Getting a visa to study in the United States

US student visa

Are you looking to study in one of the world’s top universities, earn a prestigious degree or experience on-campus living? There are many reasons to study in the United States. The amount of international students enrolled in a US institution keeps increasing: during the 2012/2013 academic year, 819,000 foreign students - a record number- came to study in the USA. To get a student visa, you must follow specific application procedures. Learn how to get a visa to study in the US.

Studying in the USA: 2 visa categories

The type of visa you need depends on the type of studies or training you are aiming. Student visas usually are valid for the duration of the study program.

For academic students: the F-1 visa

The F-1 visa is designed for people wishing to enroll in a certified school or college or in a language training program. Visa applicants must prove they have sufficient funds to cover the enrollment fees and all expenses during the first 12 months of their stay in the US. F-1 visa holders may work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week.

For vocational students: the M-1 visa

Students aiming to enroll in vocational or non-academic programs must request a M-1 visa. Applicants should be able to prove they have sufficient funds to cover all living costs during the entire duration of the stay in the United States. M-1 visa holders cannot work, except during an internship.

Get your student visa!

After having spent many days selecting a study program, preparing your application for admission and looking for an adequate student insurance solution, you just found out you have been accepted… Congratulations! Remain patient; there are some more steps to take to get your visa for the USA.

1. Enroll in a program and get the I-20 form.

Upon enrollment, the host institution in the United States will provide you with the I-20 form.

2. Complete the online form I-901 and pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) registration fee.

Go to the following website: www.fmjfee.com. The SEVIS fee is of 200$. Remember to print out the payment receipt.

3. Complete the DS-160 form.

This online form is the nonimmigrant visa application form. You will need to upload a picture and keep the application confirmation.

4. Pay the visa fee.

The visa fee is of $160. Depending on your nationality, you might also have to pay an additional visa issuance fee.

5. Go to the US embassy or consulate to attend an interview.

You need to come to the interview with a number of required documents:

  • a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended length of the stay,
  • the DS-160 form application confirmation,
  • an ID photo,
  • the original I-20 form,
  • the SEVIS fee payment receipt,
  • proof of sufficient funds.

You might have to provide additional documents such as diplomas or English language test scores.

Did you get your F-1 or M-1 visa? You can now get ready for your stay abroad.

Impatient? You can enter the United States 30 days before your study program begins.

To find out more about visas to study in the US:

Get all the information you need about visas on the US Department of State website.

To find a certified institution, check out Study in the States.

Date of publication Jun 19 2014

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