Studying in America and Canada

Question: I just got my I-20. My course fee is $25,000 per year for a 2-year course. Please tell me how much liquid money should I show at the time of my visa interview to play it safe. Please keep in mind that the normal duration of my course is given 3 years in the I-20, taking into account any eventualities e.g. illness, failing etc.

Answer: The I-20 is a certificate of eligibility for the US nonimmigrant F1 student status. The I-20 alone, issued by your prospective college, is not a student visa. An official from the US Embassy or Consular office must approve the I-20 and issue an F-1 visa. When you enter the US on I-20, you would be granted the F-1 student visa status by the immigration authorities.

Before approving your I-20 for the F1 visa, the US immigration officials wish to ensure - among other things - that you have adequate finances to sustain yourself. Typically, they wish to see that you have sufficient funds to sustain yourself at least for the first year, with a clear, understandable, and demonstrated way of obtaining additional funding for the subsequent years. The amount of $25,000 per year, as you say, is the tuition alone. You also need money for the cost of living, which includes room & board, supplies, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses. This amount varies - just as in India - depending on where you would be located in the US. Your college, we are confident, offers you specific guidance on such costs. This amount is likely to be at least an additional $8,000. So you should be prepared to show to the US immigration officials in India that you have access to $33,000 or more.

Money issues for the visa are the easiest to deal with, provided you in fact have adequate funding. If the US officials believe that they would like to see more funding, you would be told so. In this case, you can return to the officials with the amount that would be satisfactory.

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