Before Arriving to the US

In order to qualify for a student visa, students must prove that they can be financially responsible for their studies without needing to work. If you have a scholarship from the UAE, this should never be a problem. During the application process for any school you attend in the US, you will have to provide that proof in the form of the financial guarantee letter.

After you’ve been admitted to a program, the school will send you an admission letter and, if you plan to enter the US on an F-1 Student Visa, a document called an I-20 (For students on a J-1 visa, it’s called a DS-2019). The I-20 is officially called by the government a “certificate of eligibility,” which means that your school has certified that you’ve met their financial and academic requirements. You need this form to obtain your student visa and anytime you travel to/from the US.

Paying a SEVIS Fee

The I-20 has a number in the top right corner that starts with the letter N. You need this number in order to pay a SEVIS fee. This fee is required, and you must prove you paid it before you make an appointment at the American Embassy in the UAE. “SEVIS” refers to the Students and Exchange Visitors Information System, which is the database run by the US Department of Homeland Security. The fee is $200, and it is meant to assist the US government with maintaining the SEVIS database. Once the fee is paid, you will receive a form called an I-901, which you take with you to your visa appointment.

Fortunately, the US government has made it easy for you to pay the SEVIS fee online. Visit https://www.fmjfee.com to pay online. If you can’t or don’t wish to pay online, that website will also allow you to download and print the form needed to send with the fee by mail.

Visa Appointment

At your visa appointment, you need to provide several documents, including your I-20, I-901, passport, and a photo. A complete list can be seen at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#6, which will also include other documents that may be useful.

Remember, when you go to the US Embassy, their consular officials are trained to assume that everybody who applies for a visa is planning to immigrate to the US permanently, so you must be prepared to demonstrate to them that that is not the case. It will be useful to bring evidence of family and financial ties, such as photos, deeds or titles, etc. Dress nicely, and make sure to be a little early.

While at your interview, the officer will ask some basic questions about your study plans and maybe your life. Answer truthfully and try not to be nervous. As long as you’re honest, there’s no reason to be nervous. If you are denied a visa, politely ask why. You will want to know what concerns the officer had so you can better prepare for a second interview. For example, if the officer says, “I can’t be sure that you speak enough English,” you can bring information about your ESL program to the second interview and show how it will help you know more English. Regardless of the outcome of the interview, make sure to thank the officer for his/her time.

Getting Your Visa

Most of the UAE Embassy-sponsored students have no problems during their interview and submit their passport to the US Embassy, anticipating its return with the visa inside within a few weeks. At that time, you can book a flight to come to the US. We look forward to seeing you!

Arriving and Being in the US