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Study in America with a Student Visa

If you're an international student and you have the opportunity to study in the USA for a semester abroad or more, then the first step you need to take is to get a new student visa.

You need to know the different types of student visas, their requirements and how to apply for them before you can even take your trip to America.

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What is a student U.S. visa?

A student U.S. visa is a type of visa issued to non-U.S. citizens who wish to study in America for more than 18 hours per week in a college or university.

What type of student visa do I need?

Depending on your length and area of study, there are three different types of visas that foreign students can choose to apply for:

  • F1 Student Visa - Most common student visa for academic studies in the U.S. For students who want to study at an accredited U.S. university or college.
  • J1 Student Visa - For students participating in an educational or cultural exchange program in the U.S.
  • M1 Student Visa - For students participating in a non-academic programs, such as vocational study or training, which will not lead to a degree, but will lead to some sort of professional or vocational certification.

What are the requirements for obtaining a new student visa?

The main requirements you will need in order to be eligible for a student visa are:

  • You must be enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited U.S. school
  • The U.S. school you are attending must have U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approval
  • You must be able to speak English or be enrolled in English language education courses
  • You must have a valid passport
  • You must have enough funding to cover your expenses in the U.S.

You can read the official requirements on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

What else do I need to apply for my F1 student visa?

You will also need these documents:

  • Valid passport
  • 2x2 picture
  • Completed visa application form
  • SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) document issued by your college.
  • I-20 Form - U.S. Department of Homeland Security document issued by schools
  • DS-2019 Form - A certificate of eligibility for students applying for a J-1 visa.

You will also need to pay the SEVIS service fee, which you can find here, and the visa processing fee.

Finally, you will need to schedule an interview at the embassy consular section. The wait time to actually get an interview can vary by country, so use the U.S. Department of State's Visa Wait Times page to find out how much time you will need.

When should I apply for a student U.S. visa?

You should apply for your student visa as early as possible before you plan to study abroad. It is wise to apply at least four months ahead of your trip. The Department of Homeland Security requires that all foreign students enter the U.S. at least 30 days prior to the start of their academic programs.

Studying in the U.S. is a great opportunity for foreign-born students, so don't let the process of applying for a student visa intimidate you. If you are serious about your future and want to graduate from an American university, then make sure that you acquire a new student visa for college credit.

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