A step by step procedure for F1 US VISA application from India

Starting September 2012, there is a change in the F1 VISA application process. Read this article for the new application process: New process for F1 VISA applicants FALL 2013

This article explains all the important steps that you must follow in order to apply for an F1 US VISA from India. The process also involves all the important VISA centres and consulate details in India from where you can complete the formalities.

F1 US VISA steps by step procedure for Indian applicants
Follow these steps in order to successfully obtain an F1 US student VISA. The steps may change based on the US consulates, but in general these steps are essential for Indians who wish to go to US on an F1 status for higher education.

1. Scan photograph which meets US VISA criteria: When you start your US VISA application for F1 VISA, you will have to fill a DS-160 form for which you will have to have a scanned digital photograph ready. You need to upload the photograph in your online F1 VISA application. Hence, make sure you have a digital photograph in JPEG/PNG format ready to be uploaded in your DS-160. 

2. Complete the online 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://www.vfs-usa.co.in. The DS-160 form must be completed online. Your session times out after 30 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. 

3. 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.

4. 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 at the time of the US 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.

5. 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.   

6. Pay F1 US VISA application fee at HDFC bank: You can pay the US VISA application fee only at an HDFC bank branch. You can check the consulate website for the list of HDFC bank branches issuing F1 US VISA fee receipt. The US visa fees can be paid in cash, cheque or in the form of a DD. The F1 US VISA application fee is $160. Two receipts – one blue and one pink will be given to you. A 10-digit barcode will be pasted on both the receipts. You need to carry the fee payment receipt to the consulate during your F1 VISA interview.

7. Book an F1 US VISA interview appointment: You will have to wait for about 48 hours after you have obtained an HDFC fee receipt before you can book your appointment for F1 VISA. The barcode on the F1 fee receipt gets activated only after 48 hours. Check for the available dates at your respective consulates and make an appointment online or personally after visiting the nearest consulate office.

8. Submit documents at nearest VFS centre: Some of the US consulates in India, like the Mumbai consulate, require prior submission of important documents such as the I-20 and passport. Make sure you submit these documents three days prior to the F1 VISA interview.

9. US F1 VISA interview: Every F1 VISA aspirant has to give a VISA interview at the consulate he specified while booking an appointment. Random question based on the field of study, University and aspirations of the student are asked. After the interview, the VISA interviewer either grants you the F1 VISA or rejects your VISA. If your VISA is granted, you will receive an F1 VISA stamped passport in 2-3 business days. Else, the interviewer will return your passport and apologize for rejecting your VISA.

Read this article if you are confused regarding the timing of the F1 VISA application: When to apply for a US F1 VISA