You just got accepted to university and now your mom wants to know what's next. No problem, Mom. We'll explain everything! We've provided detailed information that applies to Dubai students accepted to universities (undergraduate, graduate, and MBA) in the United States. Here are the next 10 steps in the process, taking you from acceptance to arrival.
1. Accept your university back by paying your deposit.
Once you've gotten your acceptance email from your chosen university, you have to accept them as well. If you have received more than one acceptance and aren't sure where you want to go, then check out our post on How to Choose Which University Acceptance to Accept. Almost all universities complete the acceptance (or rejection) process by mid-June (for Fall semester) so you can wait a little while if you are unsure (each university will specify this date in their acceptance email).
Usually universities will put all the instructions to accept your acceptance in the email they sent you (or the 3 or more emails they will send in rapid succession after they accept you). You'll be required to either email them back with your confirmation or click a link to be taken to a page on their site where you submit an online enrollment form. To make sure you're serious, universities also usually require you to submit a deposit, about $600, online with a credit card.
2. Set up an online student account to get updates on the process.
One or more university emails will also prompt you to set up an online student account. Some universities use different ones from the account you used when you were applying, some use the same ones. No matter what, set up your online student account early in the process so you can see the updates as documents are received. There also may be things you need to do that you don't receive an email about but should complete nevertheless.
3. Provide your financial verification.
This step is one of the most important in the process because it affects just about everything that happens from here on. Every student accepted to a university in the United States is required to provide financial verification in order to receive a student visa. The US government requires that student can prove they can pay for the entire first year of education (including tuition, fees, and housing) using liquid money sources. Basically, your parents (or sponsors) need to have that amount sitting in a bank account.
You'll be required to provide additional documentation:
If you have scholarships, you have to provide letters and information from the scholarship authority to show you don't need to have the money. If you scholarship is only a partial scholarship, you have to show you have cash for the remaining portion of your education.
Some of the requirements vary from university to university. We have seen universities that require bank letters from the bank manager rather than a form. Others required the forms to be notarized by a US registered notary that you can only find at the US Consulate in Dubai. Still others may have had you complete this step in the process when you apply, rather than after you are accepted.
Once you have completed your financial verification paperwork, you have to send it back to the university. Here are our tips:
4. Wait for your I-20 packet.
You completed step #3 so that you can receive an I-20 Application Packet (I-20 for short) from your university. The I-20 packet will allow you to schedule your visa interview and begin the process for you to receive a US student visa. Keep in mind, you CANNOT schedule a visa interview before you receive this packet because you have to provide a number on a bar code from the packet.
In general, universities can issue an I-20 about 1-2 weeks after they receive your financial verification forms. Typically, they send all I-20s going to international addresses via UPS International, which usually reaches most countries within 5 business days.
5. Gather the documents for your visa interview.
Just because you're waiting on your I-20 to arrive doesn't mean you should be chillin'. It's time to collect the documents for your visa interview. If you do this now, you can take the soonest interview and get this process over with quickly. Here's what you'll need for the interview:
Why do you need all this stuff? When you apply for a non-immigrant visa, the interviewing officer is allowed to presume that you plan to permanently stay in the U.S., unless you prove otherwise by demonstrating “ties to the home country." You have to gather enough evidence showing that you have these ties, usually through your family. Your application will likely be denied if the Consular Officer believes you intend to stay in the U.S. after your studies. The more documents you can show, the better off you'll be.
6. Once your I-20 packet arrives, schedule your student visa interview and pay your SEVIS Fee.
Once you have your I-20, you can apply for an F-1 student visa at a US Consulate in Dubai. If you will be a student, you cannot enter the U.S. on a visa that does not allow study (such as B-2, F-2, Visa Waiver Program, etc.). We recommend that you schedule an appointment as soon as possible after you get your I-20. Processing times for visa issuance vary and may require additional time due to security checks.
To schedule your interview, you have to complete a DS-160 Application for a Non-Immigrant Visa online. You can read more about this on the US Consulate in Dubai's website. Here are our tips:
Read all information on the I-20 carefully. Pay special attention to page two, where your legal responsibilities as an F-1 student in the United States are explained. Sign page one of the Form I-20, and provide the information requested if under 18 years of age.
Universities are required to enter accepted foreign students' names into SEVIS, the Student and Exchange Visitors Information System. After you receive your I-20, you are required to pay a SEVIS fee online at https://www.fmjfee.com/. The fee is $200 and paid online by credit card. When you get to the confirmation page, print one copy and PDF the same page (if you can) because you need it for the visa interview.
After you've completed your DS-160 and paid your SEViS fee, you'll be directed to the official US visa information and appointment scheduling website. Any other updates you need on your visa will be found there. Ypu can also pay the $160 student visa application fee.
7. Ace your student visa interview.
In addition to the documents you collected in step #5, you need to bring the following to your visa interview:
The US Consulate in Dubai has provided some great information and the video below on what happens on interview day.
Here are our tips:
You will find you that day if you have been approved, refused, or pending further review. In the past, our approved students gave their passports the same day and received the passport with visa stamp at home by courier 3 to 5 business days later.
If your application is marked pending, it could take a few weeks to a few months for the US Consulate to complete their review. Be sure to send an email to your university to keep them notified of the process. If you aren't approved for a visa by the time school starts, you can start the next term or defer your admission and start the next Fall.
8. Pay your housing deposit.
As soon as you receive an email from the Housing Department, pay your housing deposit. Getting university housing is an extremely competitive process and their is a chronic shortage of student housing. Although some universities guarantee all incoming freshmen a space in university housing if they want it, the best dorms always go first. You don't want to be tuck with the old dorms on the dodgy side of campus...so pay your deposit (usually about $600) as soon as you can.
9. Request your final transcript from your school.
Even though you've been accepted to university and properly have your student visa by now, most universities want a record of your grades from your last term or last year of high school. Before you leave high school for good, be sure to request that an official copy of your transcript is sent to your university. (This won't be necessary if you are a graduate or MBA applicant because you should already have an official transcript ready to send to your university.) If your school won't send one directly, make sure you receive a transcript in a sealed envelope with the school's address on it (like the one above). The envelope must either have the school stamp or an administrator's signature written over the flap.
10. Graduate and take a nice long vacation!
You finally made it! Graduation day is here and you're getting ready to go to university. We recommend that you hang out with your family, party with your friends, and take a nice long vacation. Not only did you earn it, but you need to rest up. Starting university is an emotional, exciting, and scary experience (we know) so you're going to need to be at your best.
Have any questions about the process after you have been accepted? Let us know in the comments!
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