Visa and Immigration

Visa and Immigration policies keep changing and sometimes it is hard for us to keep track. Please do go through U.S. Department of State webpage for the most accurate information. We would greatly appreciate if new students can inform us of any changes.

I am accepted! What Should I do next?

On acceptance at the University of New Mexico, you should start working on getting your visa. This is an extremely important step, and you should take full care while applying for an U.S. visa. A small mistake can derail your plans. Read the information given here carefully. Also check out the U.S. Department of State Website to keep abreast of any changes.

When should I apply for my visa?

An applicant may apply for a student Visa not earlier than 90 days before the registration date specified on the FORM I-20. If the registration date is already passed or the applicant cannot reasonably expect to arrive at the school by the registration date, the applicant should obtain an amended I-20 or a letter of extension from the issuing institution stating by what date the applicant may arrive. Applicants should apply at the consular section of the American Embassy on any working day, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 and 10:00 AM.

Documents required are:

  • Valid Passport valid for at least six months from the date of departure. This is important because of the lack of efficiency of the Regional Passport Offices in India, renewal may take up to 3 months!
  • Form I-20 executed by the authorizing official of institution concerned, signed by the applicant.
  • Evidence of financial ability to cover the costs of the education and maintenance involved.
  • Visa fee to be paid in Indian Rupees by Bank Draft Fully filled DS-156 , DS-157 and/or DS-158 forms.

The Visa Application Forms

DS 156

This form is of 2 pages, must be printed back-to-back on a single sheet, and completed by all applicants. Applications printed on separate pages will not be accepted.

DS 157

This form is of 1 page, must be printed on a single sheet, and must be completed by all male applicants aged 16 to 45 years along with Visa application form DS-156.

DS 158

This form is of 2 pages, must be printed back-to-back on a single sheet, and completed by applicants applying for F,M and J class of visa along with Visa application form DS-156. Two-paged applications will not be accepted.

The Application Centres will NOT accept form DS-156 from male applicants aged 16-45, unless a completed form DS-157 is submitted along with it.


Ask your photo-lab for a U.S. visa sized photograph. The photograph for each visa applicant must be an unmounted, full face photo. It must have been taken within the last six months.

Photo Size

The photo for each visa applicant submitted must measure 2x2 inches (roughly 50 mm square) with the head centered in the frame. The head (measured from the top of the hair to the bottom of the chin) should measure between 1 inch to 1 3/8 inches (25 mm to 35 mm) with the eye level between 1 1/8 inch to 1 3/8 inches (28 mm and 35 mm) from the bottom of the photo.

Photo Appearance

The photograph must be a full-face front view in which the visa applicant is facing the camera directly.
The face should cover about 50 percent of the photo area.
The photograph may be in color or black and white, but must have only a white or off-white background.Photos with dark, busy, or patterned backgrounds will not be accepted.
In general, the applicant's head, including both face and hair, should be shown from the crown of the head to the tip of the chin on top and bottom and from hairline side-to-side. It is preferable that ears be exposed,
Head coverings and hats are only acceptable due to religious beliefs, and even then, may not cover any portion of the applicant's face.
Sunglasses or other wear, which detracts from the face, are not acceptable unless required for medical reasons (an eye patch for instance).
A photograph depicting a person wearing a traditional facemask or veil that does not permit adequate identification is not acceptable.
Photos of military, airline, or other personnel wearing hats are not acceptable. Photographs of applicants wearing tribal, national costume, or other headgear not specifically religious in nature are not acceptable.

Attaching the Photo to DS-156

Staple or glue one photograph to the DS-156 in the designated space. If the photograph is stapled, staples should be placed as far away as possible from the applicant's face.


The Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) is a commercial profit-making Indian owned company. The visa services have been outsourced to VFS by the Consulate. They accept and process applications only. VFS is not owned by the American General Consulate nor is it an American Company. It solely renders service to the consulate.

At the Consulate

Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa
(courtesy of NAFSA: Association of International Educators)