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New procedure for US F1 VISA for FALL 2013 Indian applicants
« on: October 18, 2013, 02:03:57 pm »
New procedure for US F1 VISA for FALL 2013 Indian applicants

Effective from 26th September 2012, US consulate have started implementing a new F1 VISA processing throughout India for Indian students wishing to study in USA. Hence, all the FALL 2013 applicants will have to follow this new process to apply for VISA. This article explains this new F1 VISA application process in India.

New US F1 VISA process for FALL 2013
Follow these steps in order to successfully obtain a US student F1 VISA.

Step 1: Pay the F1 VISA application fee
Every Indian student wishing to pursue higher education in US must pay the non-immigrant VISA application fee(F1 VISA application fee) and the SEVIS fee. Both these payments are mandatory for F1 VISA and your VISA will not be approved unless you have made these payments. For more information about the fees and modes of payment, read this article:
What is the SEVIS and F1 VISA fee amount for Indian applicants and how to make payment?
Read this article for information regarding the student F1 VISA application fee and the SEVIS fee which is required by US University aspirants to obtain the F1 VISA.

What is the F1 VISA application fee amount?

All F1 VISA applicants are required to pay a non-refundable, non-transferable F1 visa application fee, sometimes referred to as the MRV fee. This fee has to be paid irrespective of the accept or reject of the F1 VISA.

F-1 VISA (Student / Academic) Application fee: $160
F-1 VISA Application fee in INR: Rs.9120 (Exchange rate: 1 USD=57 INR as of 31st January, 2013)

How to pay the VISA application fee?
To make VISA application fee payment, follow these steps:
Step 1: Create an account at official website: Create account for VISA fee payment
Step 2: Click on the tab Schedule Appointment and fill out all the forms.
Step 3: You will be asked to pay the non-immigrant VISA application fee by one of the three methods described below:
       a) NEFT: Short for National Electronics Funds Transfer. If you have an online account for the savings or current account in your bank, you will be having an option to make online payments using NEFT. You can use this facility to make payment for the F1 VISA application fee.
      b) Payment by mobile phone: If your bank has the facility of mobile banking, then you can make the F1 VISA fee payment from your mobile phone either using the bank's application or through SMS payment. Make sure you use the correct Beneficiary Mobile Number, Beneficiary MMID number and correct amounts. After payment, you will receive the 12-digit IMPS reference number which is very important. Also check with your bank for the daily limit on mobile phone transactions. Most banks have a limit of Rs.5000 per day, so you cannot make the fee payment in this case.
      c) Direct payment at AXIS bank or CITIBANK: You need to print and carry the US VISA fee collection slip to the bank that you are making cash payment to. You will get the receipt after the fee payment. You will then be able to schedule VISA appointments within 2 business days after making cash payment at the bank of your choice. For a list of AXIS/CITIBANK locations, visit this page at the official website: Bank locations

What is SEVIS fee?
The SEVIS fee(also called SEVIS I-901 fee) is the fee to support the program office and the automated system that keeps track of national and international students in US and ensures that they maintain their status while in the United States. Each student is issued an initial Form I-20 by the University after verification of the financial documents. The student is supposed to make the SEVIS fee payment upon receipt of I-20 and without making the SEVIS fee payment, he/she will not be able to schedule an F1 VISA appointment.

What is SEVIS fee amount and how to make SEVIS fee payment?
SEVIS fee amount for almost all Indian applicants applying to US Universities is $200. To make the SEVIS fee payment, you will need to have your I-20 and passport. Create an account at the official SEVIS fee payment website and make the payment by following the instructions. 



 Step 2: Complete the DS-160 form
The US non-immigrant VISA application form, commonly called as the DS-160 form, needs to be filled, reviewed and submitted. You do not need the VISA application and SEVIS fee receipts while filling or submitting this form. So, you can even complete this form before the payment of fees. Read this article for the instructions for filling DS-160 form: How to fill the DS-160 form for F1 VISA application for Indian applicants.
Read this article for the steps to complete and review the DS-160 form which is required for the US F1 VISA application process. This form is one of the most important forms as the information you enter will be used by the VISA officers during your US F1 VISA interview. So make sure you fill out this form very carefully and make no mistakes.

1. Visit the official website and complete DS-160 form: An online F1 VISA application form is available on the website of the US consulate in India. The URL of the website is: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/ The DS-160 form must be completed online. Your session times out after 50 minutes. So, you need to note down your application number also called as barcode number. The next time you log-in, you can resume from the point where you stopped. Complete the form very carefully. Each and every detail has to be entered with utmost care. Any mistakes in the form might lead to rejection of the F1 VISA.


2. Verify the DS-160 form thoroughly: Once you have completed all mandatory fields in the DS-160 form, you will have verify and cross-check all the details entered. These details must match your passport, I-20 and SEVIS fee receipt. All the necessary information regarding education, job experience and other activities has to be entered correctly and hence the verification of the DS-160.

3. Submit DS-160 form and print confirmation page with barcode: After successfully completing theDS-160 form, a confirmation page having a 10-digit barcode will be available to you. You will have to take a print out of this page. This page is required for the OFC appointment which you need to schedule before your F1 VISA interview. This print must be taken on a LASER printer or a high quality printer. It is not necessary to print the DS-160 in colour, black and white print of DS-160 is allowed for F1 VISA.
List of OFC locations and documents required for F1 VISA OFC appointment in India
From September 2012, a new US F1 VISA application procedure is introduced and now students have to schedule an extra appointment at the OFC(Offsite Facilitation Center) prior to the US VISA interview. Read this article for the OFC locations and the documents require for this first OFC appointment.



List of OFC(Offsite Facilitation Center) locations in India:

Here are the official OFC locations in India where you need to go for your first appointment as part of the F1 VISA application process.


Mumbai:
Trade Center, Gr. Floor, G Block,
Bandrakurla Complex,
Bandra East, Mumbai - 400051
Chennai:
No 3, Cenotaph Road,
Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu – 600018
Hyderabad:
1-8-384/385, Gowra Grand, S.P.Road,
Begumpet, Secunderabad - 500003
Kolkata:
Jasmine Tower, 31, Shakespeare Sarani (1st Floor)
Kolkata – 700017
Delhi:
S - 1 American Plaza, (Hotel Eros Managed by Hilton), International Trade Tower
Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110019

What are the OFC operating hours?
Monday through Friday – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday – 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

List of documents required for OFC appointment
1. Passport (Original copy)
2. DS-160 confirmation page
3. Appointment confirmation page

 

4. Print a DS-160 US VISA application form for reference: When you complete and submit the application, a link to print your completed US VISA form will be available to you. This link will be valid only for the first time. Once the session times out, the DS-160 form print link will be disabled. So, make sure you get a print of the form in the first session when you complete and submit your form. This form is not required for F1 US VISA interview.   




Step 3: Schedule 2 appointments
You need to schedule 2 appointments instead of 1 according to the new process adopted by the US consulate. You will require the following 3 details before you can schedule these two appointments:
   a) Passport number
   b) Date of application fee payment
   c) DS-160 form 10 digit barcode number
The first appointment that you need to schedule is your normal VISA interview appointment, this appointment is the actual VISA interview appointment where you will have to take all your financial and academic documents for the VISA stamping.
As per the new procedure, you will also have to schedule a second appointment called the Offsite Facilitation Center(OFC). You will have to give your fingerprints and your photo will be taken at the OFC. The OFC appointment must be at least 1 day before your VISA interview appointment.

Step 4: Visit OFC (Offsite Facilitation Center) for fingerprints and photo
After scheduling of the appointments, you will have to visit the OFC for your fingerprints and photograph. For a list of OFC locations for F1 VISA and documents required, read this article:List of OFC locations and documents required for F1 VISA OFC appointment in India.

List of documents required for OFC appointment
1. Passport (Original copy)
2. DS-160 confirmation page
3. Appointment confirmation page
 

Step 5: Visit the US consulate for your VISA interview
After successful photograph and fingerprint scanning at OFC, you will have to visit the US consulate that you selected during scheduling of your first appointment. Your documents verification and F1 VISA interview will take place and your VISA accept or reject will be immediately informed after your VISA interview. For a list of all documents required for F1 VISA interview, read this article: Listof all documents for F1 VISA interview in India.

List of all documents for F1 VISA application in India
Starting September 2012, a new US F1 VISA application process is introduced and now students have to schedule an extra appointment at the OFC(Offsite Facilitation Center) prior to the US VISA interview. Read this article for all the necessary documents required for an F1 VISA application in India.

List of documents required for the visit to OFC (first appointment)
1. Passport (Original copy)
2. DS-160 confirmation page
3. Appointment confirmation page
For more information about OFC locations and details, visit this article: OFC locations (As mentioned above)



List of documents required for VISA Interview (second appointment)

1. Passport (Original copy)
2. I-20 document (Original copy)
3. Printed copy of appointment letter
4. DS-160 confirmation page
5. Original F1 VISA fee payment receipt
6. SEVIS fee payment receipt
7. GRE, TOEFL, IELTS mark statements
8. Original degree certificates along with marksheets.
9. Original Bachelor degree transcripts
10. Evidence of financial resources: Liquid assets sufficient to pay for entire first year of education and proof of readily available funds to cover remaining year(s) of studies.
Preparation of financial documents for student F1 VISA for education in US
The financial documents are the most important factor for an F1 VISA. Inability to show the necessary funds will seriously affect your chances of getting an F1 VISA. Read the following article to understand the financial documents requirement and start preparing for these documents well in advance so that you will not have to run around at the last minute.

What are the financial requirements for F1 VISA?
Understand the financial document requirement carefully before you take any steps in preparation for the financial requirements. We have listed all the necessary requirements below
1.   Proof of liquid assetssufficient to pay for the entire first year of education including the tuition fees, living expenses and other miscellaneous expenses.
2.   For the courses whose duration is more than 1 year, you must have documents showing proof of funds or likely availability of funds for the remaining duration of study as well.     
As surprising as this might sound, these are the only financial requirements for the F1 VISA.





Documents to be presented to meet the above financial requirements

Although the requirements are as simple as stated above, to establish these requirements, strong documentation is required. The following documents of the student or the sponsor are required for an F1 VISA.
1.   Original tax returns (Form 16) for past 3 years
2.   Bank Statements for past 3 years
3.   Original Fixed Deposit Receipts
4.   Chartered Accountant Statement
5.   Loan sanction letter
Important points financial documentation for F1 VISA
1.   If you can show legitimate liquid assets for the entire duration of your studies in US, you will not have any problems regarding financial documentation. But carefully read the important information regarding this documentation in the next section.
2.   No need to worry if you do not have sufficient cash in your bank account. It is almost impossible that you or your sponsor has such a huge amount of money in your current or savings bank account. The good news is that liquid assets need not be only available cash. Fixed Deposits, Shares, Bonds, Stocks, mutual funds, gold or even your LIC policies can be a form of Liquid Asset. If you add up all these sources, you will definitely be able to produce proof of sufficient liquid funds. Discuss these possibilities with a Chartered Accountant. A statement from CA certifying these funds is a perfectly legitimate proof of liquid assets.
3.   Getting an education loan is the most preferred option to show availability of funds for the remaining duration of education. Your liquid assets, together with your education loan amount will certainly exceed the requirement of funds for the entire duration of your study.
4.   An education loan is sanctioned by the bank after a lot of scrutiny and documentation. You are given a loan only if the bank is sure that you are completely capable to repay the loan with interest. Approval of an education loan automatically gives you this credibility and hence, it is strongly recommended that you apply for an education loan even if you have sufficient liquid funds.
5.   Fixed assets like property or land are not taken very positively by the US VISA consulates. These are funds that are not readily available, their price is always fluctuating and these are mostly disputed. The US consulates are aware of this fact and hence, you should not provide these assets as your primary funds documentation. These may be shown as additional funds that you have along with liquid funds and education sanction letter. It will definitely add weight to your financial documents.

Important information about documentation of liquid assets for first year
The amount mentioned on your I-20 document is the first year's expenses including tuition fees and living expenses. The basic requirement of liquid assets to meet the I-20 amount has no alternative whatsoever and is also required by the Universities before they issue the I-20 to the students. But, keep in mind that the solvency certificate issued by banks to send it to the Universities is of no use for the F1 VISA process. You can use a solvency certificate issued by Chartered Accountants for the purpose of F1 VISA. Another important point is that you should not borrow huge amount of money from a friend or relative and deposit in your account just for the purpose of F1 VISA. You need to show the bank statements of past 3 years and a sudden huge deposit in your bank account or your sponsor's bank account will certainly raise eyebrows.
What is solvency certificate and how to get the solvency certificate from Indian banks?

In this article, you will find all the necessary details regarding obtaining a solvency certificate from bank. For most US Universities, you will need to send this document while applying itself as proof of funds.


What is difference between bank solvency certificate and company solvency certificate?

By definition, a solvency certificate is a proof of solvency which means that the person’s assets are more than his liabilities. Most often the solvency certificate is required by the companies for auditing purpose. A bank may issue solvency certificate to individuals stating the total amount of assets held by the individual. This is particularly useful for students who wish to pursue higher education abroad as most Universities require this certificate.




Procedure to apply for a bank solvency certificate
1.   Contact your bank where you have savings account. Check with all the documents that are required as proof of funds to put in your solvency certificate.
2.   Get your property or apartment evaluated from Municipal Corporation or any property agent. Generally agents charge about Rs. 1000 for flat valuation.
3.   If you are including gold in the funds proof, you can get your gold evaluated from your gold dealer or any jeweller. They charge about 0.5 to 1 per cent of evaluated amount.
4.   Take the photocopies of all the documents required. For e.g. you will require the photocopy of your fixed deposit receipt, property evaluation document, etc.
5.   Submit all the photocopies along with a duly filled form to your bank. Take the originals along with you which is required for verification
6.   The bank official will evaluate all your documents and accept your form and will provide the details of payment based on the number of copies of the bank solvency certificate. Ordinarily banks charge about Rs. 750 for solvency certificate and Rs. 100 for every extra copy.
7.   It is advisable to get about 10 copies of the bank solvency certificate. The bank will provide these copies after 3-4 working days. 


List of allowed sources of funds that can be showed in the solvency amount for banks
1.   Savings Accounts
2.   Company Provident Fund Account
3.   Public Provident Fund
4.   Fixed Deposits
5.   Mutual Funds at current valuation
6.   Shares at current valuation
7.   Gold at current valuation
8.   Property or flat after valuation

The above list of accepted sources of funds for solvency certificate might not be true for all banks. Some banks might not accept Gold or property valuation for solvency certificate. You need to contact your bank for solvency certificate details. But in general, all these sources of funds are accepted by most banks.


Sanctioned Education loan as an alternative to Solvency certificate for US Universities
Many US Universities require a solvency certificate only after you have received admit from that University. Hence, you need to send the solvency certificate only after March when you start receiving admits. If your education loan is sanctioned by that time, you can send the sanctioned education loan document obtained from your bank as solvency certificate. Your University will issue the I-20 document based on this document.
Most nationalised banks require I-20 document before your loan is sanctioned. But, you can get an education loan based on your admission decision letter. Banks have started providing sanctioned loan document with a clause mentioning the requirement of I-20 from University before disbursement of the amount.



Proof of financial resources: There are a lot of misconceptions and incorrect information regarding the proof of financial resources requirement among applicants. Read this article for accurate information about the proof of financial resources: Preparation of financial resources


Proof of financial resources for F1 VISA interview

We have compiled a comprehensive article regarding proof of financial resources to help applicants prepare all the necessary documentation for F1 VISA interview. All your doubts regarding the financial documentation will be solved after reading this article.
Preparation of financial documents for student F1 VISA for education in US
The financial documents are the most important factor for an F1 VISA. Inability to show the necessary funds will seriously affect your chances of getting an F1 VISA. Read the following article to understand the financial documents requirement and start preparing for these documents well in advance so that you will not have to run around at the last minute.

What are the financial requirements for F1 VISA?
Understand the financial document requirement carefully before you take any steps in preparation for the financial requirements. We have listed all the necessary requirements below
1.   Proof of liquid assets sufficient to pay for the entire first year of education including the tuition fees, living expenses and other miscellaneous expenses.
2.   For the courses whose duration is more than 1 year, you must have documents showing proof of funds or likely availability of funds for the remaining duration of study as well.     
As surprising as this might sound, these are the only financial requirements for the F1 VISA.

Documents to be presented to meet the above financial requirements

Although the requirements are as simple as stated above, to establish these requirements, strong documentation is required. The following documents of the student or the sponsor are required for an F1 VISA.
1.   Original tax returns (Form 16) for past 3 years
2.   Bank Statements for past 3 years
3.   Original Fixed Deposit Receipts
4.   Chartered Accountant Statement
5.   Loan sanction letter

What is the difference between liquid assets and fixed assets?

In this article, I have explained the basic difference between liquid and fixed assets. To obtain solvency certificate from banks, you can show all the assets including fixed assets. But for preparing financial proof for VISA interview, you have to provide the I-20 amount as liquid asset only.

What is a liquid asset? List of sample liquid assets
A liquid asset is any form of asset that can be readily converted to cash and used for immediate and urgent requirement. The conversion of the liquid asset into cash results in no or very little loss of value. Cash itself is a form of liquid asset. For obtaining the I-20 from the US Universities, you need to send the solvency certificate which provides proof your financial ability to fund your higher education in US. To obtain a solvency certificate, you can show liquid as well as fixed assets. Following is the list of liquid assets that can be used for US Universities applications.
1.   Savings Account balance – Your account balance in the savings account serves as a liquid asset. You might have multiple savings accounts in various banks. Your parents, brother or sister also might be having many savings accounts in various banks. You can obtain the latest bank statements of all these accounts and calculate the net worth of cash available and use the documents as proof of liquid asset.
2.   Fixed Deposit receipts – Fixed deposit receipts, preferably with maturity date not more than 1 year later is also considered as a fixed asset. The FD receipts named after any of your immediate family members can be used together as liquid asset.
3.   Equity and mutual funds – Your DMAT account statement with proper latest market valuation also comes under liquid asset list. Whatever equity funds, mutual funds, shares or stocks you are holding against your name are considered liquid assets and you may use the DMAT account statement as proof of liquid asset.
4.   Gold – Gold as an asset valued at latest market value can also be used as liquid asset proof. It is highly debated whether to use Gold as a proof of liquid asset. But, after consulting with various firms and banks, we have concluded that there is no harm to show your gold holdings as a liquid asset. The only requirement is to obtain a gold valuation certificate from local jeweler or valuator.
5.   Provident Fund or Public Provident Fund – If your parents have a Provident Fund account in their companies, you can use the balance of the account as liquid asset. Even a PPF account is considered as liquid fund. For company provident fund, you need to take print out of the PF statement on official letterhead of company with stamp and signature. For PPF, bank passbook is sufficient proof.


What is a fixed asset? List of sample fixed assets

A fixed asset is any form of asset that cannot be readily converted to cash and used for immediate and urgent requirement. The fixed asset needs to be valued based on current market value. The conversion of the fixed asset into cash results in some loss of value. For obtaining the I-20 from the US Universities, you need to send the solvency certificate which provides proof your financial ability to fund your higher education in US. To obtain a solvency certificate, you can show liquid as well as fixed assets. Following is the list of fixed assets that can be used for US Universities applications.
1.   Flat or apartment - If you have a flat or apartment, then the value of the flat at current market price acts as a fixed asset. The valuation must be done by local governing body official. The valuations can also be done by an agent or a bank. You need to obtain the valuation document.
2.   Land or plot -If you are a land or plot owner, then the value of the flat at current market price acts as a fixed asset. The valuation must be done by local governing body official. The valuations can also be done by an agent or a bank. You need to obtain the valuation document.

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