Frequently Asked Questions – Student Visas
Q: Is the U.S. Embassy interviewing for student visas?
A: Yes! The U.S. Embassy Consular section is interviewing for F-1 Student Visas. International students are an integral part of American colleges. The U.S. State Department encourages international students to apply to American universities.
Q: My mom wants me to go to one university and my dad wants me to go to another. There are more than 3,000 universities in the U.S. How do I know which one is right for me?
A: Choosing the right college is a difficult process for any student, but it can be especially challenging for international students. EducationUSA.state.gov has programs available to help you narrow down the options with Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study.
The U.S. Embassy has four American Spots located at the National Library in Georgetown, New Amsterdam and Linden, and the University of Guyana Library. These American Spots have resource materials about U.S. universities, guidance for the application process, information on standardized testing, and financial aid. Virtual one-on-one or group advising is also offered by appointment which can be made here: https://calendly.com/amajeed-1/educationusa-virtual-advising .
Q: I found the perfect university program in the U.S. However, it is completely online right now due to COVID-19. Can I still get a visa to live on campus and experience American college life?
A: Students who are taking all their classes online do not qualify for a student visa. If your program is available online and in-person, you will need to choose the in-person option if you want to live on campus. On the other hand, taking classes online and living at home may be a good way to save money during the first two years.
Q: May I apply for a student visa before I apply to American universities? It seems like a long process if I can’t get a visa.
A: No, you must be accepted to a university in the U.S. before you can apply for a student visa. Your interview will cover the details of your plans and finances in the U.S. which you won’t know until you are accepted to a university.
Q: I have three younger siblings and we all want to study in the U.S. Is it alright if I save money by studying for two years at a community college before transferring to a 4-year college or university?
A: Studying at a community college is a great way to start your college education and save money at the same time. Many American students study at a less expensive community college before transferring to a more expensive 4-year university. Many community colleges even have special transfer degrees and counseling to make sure you stay on track and take all the courses you need to transfer.
Q: My cousin who is a U.S. citizen worked part-time on campus when she was in college. Can I do that?
A: Students in the U.S. on a F-1 visa may not work while they study. The exception is students who are in programs that allow for On-The-Job training (OTJ). These programs allow students to get 1-2 years of experience in their fields during or after their studies.
Q: My dream is to be a pilot for Caribbean Airlines. Do I need a F-1 student visa or a B1/B2 tourist visa to attend flight school?
A: You will need a M-1 visa to attend flight school. M-1 visas are for technical and vocational schools that do not confer educational degrees. Examples are flight school, cosmetology schools, cooking school, welding school, secretarial school, or similar.
Q: I was accepted to a university in the U.S. I paid my SEVIS fee and received my form I-20. When I have my interview, what is the officer going to ask me?
A: Congratulations on getting accepted! The consular officer will generally ask you about three things: your plans to study, your plans after graduation, and how you are going to pay for your tuition fees. Hopefully you have already considered these topics during your application process. Bring any documents that help make your case, including letters and bank statements from financial sponsors, leave of absence letter for your job if applicable, high school transcripts, job offers for after graduation, etc.
Q: I am graduating soon, and I want to travel around the U.S. to see the sights before I return to Guyana. Am I allowed to do that on my F-1 student visa?
A: A student has 60 days to depart the U.S. after graduation/completion of the program of study. (OTJ is considered part of the program of study.) After 60 days, the student is out of status on their visa. This can lead to ineligibilities that prevent future travel or immigration to the U.S.
The U.S. is a very large and beautiful country. Students are encouraged to see different parts of the country while they are there. Be sure to plan ahead and travel during your winter, spring, and summer breaks from classes.
Q: I am graduating at the end of summer term and have already been accepted to start a master’s program in the fall. I won’t have time to return to Guyana and get a new visa. What should I do?
A: If you entered the U.S. on a F-1 visa, you could ask for an extension (Form I-539) to stay in the U.S. to study without getting a new visa or paying a new SEVIS fee if you remain at the same school or continue with the same course of study. That means if you graduate with your Bachelor of Science in engineering and want to continue for your master’s at the same university, you can use the same SEVIS fee. Or if you started your Bachelor of Arts in history at University A, then transferred to University B to continue studying history, you can use the same SEVIS fee. However, if you graduate from a Bachelor program at University A and want to start a master’s program at University B, you will need to pay a new SEVIS fee and apply for a new visa.
“Ask the Consul” is a monthly column from the U.S. Embassy answering questions about U.S. immigration law and visa issues. Detailed information about visas and travel can be viewed at https://gy.usembassy.gov/, https://ais.usvisa-info.com/ and https://travel.state.gov/. Applicants are strongly encouraged to prepare their own documents and avoid third-party advice. U.S. Consular rules change frequently, and non-US government advisors often provide inadequate or inaccurate information. Please contact our Visa Information Service Center on toll free numbers: 1-877-246-6788 or 703-988-5765 if you have general visa questions.