on the I-20 should provide a letter from the University stating the nature and amount of aid to be provided.
  • Optional cover letter: Students with any special circumstances may also wish to explain the form of a cover letter. Once the documents are in order, simply proceed to the nearest Drop-Box location. TT Services, the Consulate’s authorized courier agent, maintains offices in Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.
  • Processing time takes approximately 8-10 business days, so it is important to allow enough time before the prospective university’s reporting date. We wish to remind all students that they may not apply earlier than 90 days before the reporting date.

Visa Fees

Confirming a visa interview appointment online, you need to pay the following fees and obtain a Visa Fee Receipt from HDFC Bank. When going to HDFC Bank, please carry with you a photocopy of the 1st page of the applicant’s passport.

Please note: If you are an Indian citizen resident in the US, to obtain a Visa Fee Receipt from HDFC Bank, please fax a copy of your passport’s data page to the person in India assisting you. That person will have to submit the fax to HDFC Bank to get a fee receipt issued.

The fees payable at HDFC Bank per passport are: –

  • Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee): US $131 payable in INR equivalent at the consular exchange rate. Visa Application Fee at the current exchange rate (Rs. 50/-) is Rs. 6,550/-.
  • This fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank cheque favoring,‘US Embassy – Visa Fees’. DDs issued by cooperative banks are not accepted.
  • Service Charge: Rs.374/-, which includes VFS’ service charge Rs359/- and Bank service charge Rs15/- (inclusive of Service Tax @ 10% and Education Cess Tax @0.30%).
  • This fee is payable in cash or by DD/HDFC Bank cheque favoring ‘HDFC Bank a/c VFS’. DDs issued by cooperative banks are not accepted.
  • IMPORTANT: The fee receipt gets activated 2 working days from the date of issue. Do not attempt to take an appointment till then.

The above fees are not refundable. You must appear for an Interview within a year (365 days) from the date you purchased your fee receipt from HDFC Bank. If you do not appear for an Interview within one year after the purchase of your fee receipt, it will no longer be valid. The receipt is deemed as utilized once the interview has taken place, and cannot be used to make a subsequent appointment.

For more information on Student Visa Procedures:

Student Visa – USA

Student Visa – Australia

Student Visa – Canada

Student Visa – UK

VISA Myths

Officers have reported several of the following myths, while managing informational sessions for students:

  • There is a limit to how many student visas are issued each year, so if you apply too late you will be automatically refused. FALSE!
  • Anyone who is a medical doctor or is going to study medicine will automatically be refused. FALSE!
  • You have to pay the tuition in advance in order to apply for a student visa. FALSE!
  • If you do not meet a minimum score on any of the standardized tests, you will automatically be refused. FALSE!

You may have already guessed from the term ‘myths’ that the answer to each of these questions is an emphatic ‘NO!’ There is no limit on how many student visas are issued every year; there is no bar to visa issuance for medical doctors; there is no requirement that any tuition fees are paid in advance, and there is no minimum score for any standardized test. So the next time you hear one, know that they are just that: MYTHS!!.

A final question that many students have: What if I am found ineligible for a student visa after an interview?

Consulate policy allows for only one personal interview per year. Students may apply for a review by posting their application to the Consulate, and, in some instances, may be called in for a second interview. However, students should only apply for a review if they have new information to present.

It is important to note two things:

  • - The burden of proof is on the applicant, and
  • - To qualify for a student Visa, a student must meet ALL of the criteria as listed in this article.

Unfortunately, officers do not have the time at the visa window to give counseling to individual students. If found ineligible, review your case thoroughly. When you have new information to present and/or when your circumstances have changed, please feel welcome to apply again.


As in years past, many bright and capable students from India will continue to pursue higher studies in the United States and will continue to represent a valued segment of college students in the US. We hope that the information in this article will help in getting even more Indian students to American Universities. We developed these new procedures to make the process more transparent, customer-friendly, and easier to comprehend.

Standard questions asked by Visa officers

  • What is the purpose of your trip?
  • Which university are you planning to go to?
  • Name some other schools that you have applied to?
  • How did you come to know about this University?
  • How do you rate your university in terms of education competitiveness innovations?
  • Why do want to go the USA/UK/,etc.
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • What is your father’s annual income?
  • What value can you add to the program?
  • Why do you wish to study in the US and not in India?
  • What is the course curriculum in the first year?
  • Do you have any relatives in the US?
  • What are your greatest achievements?
  • Is it worth spending a huge amount for your graduate program in USA
  • What is sevis and what is your sevis No.?
  • How many I20 did you got?
  • What do you consider your three top strengths/weaknesses?
  • Give me a string reason why you should be given a visa?
  • Why do you wish to pursue the program that you have applied to?
  • Why do you want to attend this school?
  • Why did you select this University?
  • Have you contacted any professor in your University?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your career goals?
  • Who is sponsoring you?
  • Why do you want to do MS / MBA?
  • Is the specialization relevant to your previous study?
  • What are the opportunities in India in the related fields of study ?
  • How many credits are there in the first semester/first year?
  • Why are your GRE / GMAT / SAT / TOEFL score low?
  • What are you plans after completing your studies?
  • What guarantees can u give for returning to u r country
  • How many universities have you applied?
  • Have you got any aid from your university?
  • Why should we accept you?
  • If you are not given a visa, then what is your next plan?

Visa tips

Here are some tips to get you started:

Be yourself, honest, and prepared. Make sure you understand the process and have examined the firm. Speak to current students. Know your resume and cover letter. Contemplate questions and analyze answers. Understand what are your strengths and skills and how rightly to highlight them through example:

  • - Understand your own goals and objectives: To make a favorable impression, to collect information about the firm, and to assess your own ‘fit’.
  • - Understand the firm’s goals and objectives: To provide information about the firm, to collect information about you, to assess your ‘fit’ with the firm, and to leave you with a favorable and accurate impression and our selection process.
  • - Think about why you are interested and articulate your reasons. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions or raise any issues of concern.
  • - Wear comfortable business attire. Ask interviewers for their business cards.
  • - Identify the qualities of your ideal firm – practice areas, culture, size, work/life balance, opportunities for growth, or travel. Be sure to ask the interviewers about issues that are important to you. Engage in conversation and ask questions that show you are interested in the firm and the type of work. Try not to be too ‘scripted’or prepared, but remember to adapt to the conversation (i.e.. sometimes answers to questions can appear ‘canned’). Get a feel for the firm: the values, opportunities for continuing education and growth, social atmosphere, etc.
Common Interviewing Mistakes
  • Lack of preparation: No knowledge of the firm’s practice areas, values, and approach.
  • Nervousness: Try to relax, remember on paper you have already met the firm’s standards.
  • Not listening to question asked: Be responsive and ask for clarification if unsure.
  • Not engaging in conversation: Interact with the interviewers and ask questions.
  • Being too scripted or prepared.
  • Going overboard on flattering the firm: Unfortunately, this rarely comes across as sincere.
  • Not showing enough interest in the firm: We want people who want to be here.
  • Forgetting that dinners/cocktails parties are still part of the interview/selection process.
  • Not having an answering machine or cell to enable firms to reach you during the week.

Inappropriate attire: Business attire is advisable for interviews, dinners, and receptions.


The Consular Officer spoke to me only for two minutes and then denied my application for a Visa. How can one get an impression of a person in such a short time?

Due to the large number of applications, the consular officer cannot devote more time to interviewing applicants and reviewing visa applications. Therefore, you have to try to present your case in the most succinct and, at the same time, in a comprehensive manner. Furthermore, your documents will be reviewed from the moment you file your application and pay the consular fee. In other words, before your application reaches the officer’s desk, it has been pre-processed and reviewed by other people.

Can my American friends, relatives, or business partners help me to get a Visa?

Your friends, relatives, or business partners may provide a letter of invitation or support. However, this cannot guarantee Visa issuance. Visa applicants must qualify for the Visa according to their circumstances, not based on an American sponsor’s assurance.

Who can influence the Consular Officer to reverse a decision?

Immigration law authorizes the responsibility for issuance or refusal of Visas to consular officers overseas. They have the final say on all Visa cases. Neither the Head of the mission nor other state officials and governmental bodies can influence the consular officer’s decision. Their intervention can be only of a recommendatory or instructive nature. The U.S. Department of State has the authority to review consular decisions, but this authority is limited to the interpretation of the law, as contrasted with the determination of facts. Assessment of ties abroad is a factual issue, and thus is not the authority of the U.S. Department of State.

I had all the documents about my job, property, and relatives. I think I have very strong ties. Why was I denied?

According to Section 214 (b), “…every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status.” In other words, the consular officer has to get enough evidence that the applicant has strong ties to the country of his residence and does not intend to immigrate to the United States. If you were denied a visa, the information you presented was not enough to convince the officer of your strong ties.