Tips on applying for a student visa
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - May 5, 2019 - 12:00am

I always get asked especially by younger people if, aside from a tourist visa, is a student visa a viable option for them to go to the US? Generally, the answer to that query is: "Is studying in the US really your intention of going there?" You cannot apply for a student visa if you have a hidden agenda of getting employment or getting married here in the US. Doing so is visa fraud or misrepresentation.

So if your clear and clean intention then is to pursue studies in the US, you must first find a US learning institution which would assess your credentials and get you admitted in their program. Check the International Students' Office of the school, if they have one, and ask how to get started.

In all cases, the school gives you an outline as to how much it will cost you to attend classes which includes tuition fees, books, lab fees, etc. These do not include room and board, food and living expenses and other costs associated with studying and living in the US. If you are accepted and you agree to the evaluation, including the costs, the school will then prepare the form (I-20) that will be used to support your application for a student visa.

Here is the tricky part: Even though you or your family can afford the total dollar amount stated by the school, you would have to prove to the USCIS that you have the money deposited in a US bank. It is not enough that you say, yes I agree to the total cost and I have money deposited in a Philippine bank. You must show that the money is actually withdrawable. It also helps if you can show that the money comes from legitimate sources. You do not want the US government to suspect that you are laundering money. If you have a sponsor, the same rules apply as well.

Also, you have to justify to the US government why you need to study in the US and not in the Philippines. If you want to pursue a post-graduate degree or a bachelor's degree not offered in the Philippines, that would be more approvable. But if you plan to take study Nursing in the US, when there's a thousand other schools offering Nursing here in the country, you will have a more challenging time obtaining a favorable decision.

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