U.S. Student Visa Explained
When it comes to studying abroad, the United States of America is the most preferred destination, attracting millions of international students. If you’re not a U.S. citizen and are planning to study there, you’ll need to have a U.S. student visa. A student visa allows you to temporarily reside in the country while enrolled in an approved academic or vocational program. While applying for a student visa is crucial for studying abroad, it can be a very long and confusing process.
Our article discusses the steps of applying for and securing a U.S. student visa.
Types of U.S. student visas
There are different types of student visas, and each serves a different purpose.
- F-1 visa: This visa is for college, university, high school, and language programs.
- M-1 visa: This visa is for non-academic and vocational programs. These programs are typically short-term and career-focused.
- J-1 visa: This visa is for exchange students, interns, scholars, and au pairs.
What do you need to apply for a U.S. student visa?
Below are some specific things you need when applying for a student visa.
Every international student must have a valid passport issued by their home country. The passport must be valid till at least 6 months after the end of your program in the United States.
- A passport-sized photograph
You’re also required to submit a recent passport-sized photograph (taken within the past 6 months). This photo will be used as a visa photograph.
Applying for a visa is not free. You’ll need a decent amount of money to pay for different visa-related fees.
How do you apply for a U.S. student visa?
There are five stages when applying for a student visa.
- Apply to and get accepted by a SEVP-approved school in the United States
You will only be eligible for a student visa after you’ve been accepted to an institution on the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) list.
You must meet your desired institution’s admissions requirements and provide proof of financial capability. Once the institution has accepted you, it will enroll you in the SEVIS system, and you’ll be sent a SEVIS-generated document, depending on the visa you’re eligible for.
The institution should accept you 6 to 12 months before your program begins.
- Pay the SEVIS fee
The fee is US$ 200 for M-1 and F-1 students, US$ 180 for J-1 students, and US$ 35 for J-1 visa holders working as au pairs or in summer work or travel.
- Complete your visa application
Carefully fill in the online visa application DS-160 form and upload your passport photograph.
- Pay the visa application fee
The visa fee, also known as the Machine-Readable Visa Fee (MRV fee), is non-transferable and non-refundable. Review the payment methods made available by your consulate website or embassy and pay the fee.
- Schedule and attend a visa interview
The final step in your visa application is to schedule and attend a visa interview. You can interview through the phone, online, or by visiting your nearest U.S. consulate or embassy.
There’s no guarantee that the embassy will issue you a student visa. Therefore, don’t buy plane tickets or make travel plans until you have a visa.
To learn more about the U.S. student visa application process, visit the Department of State website.
Are you looking for a U.S. immigration lawyer in Montreal?
At Silver Immigration, we help students secure status to live and study in the United States.
Call us today to schedule a consultation with our U.S. immigration lawyer.