Introduction to USA student visa
- If you wish to study in USA and are not a US citizen, then you must obtain a student visa to pursue your education.
- Visa application is a long process and you must be prepared well in advanced
- There are several steps for applying a student visa, and these steps vary at each US embassy or consulate.
Types of USA visa for studies
Visa type is determined by the institution or by sponsored organization.
F-1 Student Visa (Non-Immigrant visa):
- International who wish to complete their higher education in a government recognized university can apply for this kind of visa and these international students are eligible for F-1 student visa.
- Students can undertake part-time, on-campus employment (only 20 hrs per week during semester and 40 hrs. per week in vacation holidays).
- students can work on optional practical training (OPT) up to one year.
- Spouses or children accompanying international students are eligible for F-2 visa but spouses are not able to work in USA.
J-1 Student Visa / Exchange Visitor Visa:
- for International students who wish to visit USA to undertake exchange programs or practical training
- J-1 student visa employment options are same as F-1 student visa i.e. mentioned above.
- Spouses or children accompanying J-1 visa recipients are eligible to travel on J-2 visa and spouses can work if the permission is obtained by exchange visitor program sponsor.
M-1 Student Visa
- for international students who wish to do nonacademic or vocational studies
- M-2 visa is for spouses or children accompanying M-1 visa recipients.
- Both M-1 and M-2 visa recipients are not able to work but children are eligible for full-time schooling at the primary or secondary level.
How to apply for USA student visa
- International students must ensure to choose an institution and program accredited by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
- You must pay SEVIS fee at least three days before applying for US visa. File an online application for the same.
- Once you receive the SEVIS form and you have paid the required fee, make an appointment with US embassy or consulate for US visa application process.
- An online visa application system is followed and you are required to fill up for DS-160.
- After the application is loaded you will be sent a confirmation message along with a barcode and application ID number. Print the ID number and carry it along with you during your visa interview appointment.
- Pay the MRV fee (visa application fee). If paying online, take print out of the same. It is required when you go for your visa interview.
- Complete the final step of fixing an appointment to attend a visa interview with US embassy or consulate for getting a US student visa
- you must complete the MRV fee payment first, since you need to give your MRV fee number for the visa interview.
Documents required for USA student visa
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US.
- Signed SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 (including individual forms for spouse/children)
- Form DS-7002 (for J-1 Trainee and Intern visa applicants only)
- SEVIS fee receipt
- DS-160 application confirmation page with barcode and application ID number
- MRV fee payment confirmation receipt
- Printed copy of visa interview appointment letter
- 1-2 photographs in the format explained in the photograph requirements. Should be printed on photo quality paper.
- You should also be prepared to provide the following documents:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Financial evidence showing you or your sponsor (i.e. parents or a government sponsor) has sufficient funds to cover your tuition, travel and living expenses during your stay in the US.
Other Important Information
Make sure to carry your visa-related documents in your hand luggage, as you’ll need to be able to present the documents at your port of entry
F-1 visa holders can stay in US for 60 more days after their course completion while J1 and M1 can only remain for 30 days.