Passport and planned itinerary
The DS-160 form can be accessed at http://usembassy.state.gov/. The form will require an hour or so to complete. Be vigilant while filling out the form and answer all the questions carefully. An alpha-numeric barcode confirmation page will be generated post the completion of the DS-160 form which will be required for the appointment at the Visa Application Center and for the interview at the Embassy/Consulate.
The next step is making an appointment for interview with an US embassy or consultancy. Make sure your paperwork is in order. Whether or not you would be getting a visa depends upon your performance in the visa interview so prepare well for the interview. Be confident and honest while answering the questions asked by the interviewer. Make sure that all your documents are clear so as to prevent any discrepancies. Your visa may be denied if the official believes that you are going to US to live permanently, so make sure that you do not show any such intentions of settling in US.
After Mr. Donald Trump has been made the US President, there has been a lot of speculation that it might become difficult to get an US visa. Though he has proposed a few changes like hiking the visa application fees, etc, limited changes have been enforced as of now. Thus the process of getting an US visa remains the same. For a detailed explanation on how this could impact student visas, please read the blog published by us:
US non-immigrant visa has been classified into various categories. Some of these are mentioned below:
This visa is available for an employee of a foreign country who has been working with a company, holding either a managerial or executive position, affiliated to the prospective US employer for more than a year. This visa type entitles the employee to enter US for a limited duration pursuant to the terms of admission as defined by the given visa class. The L-1A category has a 7 year maximum period of stay. L-1A visas are granted initially for a 3 year period of time and can be extended furthermore. It is important to consider timing issues when applying for an L-1A visa. The process is same as the general process but here the US employer is supposed to file an I-129 form (Petition for a nonimmigrant worker) on behalf of the employee. You should allow 30 to 90 days for the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) to process the case after the documents are filed. Once that is done, it takes a several weeks for the embassy or consulate to issue the visa stamp that allows the foreign national to enter the United States in L-1A visa status. L-1A visa allows an individual to apply for the Green Card (permanent residency) in the US by filing a parallel EB-1 Multinational Manager or Executive Immigrant Visa case. EB-1 category would save you the trouble of going through the time-consuming ‘Labor Certification Process’ and would allow you to directly file for I-140 form (Petition for an immigrant worker). This makes it possible to obtain Green Card in just 1 year as opposed to 8+ years that it takes for Indians in all other US visa categories. Also, L-1A is a ‘dual-intent’ visa which means that you can apply for the permanent residency without risking L-1A status.
This visa is available for an employee of a foreign country who has been working with a company, having ‘specialized knowledge’ about company’s products and services, affiliated to the prospective US employer for more than a year. The L-1B category has a 5 year maximum period of stay. It is initially granted for 3 years and can be extended up to 5 years. The process is same as of L-1A visa. This category may take 2-3 months as the processing time. Unlike the L-1A visa category, L-1B visa status holders do not have the privilege of directly filing for the I-140 form. They have to follow the regular process of applying for the Green Card which could take years.
This visa is available to a temporary worker in a ‘speciality occupation’. This category has a 3 year period of stay which can be extended up to 6 years. This is the visa an Indian national typically gets once he/she starts working full-time in the US. H1B has a current annual cap of 65,000, along with an additional 20,000 spots reserved for holders of a US Masters degree. As the number of applicants usually exceeds the annual ceiling (it was ~200,000 in 2017), a lottery system is used to decide who gets in. The process of getting an H-1B visa involves the employer filing a Labor Application Form (LCA) and then the I-129 form, on behalf of the employee. H-1B visa category is more flexible as compared to the L-1 visa category. You can change your company and location in the former, while the latter does not permit you to do so.
This is the most common type of student visa. Any student who wishes to pursue higher education from a US accredited college or university can get an F1 visa. For applying for a F1 visa, in addition to the regular process, you would be asked to present an approved I-20 form issued by your college or university and an I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating that you have paid the SEVIS fee. It is recommended that you apply for your F-1 as soon as possible. You should apply at least 2 months before you actually intend to go to the US. Students holding an F-1 visa status can work after the completion of their degree under Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT allows you to work for a period of 12 months but STEM- science, technology, engineering and mathematics- majors can extend their OPT for an additional period of 24 months - so, 36 months in total. This can give you 3 shots at H1B, making the odds of missing out on the lottery extremely low - only 12.5% even if we assume that the probability of getting it a single attempt is just 50%. Non-STEM majors do not have any such advantage of extending their OPT period.
While OPT allows you to work after the completion of your degree, you can also work before as an intern under Curricular Practical Training (CPT). CPT is issued by your college for 364 days, only after you have completed two semesters of your course. It gives you temporary authorization to gain practical work experience in your own field of study.
J1 visa category provides foreign nationals with an opportunity for professional development as an exchange visitor. The process involves filling out the DS-160 form, Form DS-2019, that is, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, and Form I-797C, that is, Notice of Action indicating that you have paid the SEVIS fee. You must provide enough evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your expenses in abroad and you are going to US for a temporary period. The validity of J-1 visa for an intern is just 12 months while for a research scholar, it is 5 years.