Every international student planning to study at a US university or college must apply for the F-1 student visa. The university/college sends the student a hard copy of the Form I-20 after acceptance of admission offer. Once you receive your admission letter and Form I-20, you schedule and attend an interview at a US embassy/consulate along with supporting documents to apply for the visa.
However, this process has been amended for this year’s applicants due to disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Form I-20s are being sent electronically/digitally, as postal services are disrupted in India. Students cannot apply for the visa without a Form I-20 as it is official proof of enrolment and acceptance by a US university.
Since travel restrictions are still in place and embassies are closed in India, a smaller window will be available for students to schedule an interview at US embassies for the fall semester. Most students in India eagerly await the re-opening of embassies and consulates and issuance of visas.
Even when embassies and consulates open for visa interviews, it is expected that there will be social distancing measures in place for several months. This means that there could be reduced interview slots and fewer applicants allowed in the embassy at a given time.
Embassies are opening up in Toronto, Mexico City, and Tokyo. The US embassy in Beijing is scheduling visa interviews as early as July 2020. Students from India must stay alert for news from embassies and the international student office at the US university.