Do you would want to enter the United States of America as a student? Then you must first obtain a visa. You can get a non immigrant visa if you want to stay in the US temporarily or an immigrant visa if you want to remain in the US permanently. Whichever be the case, you MUST have a Student visa to Study in the US. Generally, the course you plan to study and the type of school you wish to attend will determine the class of visa you will require, whether the F-1 visa or an M-1 visa.
Let me explain more:
If you plan to attend high school, university, seminary, conservatory, private elementary school or any other academic institution (this includes a language training program) you must apply for the F-1 visa.
If you plan to study a trade, skill or vocation for specific roles or careers in a non-academic institution, you should apply for an M-1 visa.
Note: If your country participates in the visa waiver program you cannot enter the US as a student or get a visitor visa where your sole purpose is to study. Unless you are undertaking a recreational study as part of your tourist visit. Otherwise, you must apply for one of the above listed student visas.
In other words, you will be allowed to enter the US with a visitor’s visa to study a short recreational course which is not towards earning a degree or academic certificate. Invariably, you will not be allowed to study any course that will confer a degree or certificate, even if it is for a short period of time. You must apply for a student visaRequirements for Applying for a Student Visa
Before going to apply for a F-1 or M-1 visa, you must be accepted by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of an approved school. SEVP is a program that is headed by the Department of Homeland Security in the US. This program ensures that all government agencies in the US have vital information about non immigrant students and exchange visitors to preserve national security. So you must pick an institution that is SEVP-certified. Check the list of SEVP-certified schools here. Apply to only schools that have been certified.
When you have been accepted by a U.S. school you plan to attend, the school will enroll you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. You will be required to pay a SEVIS I-901 Fee. The school will also provide you with a Form I-20 that you are to present at the embassy or consular when you attend your interview. If you have a relative, spouse or kids who will be staying with you in the US while you study, they must obtain an individual Form I-20s, but they are not required to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
How to Apply – Complete the Online Visa Application
Fill out the online visa application form (DS 160). While filling out the DS 160 form make sure that you indicate the type of visa class you need (F-1 or M-1 visa). After completing the online visa application, print out the confirmation page and bring it to your interview at the embassy or consulate. Make sure your photo is in the format explained in the photograph requirements.
Pay Your Visa Fees
Application fee for student visa (F-1 or M-1 visa) is $160. This fee is non-refundable. For some countries, you will be required to pay the visa fees before you attend your interview while for some others, you will pay after your interview. If your visa is approved, you may have to pay a visa insurance fee if it is applicable to your country.
Schedule your Visa Interview
You can schedule your visa interview at any U.S consulate or Embassy in the country you reside in. To schedule your interview go to their official website. You will be required to fill in your personal details, your dependents (if any), your visa fees receipt code (if applicable) and your preferred interview date and time.
Note: it is much easier to qualify for a visa in the country of your permanent residence than qualifying for a student visa if you are currently residing in a country where you are not a citizen.
Generally, you are not required to attend an interview if you are 13 years of age or younger. The same applies to people who are 80 and older. But it is a MUST do for people who are of age 14-79. However, consular officers can decide to require an interview of any person regardless of their age.
Gather Your Required Documents
- International Passport: your international passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the anticipated period of stay in the US. If you have more than one person included in your passport, then each person who will be traveling with you will need a visa hence will submit a separate application.
- DS-160 Confirmation Page: This is a document that confirms the submission of your visa application. It includes your personal details, purpose of travel and confirmation number.
- Your Photo – in the course of filling out your DS 160 form, you will be required to upload your photo. However, if the photo fails to upload, then you must bring one photo while coming for your visa interview.
- Visa Application fee payment receipt (that’s if you are required to pay before your interview)
- Once your desired school has entered your information in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) database, they will send you a generated SEVIS Form I-20 that has been duly signed by a school official. You are to sign as well and keep the document for your interview.
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) for Academic and Language Students
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) for Vocational Students.
- Do not forget that if your spouse and minor children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must be registered in the SEVIS. And each person receives a separate Form I-20.
- Your academic documents, such as: Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, other certificates from schools you attended; and, any standardized test scores if required by your U.S. school
- Your intention to depart the United States after you have completed the course of study
- Bank statements, pay slips and other proofs to show how you will pay for your education, living and travel costs.
Attend Your Visa Interview
When you attend your interview, a consular officer will try to make up his or her mind whether you are qualified to get the visa. If so, the consular officer will determine if the visa category you requested for is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. If you pass, you will be issued a visa, if not, you can try again at a later date.