Trinidad Express Newspapers: Letters | Five steps for attending university in the US

Question:

I’m a Lower Six pupil and would like to continue my studies in the United States. What is the application process and how do I get a student visa?

Answer:

There are thousands of accredited colleges and universities in the United States for you to choose from. The US Embassy has many tools available to help you in your research, including the Information Resource Centre, with a full-time education adviser, the EducationUSA website (www.educationusa.state.gov) and our annual college fair, to be hosted this year on October 28 and 29 at the Hyatt hotel. You can make an appointment with the education adviser by emailing IRCPoS@state.gov. You can also follow us on Facebook to get the latest information: www.facebook.com/ttusa.

The process for studying in the US includes five steps: research your options, finance your studies, complete your application, apply for your student visa and then prepare for departure.

1. The best college or university for you is one that meets your academic, personal and financial requirements. The school that you choose to attend must be a Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP) Approved school. Further information about the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme is available online at: www.ice.gov/sevis/.

2. After you’ve comple­ted your research and made your selection, the next step is to send in an application to your schools of choice. Each school has different application requirements, but most will require your secondary school grades, standardised test scores (such as SATs), letters of recommendation and an essay.

3. Upon acceptance to a US school, a financial assistance package may be offered by the school. Review all financing options to ensure that funding fully covers your programme of study.

4. The school will enrol all international students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and each student is required to pay the SEVIS fee. The school will issue you a document, the I-20 form, which is necessary for all international students coming to the United States to study and is an integral part of your student visa application.

5. Having paid the SEVIS fee and being in possession of the I-20 form, you are now ready to proceed with your non-immigrant student visa application at the US Embassy. Please note, first-time students cannot apply for a student visa more than 120 days before the start of their programme.

The student visa application process is the same as any other non-immigrant visa category. Complete the electronic application and the DS-160 form, pay the application fee at a local Scotiabank, schedule an appointment and finally attend the visa interview. Complete details about the application process are available online at trinidadand­tobago.usvisa- info.com or by calling 224-3099, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The embassy traditionally experiences a surge in applications during school vacation periods when the wait time may increase from a few days to a few weeks. Please maintain regular contact with your school of acceptance to ensure the timely completion of all relevant documents so that your I-20 can be released. Many schools host new student orientations starting in August so plan for travel accordingly. If approved, visa delivery will occur within five to ten days of your interview.

• For additional information, please visit the US Embassy website at tt.usembassy.gov.

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