Applying to study in the US can be pretty confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are all kinds of forms and applications which need to be filled out, and a specific order that they all need to be filled out in. Before you are able to get your student visa, for example, you have to first get what is called an I-20 form. And to get your I-20 form, you have to prove that you can finance your time studying in the US. This is because it is required by US law that you prove that you can afford to study in the US, the proof of funds to get your I-20 is how the US determines that you are financially secure enough.
Because of the high cost of living and tuition, many international students rely on at least one sponsor who will help out financially. You are allowed to have as many sponsors as you want, and each one that plans on being a sponsor will need to fill out an affidavit of annual cash support stating that they promise to send you a certain amount of money, as well as a proof of income. The proof of income can be a letter from your sponsor’s employer, income tax returns, an income estimate by a bank, or a bank statement showing that there is enough money to cover the promised amount. If you have sponsors who plan on providing you with a free room and board, they will also need to show a proof of income as well as copies of their lease, deed, rent receipts and/or any other documentation that the university can use to verify ownership of the property.
It is also important that your sponsors do not exaggerate how much money they are able to cover when providing the university with a proof of funds to get your I-20. While your sponsors may think they are helping you by exaggerating, they are actually putting you in danger of having your I-20 form rejected. The reason that you are required to show a proof of funds to get your I-20 is because it is far too risky to move to the US without a guaranteed source of income. If a sponsor backs out and you don’t have enough money to continue living in the US, you would have to move home and stop pursuing your education.
Once you have your I-20 form, you have completed one of the first steps to studying in the US. You will then be eligible to get your F-1 student visa, which will allow you to legally stay in the country and study in a US university full time!
*Visa application photo thanks to Shutterstock