Thousand of students come from around the world to the U.S. every year on student visas since there are no quotas for this kind of visas. There are three major types of student visas:

  • 1F -1 visa: academic studies for individuals who want to pursue studies or conduct research at an accredited U.S. College or University;
  • 2J visa: academic studies as an Exchange Visitor for individuals who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. The J visa is the primary visa for education and cultural exchange programs.
  • 3M visa: non-academic or vocational studies for individuals who want to study or train at a non-academic institution in the U.S.

Documents for Student Visa Applicant

Once you are admitted to a course of study the University or College will issue Form I-20. You will need to book an interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over you. This usually depends on your foreign address.

1Mandatory documents

  • Current passport as well as old passports;
  • Confirmation page of Form DS-160 with CEAC bar code;
  • Visa fees, which need to be paid in advance prior to booking an
  • Original interview appointment letter;
  • Both pages of the bar-coded, original SEVIS generated Form I-20
    • NOTE: all students, and their dependents, spouse and children must register with SEVIS. The school is responsible for entering your information for the Form I-20 into SEVIS.
  • Original proof of payment of SEVIS Fee Receipt I-901. Please note that the SEVIS payment is for the Principal Applicant only. Dependents DO NOT have to pay the SEVIS fee.

1Supporting documents

  • Evidence of financial resources:
    • Proof of liquid assets sufficient to pay for at least one year of tuition and living expenses, as well as, proof of readily available funds to cover the remaining year of studies;
    • To demonstrate financial resources you should bring:
  • Parent or sponsor's original tax returns;
  • Parent or sponson's original bank records;
  • Parent or sponsor's employment letter and/or pay slips;
  • Notarized Form I-134 Affidavit of Support if you are financially supported by an individual in the U.S. together with the sponsor's Federal Tax Returns for the previous 3 years;
  • If you secured a loan to pay for the tuition you should bring the official documents showing the loan approval.

After your have successfully arrived to the U.S., you need to contact your Designated School Official (DSO). This is usually the person that signs your I-20 and he/she will be able to answer questions about your stay, visa, program, maintaining student status, suspensions, transfer to a different College, etc.

U.S. Public School

According to U.S. law foreign students are unable to obtain a F-1 visa to attend a public elementary or middle school. Nevertheless, a F-1 visa can be issued to attend a public high school (grades 9-12) up to 1 year. The school will need to indicate of Form I-20 that the student has paid the unsubsidized cost of the education and the amount submitted by the student for that purpose.

In addition, a F-1 visa holder is supposed to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the beginning of classes. F-1 and M-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your program's start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. in F-1 or M-1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.

If you are thinking about traveling outside the U.S. and your F-1 visa is about to expire, you will need to renew it. In order for you to do so, you must have maintained student status and your SEVIS records must be current.

If you are wondering what 'Maintaining Student Status' means, you should note that the definition of 'full-time' can differ from school to school. This means that immigration regulations may require a more restricted definition of ?full-time? than that followed by your department. The Department of Homeland Security requires that you register during your university's registration period, and if you fail to do so, you will be in violation of student status.


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