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General Information

The USA is the worlds foremost economic and military power, with global interests and an unmatched global reach.

America’s gross domestic product accounts for close to a quarter of the world total, and its military budget is reckoned to be almost as much as the rest of the worlds defense spending put together.

The country is also a major source of entertainment: American TV, Hollywood films, jazz, blues, rock and rap music are primary ingredients in global popular culture.

The United States originated in a revolution which separated it from the British Crown. The constitution, drafted in 1787, established a federal system with a division of powers which has remained unchanged in form since its inception.

Generally, settlers arrived in ships such as this replica of the Dutch vessel Half Moon. People fr all over the globe still try to make the US their home

The US contains a highly diverse population, the product of numerous and sustained waves of immigration. Ethnic and racial diversity – the “melting pot” – is celebrated as a core element of the American ideology.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed racial and other discrimination, but the race continues to be a live issue.

The election of Barack Obama as the country’s first African-American president in November 2008 marked a defining moment in the country’s chequered history of race relations.

At a glance

  • Politics: Democrat Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was re-elected in November 2012

  • Economy: The US is the worlds leading industrial power. Its recovery from the 2008 economic crisis has been sluggish

  • International: The US has a leading role on the world stage, militarily and diplomatically.

Decline of the natives

The original people of North America, who made up several distinct groups of native Americans, went into decline with the arrival of settlers and now constitute a minority of the population.

The early settlers came predominantly from the British Isles. Large numbers of black Africans were taken as slaves to work the plantations of the Americas, while millions of Europeans in search of political freedom and economic opportunity constituted a third stage of immigration.

US flexes its military muscle throughout the world; unconventional forces are probably its most challenging adversaries

Today, Asians from the Pacific rim and Hispanics from the southern Americas are among those seeking what their predecessors wanted – the promise of prosperity and freedom which remains one of the defining hallmarks of “the American dream”.

Despite relative prosperity in recent years, the gap between rich and poor remains a major challenge. More than 30 million Americans live below the official poverty line, with a disproportionate percentage of these being African-Americans and Hispanics.

Furthermore, the global financial crisis of 2008 has left the US facing its most challenging set of economic circumstances since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

9/11 aftermath

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had a momentous impact as the country continued to re-define its role as the worlds only superpower.

Millions of Americans live in poverty

In October 2001 the US led a military campaign in Afghanistan that unseated the Taliban regime. However, the man who ordered the 9/11 attacks, Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, survived until 2011, when killed in a US special forces operation in Pakistan.

In March 2003 Washington initiated military action in Iraq which led to the toppling of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

US foreign policy has often mixed the idealism of its “mission” to spread democracy with the pursuit of national self-interest.

Given Americas leading role on the international stage, its foreign policy aims and actions are likely to remain the subject of heated debate and criticism, as well as praise.

New Yorks Manhattan is a global commercial and cultural center

Detailed Information

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa.

Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of State Education USA website to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, admissions, and more.

When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply.

Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.

Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

You can arrive in the UK before your course starts:

  • Up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
  • Up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months

How long you can stay depends on the kind, of course, you’re doing and what study you’ve already completed.

While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages outlined below, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age. Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Non immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20A-B or Certificate of Eligibility for Non immigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20M-N – Your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20. All students, their spouse and minor children if they intend to reside in the United States with the student, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Each person receives an individual Form I-20.

Students who are authorized Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have a Form I-20 endorsed for OPT, and apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). When authorized, OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to the eligible F-1 student’s area of study. To learn more about OPT, please visit the USCIS Website and the ICE International Students webpage.

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