Ask the U.S. Consul – September 2017

Dear U.S. Consul,

I am currently a Form 5 student and would like to study in the United States.  Could you provide some insight on getting a student visa and how to apply to a U.S. college?

Interested Student


Dear Interested Student,

This is a good question to ask now because the U.S. Embassy is preparing for the 2017 College Fair, October 28-29 in Port of Spain.  Students, parents, teachers, and guidance officers are all welcome to attend and meet with representatives from United States, Canadian, and Caribbean based higher education institutions.  Attendance is free to the general public and more information will be available on our website in coming weeks.

The first step to studying in the United States is to research your educational options, not the student visa application.  We recommend doing your research based on the field that you would like to study.  The U.S. Embassy has many resources available to help you in your research including the Information Resource Center with a full time education advisor and the EducationUSA website You can make an appointment with the educational advisor by emailing  You can also follow us on Facebook to get the latest information:

Some other important factors that would help you to determine the best schools for you include, but are not limited to; entry requirements, tuition and living costs, the availability of scholarships and financial aid for international students, and the region where the school is located.  Do not let cost be a barrier – there are many different forms of financial aid, even for international students.

After you’ve completed your research, and have made your selections, the next step is to send in applications to your schools of choice.  Each school has different application requirements but most will require your secondary school grades, standardized test scores (such as SATs), letters of recommendation, and an essay.

When you are accepted by the U.S. school and agree to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and are required to pay the SEVIS fee.  The school will also issue you a document called a Form I-20.  The Form I-20 is necessary for all international students coming to the United States to study and is an integral part of your student visa application. Having paid the SEVIS fee and being in possession of the Form I-20, you are now ready to proceed with your non-immigrant student visa application at the U.S. Embassy.

Please note, first-time students cannot apply for the visa more than 120 days before the start of their program.  Complete details about the application process are available online at  and