So, here’s me, a 19 year-old Ayrshire girl officially going to study at Denver University for 2nd year. AHHHHHH!!! I decide that for my first blog post, I’d tell you a little about the American student visa process, as well as the all important interview. But before I do that, I’ll tell you all a little about myself.
My name is Rachel, and I’ve just finished (and passed!!) my first year of Biochemistry at University of Glasgow. I’m from a small town in East Ayrshire called Cumnock, which is about an hour drive from Glasgow. I love netball and running, and have an unhealthy obsession with Grey’s Anatomy.
So first of all, you’re going to have really confusing terms thrown at you, like J-1 visa, SEVIS Fee, DS-2019 form and so many others, but it’s okay, you don’t need to know what they all mean.
The first step to the application is getting your DS-2019 form. This is sent to you by your host university, which basically means that they’re supporting your student visa. KEEP IT SAFE!! There’s a few numbers and names needed on it for the online application and it’s also needed for your interview, so it’s pretty important. You also need it any time you enter and leave the US when the visa is valid, so again, KEEP IT SAFE!!
Next, your host university will send you incredibly vague instructions on how to apply for your visa, which for exchange students, is a J-1 Entry Visa. It’s all done online, and there’s a lot of things you need to have at hand before you start:
- Your passport – It needs to be valid for at least 6 months after you’ll be home, for example, that’s December 2017 for me.
- An electronic copy of a passport photo that was taken within the last 6 months – I just scanned mine in, but made sure it had a small resolution.
- The dates of the last 5 times you entered the US, if you have at all.
- If you’ve held a US visa before, its Visa number of.
. I’ll put the link for the application at the bottom of the post.
Then there’s the fees. The SEVIS fee is the fee you pay to hold a J-1 visa, which is $180, so about £126. There is also an Application and Interview Processing Fee, which I had no idea about. Its £113.50, and both need to be paid before the interview.
SO… the interview.
Personally, I chose to go to Belfast, because it was easier to get to compared to London, and it worked out much cheaper. I got the ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast (definitely recommended!!) which was only £30 for a return (I went on the Tuesday and came home on the Wednesday). My interview was at 9.45am on the Wednesday, so I made sure I was at the Consulate General for 9.30am; if you arrive more than 15 minutes before your interview, they make you wait outside the gates. Anyway, you go into a wee building, through a body scanner, get a visitors pass and make your way up to this really beautiful sandstone building… and then go to a wee side part of it which I can only compare to the inside of a very small bank. You then hand over your documents (DS-160 form, DS-2019 form, passport, and a visa approved photo) to the receptionist, have your fingerprints taken, and wait for about an hour later than your scheduled time. Then after your bum is well and truly numb from waiting, you’re called into a small room with a glass booth, and the interview begins…and ends after 30 seconds! For my interview, I was asked where and what I was intending to study, then told my visa would arrive next week. And that’s it. It’s nothing to worry about, and honestly, I was pretty annoyed that it was so short, but at least I had more time for shopping afterwards!
The consulate keep your documents and passport for about a week or so, then send them to a pick up location which you can choose, or you can have them couriered to your house; this costs £18. There are only two pick-up locations in Scotland – Motherwell and Livingston, so unless you’re local to either of these, it’s easier to have it couriered.
So that’s all for this post, if you’ve any questions, drop me an email and I’ll reply as quick as I can. You can also send me a wee message on Faceboook: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visa Application Page – https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC
Information About the Visa Application – https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-gb/niv/information/niv