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Applying for an F-1 visa in the U.S.? Be sure to avoid these student visa mistakes.

Congratulations on your acceptance to a U.S. university. You’ve worked hard to get this far. Now it’s time to apply for your student visa. The F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa for people who want to study at a U.S. university or college. To get one, you will have to fill out the appropriate forms and attend a visa interview. Don’t worry. Applying is easy as long as you avoid these 7 student visa mistakes.

1. Missing Deadlines
You should apply for your visa at least 90 days before your courses start. Getting a visa takes time and unexpected issues, like missing paperwork or a long wait for an interview, may slow the process. Make sure you take note of any deadlines mentioned in your visa paperwork or interview and provide all the information on time.

2. Applying for the Wrong Visa
There are several different types of visas, and each one serves a specific purpose. To study at a college or university in the United States you will need to apply for an F-1 student visa. If you apply for the wrong type of visa, your application will not be approved.

3. Submitting an Incomplete Application
To apply for your visa you must submit a number of documents, including your I-20 form and a completed DS-160 form. The form will ask for information from your passport, dates of previous travel to the United States, work experience and education history. You will also need to provide usernames for social media accounts used in the past five years. 

Be sure to fill out all the information as thoroughly as possible. If you do not know the answer to a question, ask a counselor or contact the international student office at your university. They should be able to guide you.

4. Lack of Attention to Detail
Your visa application is an official document. The information you provide should be correct and complete. Before submitting your application, verify that you entered dates correctly and did not make any spelling errors. Remember to include only the information asked for. Additional information will not help and may hurt, your application. Not paying attention to details or making an inadvertent typo is one of the most common student visa mistakes – and easily avoidable.

5. Not Preparing for Your Visa Interview
You do not need a prepared speech, but you should have an idea of how you will answer common questions. The area of the visa interview most likely to cause problems for students is “return intent.” You must make it clear to your interviewer that you intend to return to your home country after your course of study is complete. Family ties, a job market for your area of study or plans to pursue graduate work in your home country, all show intent to return.

6. Forgetting Documents for Your Visa Interview
You will be asked to bring a number of documents for the visa interview. Check with the U.S. embassy or consulate that will be hosting your interview to verify which documents you need. Bring originals, not photocopies, to the interview.

7. Lack of Financial Evidence
Studying as an international student is expensive. You must prove that you have a way to pay for your course of study. Your parents may be helping you, or you may have scholarships, loans or your own savings. However you intend to fund your education, make sure you can clearly show where the money is coming from. Remember that tuition is just part of the cost of studying in the United States. You’ll need to prove that you can pay for your housing, food and other expenses, as well.

If you avoid these student visa mistakes, getting a student visa to the United States is easy. Just follow the directions, meet deadlines and provide all the information asked of you.

Have questions about the visa process? Contact a counselor.