How to get a student visa
Foreign citizens who wish to study in the United States must go through a process to obtain a visa to be able to enter the U.S. Most students need an F-1 visa to go to a college or university, high school or a language training program. There is also an M-1 visa for vocational programs or other nonacademic programs. The process for each visa is similar, and it will take time, so learn the steps to take and what paperwork you should prepare.
Take these steps to obtain a student visa
The embassy or consulate where you apply will have detailed instructions for students about the procedure, but these are the general steps you should expect to take:
- Apply to and be accepted by your school of choice, which must be a “student and exchange visitor program-approved” school. The Department of Homeland Security offers a list of certified schools.
- Pay a fee to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
- Complete the U.S. student visa application.
- Pay the visa application fee.
- Schedule a visa interview.
- Attend visa interview.
Typically, an interview is not required for children 13 and younger, but this is subject to the discretion of the consular officials. Visa interview appointments may have a long wait time, which is another reason to apply for the visa well ahead of time.
Get the paperwork in order
You will need a current passport, which will be valid for 6 months beyond your time in the United States. The school will send you Form I-20, which must be signed by the school and you. Your spouse and minor children, if applicable, must also register with SEVIS and have an individual I-20. You may also have to show how you will pay for your education and living arrangements during your stay.
Getting a student visa is not a simple process, but it does allow you to study in the United States. If you experience problems with your student visa or need more information, speak with an experienced immigration attorney to help you through the process.