Are you all set to study in the USA? Here's all you need to know about visa, vaccinations and more

The US Mission to India on Thursday, June 10 conducted a Facebook Live session for student visa applicants to answer queries  
Image for representational purposes only
Image for representational purposes only

Students who wish to study abroad this year have a lot of questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic situation, vaccination, visa application and more. Especially those who wish to travel to the United States for further education. The US Mission to India on Thursday, June 10 conducted a Facebook Live session for student visa applicants to answer all such queries. The session was hosted by the Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Don Heflin.

Here are all the most relevant FAQs students would like answered.

Do we need to be in isolation after reaching the US?
Ans: No, you don't need to quarantine. However, you are advised to take a PCR test 72 hours before your flight. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) asks for a test again within three to five days of entry.

Is Covaxin accepted across the US? Will I be stopped from travelling?
Ans: The CDC doesn't have any requirement for you to be vaccinated before you travel to the US. However, your college or university might have a requirement for you to either get an American vaccine or if you are already vaccinated, they will tell you if that vaccine is valid. Each college/university will decide about which vaccines they accept. Heflin also added that by the fall session which is around August when students are majorly planning to travel, Indian vaccines might be approved by then. "There's a major push for that, it will be better if the World Health Organisation recognises Covaxin by then," he said.

What if I am below 18 years, India is not yet vaccinating that age group? Can I still travel?
Ans: Heflin stated that most schools are fine with it and they will have an answer for it as the trials have begun in the United States for the category of below 18 years.

Is GRE required for every college or university?
Ans: There have been waivers since 2020 owing to the pandemic, however, it is up to each college and university whether they want your GRE score or not. Do check with your university before applying.

Can the visa applications be conducted virtually due to the pandemic situation?
Ans: The interview is extremely important and also from the legal point of view, the US Visa Office wants to know the student's story one-on-one, added Heflin. "You should carry your basic documents such as passport, photos, financial proof even if you have a scholarship and the correctly filled forms. We need the students to tell us why they have chosen a certain college, why the specific state, the course they have chosen, what their goals are and how it makes sense for them to study in the US. It would be like telling your parents why they would spend money on your education abroad," explained Heflin.

Due to the current situation, will there be limited slots for visa interviews at the embassy?
Ans: No. All offices will open up properly from Monday, June 14, following COVID protocols. There will be hand sanitisers present at the entry point and elsewhere and it will be ensured that people maintain a minimum of six-feet distance.

What if my passport expires in 2023, during my study period, will that affect my visa application?
Ans: No. Once it is expired or even a few days before that, you can apply for renewal at the Indian Consulate in the United States.

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