How do I apply for a visa?
To apply for a new visa, you will need to complete application form DS-156, Non-Immigrant Visa Application, and DS-158, Contact Information and Work History for Non-Immigrant Visa Applicant. If you are male, you must also complete the DS-157, the “Supplemental Non-Immigrant Visa Application.” Note that consular officers reserve the right to require a DS-157 from any applicant for any visa classification. You may download these forms:
http://travel.state.gov/DS-0157.pdf These forms are also available as paper copies at any U.S. visa issuing post abroad.
Form DS-160, an online form, may be required instead of the DS-156, DS-157, and DS-158 at certain U.S. embassy or consulates.
You will also need one photograph 1 and ½ inches square, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background. You will need to have sufficient currency to pay that required visa fees, or a receipt showing that you have paid the visa fees. You will need your SEVIS I-20 or DS-2019 form. You will want to have a letter of certification from the CIP, verifying your enrollment as well as the fact that you have been maintaining valid (F-1 or J-1) status.
You will also need to show proof of financial support, binding ties to your home country which you have no intentions of abandoning, and that you plan to return to your home country upon the conclusion of your studies. Some U.S. consulates will ask you how you plan to use your U.S. education in your home country. Many consulates will ask you to present copies of your academic transcripts to prove that you have been maintaining student status in the United States and that you have been making satisfactory progress in your program. Plan to have copies with you, but do not present it to a consular officer unless specifically asked to do so. If you are on optional practical training, you will need to present your EAD card and have a letter from your employer, verifying that you are currently employed, your job title and description of duties, and that you are returning to the United States to resume employment.
Most U.S. visa posts abroad have implemented new biometric requirements for visa issuance. You should expect to have your index fingers scanned and a photograph taken as part of the visa process.