April, May and June are visa application months. Applying for US F1 visa is certainly a daunting process that brings up anxiety, depression and what not. So here’s a step by step procedure from beginning till your interview appointment:
Things you’ll need before you get started:
- I20 – it is the form that is issued by your university after you have shown sufficient funds to cover your cost of attendance for first year.
- A valid passport – the passport must be valid for 6 months from your intended date of travel to the US. If approved, you will get a visa of 5 years regardless of your passport expiry date.
- A soft copy of your recent photo ready to be uploaded – make sure you inform the photo studio to produce the file according to US Visa DS-160 requirements. Usually most photo studios in Dhaka are aware of the requirements. You will not need any physical hard copy of your photograph for the entire visa process.
Step 1: SEVIS fee payment
Pay your SEVIS fee at: https://www.fmjfee.com
You must pay $200 as I-901 SEVIS fee payment through a credit card capable of making online international payments. If you do not have a credit card, you can apply for a Dutch-Bangla Bank Virtual Card or go to Bank Asia (Principle Branch, Motijheel) with your I20 and 1 passport size photo but they will charge a service fee of TK 575 in addition to the SEVIS fee.
Your fee must be processed successfully before you can appear for your interview. It takes 7 working days for the US Embassy Dhaka to process your payment so keep this in mind while scheduling your interview.
Enter all the details according to your I20. I cannot stress this enough. The SEVIS ID is printed at the top left corner of your I20.
Print your SEVIS fee payment receipt and keep it with you at all times.
Step 2: Filling out DS-160 form
DS-160 Form Link: http://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
This is one of the most important parts of your entire visa application. Fill out this form with all the available and authentic information about yourself. You must enter all your details according to your passport and I20. Be VERY careful while you are filling out this form. Entering any inaccurate information is not only unethical but can lead to serious consequences.
If you do not have any “US Point of Contact”, use the address of your university and name of your guidance counselor stated on your I20.
Upload your photo given to you by your photo studio.
You can save your application and continue from where you left off any time. Your application will stay on the server for a maximum of 30 days.
When you’re done, submit and print the confirmation page. If printer is not available at that moment you can do it later.
If you realized that you have made a mistake after submitting the application, there’s no need to panic. You can start a new application from the very beginning and continue with that. But while creating the profile for the visa fee, submit the confirmation number of the FINAL form.
Step 3: Visa Fee Payment
THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING AS SEVIS FEE
Before you actually head over to the bank and pay your fee, you must create and complete a profile at: http://ustraveldocs.com/bd
Register using your email and name according to your passport and I20
Click at “New Application/Schedule Appointment”
Select Nonimmigrant Visa
Select “Students and Exchange Visitors”
Select “F-1 – Academic or language studies”
In this page, fill out all your details according to your Passport and I20. Enter your SEVIS Number and your FINAL DS-160 Confirmation Number. The University Zip Code is the 5-digit number at the end of university address and next to the state eg. NY-19703
If your spouse or child is applying with you as dependents for F2 visa, enter their details here. Continue if not applicable.
Answer a series of questions and it will lead you to the payment page
Print the above page and read the instructions. Head over to any one of these Eastern Bank branches and ask for “US Visa Payment deposit slip”. Enter the CGI number and pay the amount stated on the printout of your page (BDT 12,800 at the time I’m writing this article). DO NOT LOSE THE RECEIPT AND KEEP IT WITH YOU TILL THE END OF THE VISA PROCESS.
When you go back to your portal, you will see a textbox asking for “Receipt Number”. You don’t have to enter anything here. At this point, just wait 24 hours and your payment should be processed successfully. Usually, it doesn’t take 24 hours and the portal is unlocked within 9 PM of the same day you made your transaction. You will receive confirmation in your email that your payment has been accepted and you can then schedule your interview.
Step 3: Scheduling the Interview
Advice for scheduling interview:
- Make sure that there is at least 7 business days between the payment of SEVIS fee and your interview date.
- Make sure that you have at least ONE WEEK in between submitting your payment and your interview date. I say this because in my case the DS-160 form was not processed successfully and I had to fill out a new one, submit it and reschedule my interview. Having 5 full business working days allow you to have enough time to fix any problem that might arise.
Print the appointment letter and you are done!
Make sure you bring your passport, I20 and all your documents to the interview. GOOD LUCK!