Studying abroad: A checklist of dos and don’ts for students pursuing US education

Applicants can submit their application documents at designated drop-off points.

By Nikisha Uddagiri  Published on  26 Aug 2023 12:09 PM GMT
Studying abroad: A checklist of dos and don’ts for students pursuing US education

Hyderabad: The EducationUSA university fair in Hyderabad witnessed a vibrant gathering of around 5,000 people on Saturday, all eager to explore higher education opportunities in the United States. The event, organised at the Novotel International Centre at Hitech City, saw a huge surge in attendees wanting to pursue studies in the USA from the initial 3,000 students who had registered online to attend the event.

The event hosted by the United States India Educational Foundation (USIEF), featured representatives from 40 accredited universities and colleges in the United States.

Acting US Consul General and Consular Chief Rebekah Drame launched the event and spoke about the growing ties between the United States and India in education. She said that the EducationUSA university fairs are an important way to help students and parents make informed choices about higher education options in the US.

Key requirements for applicants

Speaking at the occasion, Rebekah Drame said, “Obtaining a student visa for studying in the United States involves four key requirements that applicants need to meet.”

Acceptance from an accredited school: The first requirement is being accepted into a recognised educational institution in the US. Once a student is admitted, the university enters their information into the SEVIS system, a crucial step in the process.

Financial ability: Applicants must demonstrate their capability to financially support their education and living expenses during their stay in the United States. This includes showing sufficient funds to cover tuition, accommodation, and other essential costs.

Academic preparedness: The prospective student needs to prove their academic readiness for the chosen course. This can involve providing transcripts, diplomas, or degrees, depending on the level of study they are pursuing.

Intent to return: Applicants must demonstrate their intention to return to their home country upon completion of their studies. This ensures that the student visa holder does not have plans to overstay their visa and intends to use their education to contribute to their home country.

Simplified visa application process

Rebekah Drame highlighted the improvements made to the US visa application process for Indian citizens. She said, “Visa renewals are now possible for all visa types. Applicants can submit their application documents at designated drop-off points.”

Visa renewals for all: Regardless of their previous visa type, applicants can now renew their visas hassle-free. Whether someone had a visitor’s visa for a Disney World trip or plans to study at institutions like Washington University, in-person visits are no longer mandatory.

Introducing drop-offs: Applicants can submit their application documents at designated drop-off points. These materials are then couriered to the processing centre, where the visa is evaluated and returned via courier, eliminating the need for in-person submission.

Hyderabad’s advanced facility: Hyderabad’s visa processing centre has undergone a transformation, offering a modern and visually appealing environment. The facility’s scalability has allowed for an increase in stationed consular officers.

Reduced waiting period: The expansion of staffing, especially for consular officers, is a strategic move to address the growing demand for visa interviews. This step is aimed at not only benefiting students but also individuals intending to travel for leisure purposes.

Advice to students

Rebekah Drame advised students that picking the right university to study abroad is a crucial decision, and shared some valuable tips.

Research thoroughly: It’s essential to do your homework. Don’t solely rely on the choices made by others, even if they’re close to you. Ask for advice from those who’ve been through this process, but remember, your preferences might differ. Explore various universities and programs to find the best fit for your interests and goals.

Seek reliable sources: EducationUSA, a trusted organisation supported by the US government, is an excellent source of accurate information about studying in the US. Their advisors can provide genuine insights to help you make informed decisions. Be cautious of advice from other organisations, as not all may have your best interests in mind.

Verify information: Cross-check any advice you receive from the official EducationUSA website. They offer a wealth of reliable information that can guide you through every step of the application process. If you’re told something that seems unusual or too good to be true, confirm it on their website.

Avoid fraudulent practices: Be wary of any individual or organisation that asks you to pay excessive fees beyond the official ones. The only required fees are the SEVIS fee (around $350) and the non-refundable visa application fee ($185). Don’t fall for promises of shortcuts or quick fixes that could lead to fraudulent documents. Being honest is the best policy.

Be yourself: Don’t succumb to pressure from advisors, family, or friends to choose a university that doesn’t align with your preferences. Select a school that genuinely matches your needs and aspirations. This will contribute to a more enriching and fulfilling academic experience.

Honesty is key: During the visa interview, stay true to yourself. Be honest about your intentions and plans. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. If you lack a specific document the officer requests, it’s better to admit it than provide false information.

Stay open and relaxed: Choosing a university that suits your interests and goals will naturally make you more at ease during the interview process. An honest and relaxed approach will lead to a more positive experience overall.

Embrace diversity: Remember that the US offers a wide range of accredited universities, each with its unique strengths. Over 4,000 institutions provide courses across various fields. Embrace this diversity to find the university that aligns best with your academic and personal goals.

The EducationUSA university fair in Hyderabad was the first of eight such events that will be held in India this year. The other cities to host the fairs will be Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bengaluru.

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