How to Get a Student Visa to Study in the USA


International students who wish to obtain an education in the U.S. may find it a bit hard to do. That is because the U.S. government requires anyone doing so may need a student visa in USA. 

A student visa could be the way to do this. This is a type of document that shows you were given permission to live in the U.S. while you attend school.

Student visa rules for USA may be complex. Sometimes they may also be politically charged. The rules regarding them may change over time as well especially now during the COVID 19 pandemic. It becomes important for students to really understand what these are and contact the Department of State or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make sure they are in compliance. They should also understand how they work. There are numerous limits and requirements of them as well. Students should also look into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to understand the SEVIS fee.

What is a Student Visa?

A student visa in USA is a special endorsement added to a person’s passport. It is a nonimmigrant visa and should include the start date for the student at their school. It is only given to students who are enrolled in institutions in the U.S. Students may live in the U.S. with their visa issuance and study without obtaining citizenship. There are limits to how long a student may use them, though.

Student visas are not just special to the U.S. Many countries control the flow of people in and out of them through immigration and customs enforcement. One way to do that is to issue a student visa whenever an international student wishes to attend a school in their borders.

Students first must apply for access to a U.S. college or U.S. school. Verify first that the school is able to qualify for student visa status by reaching out to designated school official. They must first gain acceptance into that school before doing anything else and get a certificate of eligibility and possibly additional documents.

Student visas in USA are typically available for post secondary institutions of higher learning. They may not be available for elementary school or high school education to visa applicants who may have to pay  the visa application fee. Typically they should be a full time student taking regular or online courses.

There are typically two categories of student visas: F and M visas. The difference lies in the type of school that accepts the student. Many students apply for an F student visa. This includes universities or colleges, and may also apply to programs under this level of education. The M visa relates to vocational schools. This is for schools that may be more trade oriented. They are recognized as a nonacademic institution.

What Are the Requirements for a Student Visa in the USA?

The requirements for student visa in USA are type and length of your school program, your financials, location and clean record of health and criminal history. Some foreign students may find qualifying for a student visa in the US is complex. The application process does not have to be. Students who wish to obtain an F1 student visa USA may need to meet specific criteria to do so.

The first aspect is typically a SEVP certified school. This is a type of university or college with a visitor exchange program. It may also be a conservatory or seminary. It may be a private elementary or middle school with an exchange visitor program. These organizations have usually applied for this status. That means they have received certification. This allows them to enroll students who are international with the right type of visa following a visa interview. The U.S. government approved the school to do this.

Type and Length of Program

The second criteria is that the school must be some type of language program including English or academic course of study. Students have to take on some type of educational path here. The F visa does not apply for those who are enrolling in vocational studies.

The third component is that they typically need to be in a student and exchange visitor program that is long enough. These programs require students to be in a course that requires at least 18 hours of study each week. They want to ensure the student is enrolled most of the time in the program.

The next requirement is that visa holders must be already enrolled in higher education academic program. Language programs qualify for this as well. Remember, students may need to apply to the school and gain admission first. The visa is usually not approved unless a student submits the application with admission to the school. Many schools may make this the hardest part. Students typically have to meet all application requirements. They may also have to demonstrate to the school they have the financial means to pay for their school costs. Schools are usually very selective on who they accept. That is why many international students should start here.

Your Location

Another key piece of requirement is typically where the student lives. These student visas generally require you to provide proof that they have a home located outside of the U.S.A. They may also state that they have no plans to leave that home permanently. This requirement is meant to ensure the student has a place to go after schooling ends. This does not mean the student has to own a home. Rather, it means the student must have a place to live.

The F1 student visa typically also requires students to state that they plan to return to their home after they complete their education. As noted, the U.S. government wants to make sure the student does not plan to remain in the U.S. after completing their education. They may also want to ensure the student plans to go back to their home country after completing their education.

Financial Status

Another component is typically financial support. The F1 student visa in USA requires students to show they have the funds necessary to obtain their education. This may include money to pay for the cost of their education. It may include funds to cover all costs associated with living there. This may include housing costs as well. The government simply wants to ensure the student has the means to cover his or her costs.

Criminal and Health History

In addition to this, the visa typically requires students to have a clean criminal history. Reports may generally run on all international students. They must show they have no outstanding concerns within the U.S. or in their country. The F1 Visa may also requires students to be in good health. The goal here is to ensure the student may complete his or her education without risk of becoming ill or possibly contracting coronavirus.

In all of these cases, the visa application usually requires evidence when possible. Students must also sign that these statements are accurate. If this information is inaccurate, the student may be forced to leave the country as a result. That is why it is so important to have all of this information up to date and clearly outlined before applying.

How Many Years is the F1 Student Visa Valid For?

Most of the time, students may remain in the U.S. with an F1 visa as long as they maintain their student status. The student has to be enrolled full time in the school. Most often, a student visa holder may enroll in a bachelor’s degree course. The student may expect to remain for four years. However, there may be a reason for the student to remain longer. This may be due to the program taking longer to complete. It may also be because the student plans to keep going with their education during their period of stay.

After the issuance of the F1 visa, students are likely to renew it. Do not let it expire. Instead, be sure to reach out for renewal sooner. Most of the time students may be able to do this as long as they have not dropped out of school. This varies case by case, though.

Once students complete their education, they typically have 60 days to leave the U.S. If they enroll in additional studies at this point, the student may then be able to apply for a renewal of their F1 visa. Students who wish to remain may have to speak to their consulate. They may also need to complete new forms for application. Do not wait to allow this time to run out because the student visa may require the student to leave.

Could You Work in the USA with a Student Visa?

Students who have an F1 or an M1 student visa may work in the U.S. You could work on campus of the school they are attending. Some types of training programs may allow you to work with an F1 or M1 visa. However, you may not be able to work off campus. That means they may not work at jobs in the town near the campus. This is generally a restriction during just the first year. Most of the time, schools recognize this. That is why they offer on campus employment options for many students or optional practical training. This may be in the gym, cafeteria, or library, for example.

It is not uncommon for students to want to work while they are in the United States. This may help to cover costs. It may also be a requirement for some students who may need the additional funds to cover the costs of education. The good news is that many students are typically able to work while they have a student visa in USA. There may be a few restrictions and limitations to this, though.

After the first year, students may often work off campus. It is important to choose programs designed for students in their associated field. Some programs are typically available for international student specifically. It may be important to let the consulate and U.S. Embassy know of your actions.

Save time. Let us search for you.

Narrow down over 1,000,000 scholarships with personalized results.

Get matched to scholarships that are perfect for you!