• published on 3/1/2023
  • 4min

Getting a visa to study in the United States

Are you looking to study at one of the world’s top universities, earn a prestigious degree, or experience on-campus living? There are many reasons to study in the United States. The amount of international students enrolled in a US institution keeps increasing: the number of international students in the US has in fact exceeded 1 million for the 2019-2020 year—a record number—and is now picking up momentum since the relaxation of health measures. To get a student visa, you must follow specific application procedures. Learn how to get a visa to study in the US.

Getting a visa to study in the United States

Studying in the USA: 2 visa categories

The type of visa you need depends on the type of studies or training you are pursuing. Student visas usually are valid for the duration of the study programme. Good to know: only institutions approved by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) are open to student visas.

For academic students: the F-1 visa

The F-1 visa is designed for people wishing to enrol in a certified school or college, or in a language training programme. Visa applicants must prove they have sufficient funds to cover the enrolment fees and all expenses during the first 12 months of their stay in the US. F-1 visa holders may work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week. In the first year, F-1 visa holders are only allowed to work on campus on the condition that they do not exceed 20 hours per week while attending classes.

For vocational students: the M-1 visa

Students aiming to enrol in vocational or non-academic programmes must request an M-1 visa. Applicants should be able to prove they have sufficient funds to cover all living costs during the entire duration of the stay in the United States, and not only for the first year! M-1 visa holders cannot work, except during an internship.

Get your student visa!

After having spent many days selecting a study programme, preparing your application for admission, and looking for an adequate student insurance solution, you just found out you have been accepted… Congratulations! But be patient: there are still some more steps to take to get your visa for the USA.

1. Enrol in a programme and get the I-20 form.

Upon enrolment, the host institution in the United States will provide you with the I-20 form.

2. Complete the online form I-901 and pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) registration fee.

Go to the following website: www.fmjfee.com. The SEVIS fee is $350. Remember to print out the payment receipt.

3. Complete the DS-160 form.

This online form is the nonimmigrant visa application form. You will need to upload a picture and keep the application confirmation.

4. Pay the visa fee.

The visa fee is $160. Depending on your nationality, you might also have to pay an additional visa issuance fee.

5. Go to the US embassy or consulate to attend an interview.

You need to come to the interview with a number of required documents:

  • a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended length of the stay,

  • the DS-160 form application confirmation,

  • an ID photo,

  • the original I-20 form,

  • the SEVIS fee payment receipt,

  • proof of sufficient funds.

You might have to provide additional documents, such as diplomas or English language test scores.

Did you get your F-1 or M-1 visa? You can now get ready for your stay abroad.

Eager to get started? You can enter the United States 30 days before your study programme begins.

To find out more about visas to study in the US

Get all the information you need about visas on the US Department of State website.

To find a certified institution, check out Study in the States.