This week, in part nine of our Foreign Student Series, we talk about getting a student visa to come to the United States.
Just getting accepted to an American college or university does not guarantee that you will get a visa. And getting a visa just lets you arrive in the United States. It does not guarantee that an immigration officer will permit you to enter the country.
Travel documents come from the Department of State. But immigration is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security.
The State Department has a Web site with all the rules for getting a visa. The address is unitedstatesvisas.gov. Unitedstatesvisas is all one word.
|Chinese visa applicants at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing|
If you are requesting a visa for the first time, you will probably have to go to an American embassy or consulate. You will need to bring a government form sent to you by your American school that shows you have been accepted.
You will also need banking and tax records that show you have enough money to pay for your education. And be prepared to provide evidence that you will return to your home country after your studies end.
All of this is important in satisfying the requirements to get a visa. A consular official will also take your picture and your fingerprints.
Foreign students must contact their local embassy or consulate to request an interview and to get other information. This includes directions about how and where to pay the visa application charge. The cost is two hundred dollars.
You should apply for the visa as soon as you have been accepted to a school in the United States. The government needs time to perform a background investigation.
You cannot receive a visa more than one hundred twenty days before the start of your program. And if you are coming as a student for the first time, you cannot enter the country more than thirty days before classes begin.
Once you come to the United States, you can stay for the length of your period of study. Your school is required to provide the Department of Homeland Security with reports on your status as a student. We will talk more about what that means next week.
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Our Foreign Student Series is online with transcripts, MP3s and helpful links at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.