Visa requirement for International Students in the US

As an international student, you will have to get a student visa. The United States of America (USA) offers three types of student visas that are called F, J & M.

The Types of Visas

Depending on the type of education you want to pursue, you will have to choose between these three visas:

F-1 student visa
To study at the USA accredited university or college

J-1 exchange visa
To take part in an exchange program offered by high schools and universities.

M-1 student visa
To take part in training programs, vocational studies and non-academic programs in the USA.

Before applying for any of the above visas, you have to apply and be accepted by a USA institution that offers higher education and is certified by SEVP or Student Exchange and Visitor Program. You can check the USA Department of Education to get a list of all the accredited USA institutions.

After being accepted by the SEVP certified institution, you will receive an I-20 form from the international student’s office of that institute. This form will contain all your data and be a record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Required Documents for Visa Application

You will need the following documents:

  • A valid for six months after your initial period of stay in the USA
  • Acceptance in a SEVP certified institute and form I-20
  • Payment for SEVIS
  • An application for a non-immigrant visa and form DS-160
  • Your photographs in specific formats and contact number

Some additional documents you may require are:

  • Academic certificates such as degrees, diplomas or transcripts
  • Evidence to show you have enough funds to bear living expenses. This includes:
    • Bank statements
    • Scholarship program
    • A statement of your sponsor’s financial undertaking

Finally, you may need to appear for a formal interview at the U.S. embassy.

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