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Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Visa Information

Hooray! You’ve been accepted! Now you have to go through the next step—obtaining your visa. This should be a simple procedure if you have all the necessary documents. The practice of lining up at the U.S. Embassy at the crack of dawn (or even the night before) is thankfully gone. Embassies and consulates all have different application procedures. Some may require you to show up at the Embassy, while others like the U.S. Embassy require that you make an appointment for the interview and send all your application requirements via a certified courier.

Find out ahead of time regarding national holidays that may be observed by the particular embassy you are applying to. Titchie who was unfamiliar with US holidays arrived early on the morning of Martin Luther King day (a national holiday in the US), and was amazed when there was no line! This was before you could schedule your interview with the US Embassy. She couldn’t believe her luck until she found out that the Embassy was closed for the day. To save you time and energy, check the Embassy Web sites, e-mail for information, or call (be prepared for a recording which can be metered and sometimes costly) to confirm hours, requirements and voice out other concerns.

The school that accepted you will send you documents to present to the Embassy to prove that your application for a student visa is a valid one. Documents they will send are usually letters of acceptance, the I-20 (for US students), or a Certificate of Eligibility (Japan). For students who will be studying in the US, the letter of acceptance and I-20 do not automatically come together. You will have to confirm with the school that you will be studying in there and request the I-20, and only then will they mail the I-20 (a fax or photocopy is not accepted by the Embassy’s Visa Section). Waiting for the I-20 might take forever and if you have a tight schedule, you may opt to have this couriered. The added expense is worth it as this guarantees that the document gets to you on time and won’t get lost in the mail. Titchie’s I-20 arrived extremely late and the envelope was torn.

The next section will give info about the different types of visas offered in different countries.

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