USA Student Visa
The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to study. Before applying for a visa, all student visa applicants are required to be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a student visa. Students can apply within 120 days from the start date of I-20 and can travel within 30 days from the start date of I-20.
||6.0 or above
||80 or above
||6.5 or above
||90 or above
GRE, GMAT, & SAT:
||Normally Conducted for
||Graduate Management Admission Test
||Graduate Record Examinations
||Engineering students for graduate courses
||Scholastic Aptitude Test
||Engineering students for undergraduate courses
The College Admission Process
Before you can apply for a visa, you must know what college you'll be attending. So, much like students living in the United States, international students must research their college options, apply to several colleges, and be accepted to at least one of them. Unlike U.S. students, international students must also prove to the college of their choice that they can pay all college fees and living expenses while studying in the United States. Some financial and merit aid may be available to international students, depending on the college you choose, but you still must have a well-thought-out, documented financial plan for your years in the United States.
Once you've been accepted and the college is satisfied that you can support yourself, the college will send you an I-20 form. This form documents that you have been offered admission to the college and that the college is satisfied that you can afford to study there. It also gives you a "report date," or the date when you're expected to arrive at the college to begin classes.
Documents and More Documents
Once you receive your I-20 from the college, it's time to put together the other documents you'll need to apply for the visa. Students who plan on attending a four-year or two-year academic program should apply for the F-1 visa.
You need several main documents to apply for a visa:
- Form I-20, which you receive from the college.
- Form DS-156, which you can get from the U.S. State Department's web site, http://evisaforms.state.gov/, and Form DS-158 and Form DS-157 (for males only), which you can get from your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
- A passport that is valid for at least the next six months (preferably longer).
- A passport-sized photo of yourself.
- A receipt that shows payment of the visa processing fee. How you pay the fee differs in each country, so make sure to check with your local U.S. embassy or consulate for details. In some countries, you may not be able to pay the fee at the consulate.
Although these documents are the only official ones needed to apply, you also need to gather documentation to support certain aspects of your visa application.