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International MBA Students: Visa Process Overview

International students make up an important contingency in many U.S. MBA programs and provide valuable contributions and additional perspectives in the classroom. But, what does it take to get there? Outside of the typical MBA application process for domestic students, there is an international MBA students visa process that candidates must complete. The following describes an overview of that process and what international students can expect as they're preparing for an MBA program as an international student.

International MBA Students Visa Process Steps

  1. Enroll in SEVIS: Once a student has been accepted to the MBA program, his or her school sends paperwork to complete enrollment in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This system holds information on international students that can be accessed by the various programs and agencies with which the students are involved during their stay. There is a fee involved with enrollment, which can vary among students, but is usually around $200.
  2. Schedule a Visa Interview: International students need to make an appointment for a visa interview with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. At that interview, several types of documentation are needed, including:
  • Receipt showing payment of the SEVIS fee
  • The document supplied by the appropriate academic institution indicating the student qualifies for a visa. In most cases, this is Form I-20, officially known as the "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - For Academic and Language Studies."
  • Proof of Funds. International students are required to show proof that they can afford to live in the U.S. and pay tuition without working. More information on the specifics of providing proof of funds can be found on the F-1 Student Visa Website.
  • A completed Visa application form and processing fee.

    3. Wait for the Visa to be Processed. International students can check wait times on the Department of State Website for their particular location. Most institutions recommend international MBA students begin their visa process a year ahead of their planned start date in the MBA program.

    Although it may seem intimidating or overwhelming at first, the process may be easier than most students think. After all, the U.S. Department of State states that 6.6 million people went through the process to complete non-immigrant visas in 2008. Learn about the international MBA students visa process as outlined above and set aside time to complete the process, and an MBA program is not too far away.