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22nd Nov 2022
Afia Azmi

Visa and travel made easy: documents, budgeting and other tips

Traveling is unbelievingly exciting but can be very scary if it is your first time. There can be loads of unanswered questions. Take look into the blog for a few helpful tips.

Travelling Tips

Below are some of the helpful tips to make your first time travelling as hassle free and as easy to organize as possible.

  • Do not leave things unattended or with a stranger particularly at airports and terminals.
  • Travel insurance will cover emergency medical needs, baggage protection, travel accident protection. Ask the travel advisor about it.
  • Valuables such as camera or jewellery to be hidden away with the rest of your essential documents either in a money belt or a safe.
  • All zipped sections of the backpack to be kept locked together
  • It is most reliable to deal with authorized agents especially while handling money.
  • Remember to book your first nights’ accommodation before you arrive at your destination.
  • Carry a guide book of the destination country to understand the layout of the town or city.
  • It is always advisable to arrive during the day, if you are travelling alone.
  • Be alert in the country of arrival and dress in clothes that blend with crowds to be free from any hassles

Travel Budgeting

Good pre-trip research will make working out a realistic budget easier. Work out how much you would need daily for food, accommodation, and other activities as per the requirement. Take atleast two forms of payment – a mixture of cash, card or traveller's cheque. Use a money belt to carry the bulk of your money and your important documents. Take a wallet for loose spending and day-to-day spending.

Carry only as much as you need for the day, and in poorer countries, always carry small denominations and ensure you keep them safe. Traveller's cheques are another secure and hassle-free way of carrying money – but remember to keep a record of numbers separate from your cheques. Credit cards are indispensable and can be used to withdraw local currency from cash machines worldwide. It is a flexible and safe way to carry money and a good way of paying for last-minute airfares and slapping meals. Using your bank card will avoid problems of running into massive credit card bills, and bank cards can be used in ATMs worldwide.

Travel Packing

Preparing properly for a trip is unbelievably essential, not only when and where to go, but also what you take with you, including who you take with you. Check luggage weight and size limits for certain airlines and countries. A basic first aid kit is essential. Items to pack could include painkillers, bandages, travel sick pills, mosquito repellent, and even emergency diarrhoea remedies. Take purification tablets or a water element if you travel to places where tap water is not safe to drink. Be prepared for any climate. This means taking an extra pair of clothes in your hand baggage; if your airline loses your bag, you can have a clean change of clothes this way.

Travel Documentation

Take out adequate travel insurance and check that the cover is appropriate. Have a valid passport and the necessary visas. Take photocopies of your passport, visa and travel insurance and leave them with someone reliable at home. This could help during the contingency misplacement of the official document.

Passport and Visa

A passport and a Travel Visa are now required for all International Travel. These documents indicate that a person has been authorized to enter a country and often come in the form of a sticker or stamp attached to the passport.

Documents required to apply for the visa

Before you can apply for your F-1 student visa for the USA, you must apply to and be accepted by a school approved by the SEVP. Once accepted, you will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee to be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Then, your school will provide you with a letter called Form I-20. This form will be presented to the consular officer when you attend your F-1 visa interview. If your spouse and children plan to reside in the USA with you while you study, they will be required to have individual Form I-20s, but they will not need to be enrolled in the SEVIS.

Applying for the F-1 student visa may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate you are dealing with. You will be required to pay a non-refundable visa application fee. An online visa application is available, allowing you to complete and print the Form DS-160 to take to your F-1 visa interview.

You can schedule your F-1 visa interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate. Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so applying for your VISA a little earlier than expected is advisable. An F-1 student visa for the USA can be issued up to 120 days before your course of study start date. You will only be able to enter the U.S. with an F-1 visa 30 days before your start date. The following documents are required for your F-1 visa interview:

  • A valid passport
  • The Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
  • The application fee payment receipt
  • A passport photo
  • A Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status (Form 1-20)<br>

Additional documents may be requested to prove your eligibility for the F-1 student visa, including academic transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates. Scores of standardized tests such as TOEFL, SAT, GRE or GMAT may also be requested, as well as proof of your intent to depart the U.S. after your program is complete and confirmation of your financial stability. The test that needs to be taken depends on the university's specifications.

Your F-1 visa interview will determine whether you are qualified to receive an F-1 student visa for the USA. Assuming that you have collected the appropriate documents and meet all of the F-1 visa requirements, your visa will be approved at the consular officer's discretion. You may also be required to pay a visa issuance fee. Digital fingerprint scans will be taken for records. Your passport will be taken so that you can get your visa, and you will be informed when you can get it back, either by pick-up or in the mail.

Remember that visa issuance is only guaranteed if you get admission from your study place. Make final travel plans once you have your visa approved. If your visa is denied, you will be given a reason based on the section of the law which applies to your ineligibility. Filing a waiver of ineligibility is possible in some cases.

Financial Documents Required

Students applying for F-1 status must show documentary evidence to prove that enough funds are readily available for the first year of expenses. All financial documents must be dated and less than 6 months old. It should indicate the type and amount of currency. English translation of the documents must be provided. If you have a family sponsor and the bank account is not in the student's name, a statement signed by the sponsor or account holder should be available. The statement should address the Students name, the Account holder's relationship to the student for whom support is provided, and the account holder's ability to financially support the student during the study period. In some cases, an affidavit template can be filled and signed.

An official bank statement for checking the account, a savings account, a stock holding, or a certificate of deposit must be submitted for use. An official bank letter on the bank's letterhead indicating the account holder's name, the date the account opened, the average balance, and the current ratio is also requested. A scholarship or sponsorship letter verifying the amount, source and date of the student's award will be provided by the university in case the candidate becomes eligible for a scholarship.

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