APPLYING FOR A NEW VISA AT A U.S. CONSULATE ABROAD
Remember when you applied for your U.S. visa the first time? Applying for a new visa to replace the one that has expired in your passport requires you to present similar documentation.
Many of the U.S. consular posts overseas have their own web sites. The initiative is part of an effort to disseminate information on visa application procedures specific to the individual posts. Information on consular post policies, procedures and documentary requirements can be obtained via these web sites which may be accessed from the State Department's main web page at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/questions_embassy.html. One feature that a number of the consulates have is an e-mail option. This may be used to ask specific questions of the consulate. The consulate web sites may prove to be a valuable resource for international students and scholars.
VISA APPLICATION FORMS
The U.S. State Department has revised its visa application forms.
The new forms are DS-156, the non-immigrant visa application (to
download a copy, go to: https://evisaforms.state.gov/ds156.asp?lang=1)
and DS-157, the supplemental non-immigrant visa application (to
download a copy, go to: http://travel.state.gov/DS-0157.pdf).
The DS-157 is used in conjunction with the DS-156 to determine visa
classification and eligibility. The DS-157 must be completed by
all males between the ages of 15 and 55, but consular officers reserve
the right to require a DS-157 from any applicant for any visa classification.
These application forms are also available as paper copies at all
United States visa-issuing posts abroad.
The State Department has also prepared two information sheets about student visas on its web site, which may be useful to you as an international student. They may be obtained at http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/wwwhnivfvi.html and http://usembassy.state.gov/mumbai
All visa applicants should anticipate longer processing times for their visa applications and closer security of their documentation.
FBI security checks are now required for males between the ages of 16 and 45 from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The FBI security checks are likely to lengthen the processing time for visa applications by as long as thirty days.
Students who are from countries that have been determined by the U.S. Secretary of State to be sponsors of international terrorism, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Cuba should anticipate extremely close review of their visa documents and a high likelihood of visa denial.
VISA APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
To apply for a new visa, you will need to complete application form DS-156, and if you are male, also the DS-157, the supplemental application. You will also need one photograph 2 inches by 2 inches square, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background. You will need to have sufficient currency to pay the required visa fees, or a receipt showing that you have paid the visa fees. You will need your currently valid I-20 or IAP-66 form, with a recent signature on the back, or a new form if there has been a change in your program of study, level of program, or source of funding. You will want to have a letter of certification from your current school, verifying your enrollment as well as the fact that you have been maintaining valid (F-1 or J-1) status. Students also have to fill up form DS-158. Refer to GATEWAY TO AMERICA book which gives comprehensive details for students on visa procedures and very useful tips to make a success of your application.
You will also need to show proof of financial support, binding ties to your home country, which you have no intentions of abandoning, and that you plan to return to your home country upon the conclusion of your studies. Some U.S. consulates will ask you how you plan to use your U.S. education in your home country. Many consulates will ask you to present copies of your academic transcripts to prove that you have been maintaining student status in the United States and that you have been making satisfactory progress in your program. Plan to have copies with you, but do not present it to a consular officer unless specifically asked to do so.
WHERE AND WHEN TO APPLY
If you are visiting your home country, you should apply at the U.S. consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. If you will be traveling to a third country, you will need to apply for your visa at the U.S. consulate there. A consulate not in your home country will only issue you a visa if you can prove that you have been maintaining valid status while in the United States.
There have been significant staff reductions and increased work loads at many U.S. consulates abroad. The summer is also a peak travel period. Some consulates may be temporarily closed or have undertaken heightened security measures due to concern over terrorist threats. It is possible that some U.S. consulates may chose not to accept visa applications except from residents of that country.
Therefore, you may wish to contact the specific consulate you plan to visit PRIOR to your departure from the United States, to be sure that they will accept an application from you.
In ALL cases, apply for your visa AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE! Consult the appropriate consulate by phone, fax or web site to ascertain visa application procedures and requirements and approximate processing time.
VISA APPLICATIONS IN CANADA OR MEXICO
New U.S. State Department regulations that took effect in April 2002 state that any non-immigrant who chooses to apply for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico (but is not a citizen of either of those two countries) and whose visa application is subsequently denied will not be permitted to re-enter the United States. So, international students should consider this matter carefully when applying for an U.S. visa in Canada or Mexico.