Dear Mentor:

When is the best time to apply for a US visa?

I have already taken GRE [Graduate Record Exam] and TOEFL [Test of English as Foreign Language]. I am in the process of applying to the US universities. I have heard that admissions are strict for the spring (January) term as compared to the fall term. Is this true? If so, please tell me if number of student visas granted is more or less for spring or fall term. Is the visa scene "cooler" for fall or spring term?

Cool Dude, Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Dear Cool Dude:

By the way, the term starting in January is called the Winter term. International student visas for the US are not granted on the basis of a quota system. Issuance of a student visa by the US Immigration authorities is based strictly on the government-stated requirements: Visas in the US. So the "visa scene" is not "cooler" for the Winter or Spring term; it is always the same.

Starting a program in Spring or Fall has nothing to do with the visa situation. Schools in the US admit a majority of students in the Fall term. This is particularly true for international students. While schools do consider students for admission in the Winter term, very few are admitted. The reason is fairly straightforward - entry level courses are typically offered in the Fall term. You would have better luck in getting admitted in the Fall term. To use your language, the "admission scene" is "cooler" in the fall, which has nothing to do with the "visa scene."

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