Student Visas to the United States

The United States is home to some of the best respected and excellent research institutions and universities in the world and many of these schools encourage foreign students to come and study at their schools.

Probably the first step to studying in the U.S. is to apply and be accepted by an American school. Students may also be able to obtain help from their school in getting a visa.

University students are not the only students allowed to study in the U.S. High school or preparatory students may also apply for one of the many fine private schools in the country.

Young students accompanying their parents to the U.S. may be able to enroll in public schools under the strength of their parent's visa.

Which Student Visa Do I Need?

The visa that all foreign students must obtain to come to the United States is called the F-1 visa. This is specifically for academic students.

Students who wish to go to trade school must obtain 'M' category visas. Also, interns should obtain 'J' category visas to come to the U.S.

What is a Student Visa?

A visa is an immigration document that gives the person a chance to enter a United States Port-of-Entry. A visa does not necessarily grant access to America automatically. All persons entering the country must be examined for suitability for entry.

A Port-of-Entry can be any terminal which connects the U.S. to outside travel pathways. Examples include airports, harbors or border crossing stations at one of the land borders.

Applying for a Student Visa

Applicants interested in applying for a student visa will need to contact the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for the appropriate paperwork.

The process typically involves filling out a form, paying a fee and including some supporting documentation within the application package such as acceptance letters and proof of finances.

Contacts for More Information

Most foreign students apply for their visas to the United States from their home countries. The primary contact that they will have for the process will be the U.S. consulate or embassy nearest to them (said to be within their jurisdiction).

Students can find lists of contact information to the consulates on the U.S. State Department's or USCIS' website.

SEVIS and You

SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Program and is a required part of getting a visa whether one is applying for a student visa in academia, the trades or internships.

The Department of Security controls this online database of foreign students in the United States and tracks their activities to prevent any potential fraud.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are both responsible for the administration of this important program.

If at any time a student in the program has a change of their legal name, change of address, change of field of study, education degree level, funding or on-campus employment they must immediately inform SEVIS.

After the Student Visa

Once a student has received a visa, they may then go to a Port-of-Entry, apply for entry and then receive their I-94. Form I-94 is a document that outlines the requirements of one's stay in the U.S.

Those requirements, such as period of stay, must be followed because otherwise one may fall out of status. Becoming out of status would severely impede one’s ability to apply for any further immigration benefits in the U.S.

Resources

USCIS Student Visa

DoS Student Visa