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STUDENT VISAS

First Time Student Applicants (F-1 and M-1 visas)


If you are going to the United States primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study of less than 18 hours per week, you may do so on a tourist visa - not a student visa. Otherwise, read this message for general information on how to apply for a United States F1 or M1 student visa.

In most countries, first time student visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview. However, each United States embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Students should consult United States Embassy web sites or call for specific application instructions.

Keep in mind that June, July, and August are the busiest months in most United States consular sections, and interview appointments are the most difficult to get during that period. Students need to plan ahead to avoid having to make repeat visits to the United States Embassy. To the extent possible, students should bring the documents suggested below, as well as any other documents that might help establish their ties to the local community.

To allow time to overcome any unforeseen problems that might arise, students are encouraged to apply for their United States visas several weeks before they plan to travel. Students should not apply more than 90 days before the registration date noted on the I-20.

It is important to remember that applying early and providing the requested documents does not guarantee that the student will receive a United States visa. Also, because each student's personal and academic situation is different, two students applying for same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different documents. For that reason, the guidelines that follow are general and can be abridged or expanded by consular officers overseas, depending on each student's situation.


What is Needed to Apply for a United States Student Visa?


All applicants for a United States student visa must provide:

  • A Form I-20 obtained from a United States college, school or university. Be sure to provide all four pages of the I-20 form. The form must also be signed by you and by a school official in the appropriate places;

  • A completed United States nonimmigrant visa application form (DS-156) with photo for each person applying. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent's passport. These forms are available at the United States Embassy at no charge.

  • A passport valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry into the United States;

  • A receipt for visa processing fee. A receipt showing payment of the visa application fee for each applicant, including each child listed in a parent's passport who is also applying for a United States visa, is needed;

All applicants should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;

  • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.;

  • Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • Proof of the student's relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.)

  • It is preferred that families apply for United States F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the United States student visa holder's passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

What Items Does a Returning Student Need?


All applicants applying for renewals must submit:

  • A passport valid for at least six months;

  • A completed and signed application form (DS-156) with photo for each person applying. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent's passport. These forms are available at the United States Embassy at no charge;

  • A receipt for visa processing fee. A receipt showing payment of the visa application fee for each applicant, including each child listed in a parent's passport who is also applying for a United States visa, is needed;

  • A new United States I-20 or an I-20 that has been endorsed on the back by a school official within the past 12 months;

All applicants applying for renewals should be prepared to submit:

  • A certified copy of your grades from the school in which you are enrolled;

  • Financial documents from you or your sponsor, showing your ability to cover the cost of your schooling.

How long may I stay on my F-1 student visa?


When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in America.

For example, if you have a visa that is valid for five years that will expire on January 1, 2001, and you are admitted into the United States  for the duration of your studies (often abbreviated in your passport or on your I-94 card as "D/S"), you may stay in the United States as long as you are a full time student. Even if January 1, 2001 passes and your visa expires while in America, you will still be in legal student status. However, if you depart the United States with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one before being able to return to America and resume your studies. A student visa cannot be renewed or re-issued in the United States; it must be done at a United States Embassy or Consulate abroad.


Public School


There are certain restrictions on attending public school in the United States. Persons who violate these restrictions may not receive another United States visa for a period of five years.

The restrictions apply only to students holding United States F-1 visas. They do not apply to students attending public school on derivative visas, such as F-2, J-2 or H-4 visas. The restrictions also do not apply to students attending private schools on United States F-1 visas.

The restrictions are:

  • Students who attend public high schools in the United States are limited to twelve months of study. Public school attendance in the United States prior to November 30, 1996 does not count toward this limit.

  • United States F-1 visas can no longer be issued to attend public elementary or middle schools (Kindergarten - 8th grade) or publicly-funded adult education programs.

  • Before a United States F-1 visa for a public school can be issued, the student must show that the public school in the United States has been reimbursed for the full, unsubsidized per capita cost of the education as calculated by the school. Reimbursement may be indicated on the I-20. United States consular officers may request copies of canceled checks and/or receipts confirming the payment as needed.


How To Apply For Canadian Visas

Financial Requirements For Visa Applicants

"Proof of Intention To Return" Requirements For Applicants

Visa Requirements For The Business Internship Program


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United States Student Visas. Applying for student visas in the United States of America. USA Student Visas application instructions. Study in the USA !

Student visas are not required in the United States for short, part-time courses.

United States Student Visas. Applying for student visas in the United States of America. USA Student Visas application instructions. Study in the USA !