February 13, 2011

Applying for Visa

Disclaimer: Always refer to the website of the US Embassy in Singapore, US Travel Docs, and Duke Visa Services for the latest updates on visa issues. While we will try our best to keep this page updated, we are not liable for any discrepancies. Ultimately, its YOUR visa on the line, so make sure you triple-check everything.

Typically, foreign students coming to the USA for undergraduate study will apply for an F-1 Visa. This visa is the most common for foreigners who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States at an approved school, such as an accredited U.S. college or university, private secondary school, or approved English language program.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to obtaining your F-1 Visa:

  1. After receiving forms and instructions from Duke Visa Services, complete them, attach proof of funding, and mail them back to Duke Visa Services. Proof of funding can be an official letter from your scholarship provider with total amount of funding provided and date through which funding will be provided, or a bank statement for those on Father-Mother Scholarship.
  2. You should receive your I-20 form from Duke Visa Services once you’ve sent them the forms. CHECK FOR ERRORS on your I-20; we have had people with incorrect information on their I-20s. Notify Duke Visa Services if there are any and they will mail you another.
  3. Register and create an account at US Travel Docs website; this is where you will be booking your visa appointment.
  4. Complete Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information. Once you’ve completed it, you will get a page with a barcode to print out.
  5. Pay your visa fee (MRV fee) at any Standard Chartered branch or Singpost office.
  6. Currently it costs USD 140 for an F-1 Visa.

Application Items

Each applicant for a student visa must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information.

  • A passport valid for travel to the United States which has an expiration date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.

  • One (1) 2×2 photograph. Specifications in the link provided; note that this is NOT regular passport photo size.

  • A receipt showing payment of the non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee (the MRV fee) of US$160, paid in local currency. Please visit this page for information about paying this fee. If the visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on the applicant’s nationality. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is. ***NOTE: This fee can only be paid via Standard Chartered Bank.***

  • For F and M applicants: Approved I-20 from your U.S. school or program.

  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating the SEVIS fee has been paid. For more information about SEVIS, visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program website.

In addition to these items, every applicant must present an interview appointment letter confirming that they have booked an appointment through this service. Applicants may also bring whatever supporting documents they feel are necessary to support the information they are providing to the consular officer, for example evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip.

Those applicants who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested person will provide support. Depending on individual circumstances, applicants may provide other documentation substantiating the trip’s purpose and specifying the nature of binding obligations, such as family ties or employment, which would compel their return abroad.

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. Consular officers may consider the applicant’s specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.