How can I study in the United States?
The United States of America is one of the most popular destinations for international students. This is because the country has one of the greatest education systems globally.
To study in the United States, you must have an appropriate visa, and this also applies to nationals from eligible countries for the Visa Waiver Program. There are three types of study visas in the United States. They are F1 visa, M1 visa, and J1 visa. The appropriate visa for each applicant will depend on certain factors, including their school and course choice.
An F1 visa for academic studies and an M1 visa for vocational studies are the two main student visas. The J1 visa is another type of student visa, which can be obtained by students participating in exchange visitor programs.
Each of these three types of student visas has been broken down for you to familiarize yourself with them and how they will impact your life in the United States.
It is necessary to note that U.S. student visas grant you nonimmigrant status. This means you will be allowed to enter the United States temporarily and cannot leverage the stat to obtain permanent residency.
F1 Visa: Academic Studies
The F1 student visa is the most popular nonimmigrant student visa that allows international students to enter the United States and study at SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) certified institutions. F1 visas are available to qualified researchers or students who wish to conduct research or study at a university, high school, accredited English school, private elementary school, college, or other academic institution in the United States.
F1 visas are only issued at U.S. embassies and consulates outside of the United States, although extensions of stay and status changes may occur in the United States.
To qualify for an F1 visa, you must have secured admission to a recognized college, school, or university as a full-time student. You must also prove that you have sufficient financial support while in the United States. An F1 student can stay in the United States as long as they are enrolled in a university, college, school, seminary, conservatory, or other academic institution.
To apply, you must first obtain the I-20 form from your prospective university or school, which must be a SEVP certified institution. You will also need to register for the Student Visitor Information and Exchange System (SEVIS) and pay the SEVIS fees.
You will then need to apply for a visa online by filling out the DS-160 form and book an appointment at your local U.S. embassy or consulate. You will need to bring the supporting documents for the visa interview, after which a consular officer will decide if you are eligible for the F1 visa.
J1 Visa: Academic Studies as an Exchange visitor
The J1 nonimmigrant exchange visitor visa is open to international students and many other categories of people. Other eligible applicants include professors, researchers, au pairs, camp counsellors, and interns who wish to participate in programs that promote cultural exchange.
To qualify for a J1 visa, the participant must have adequate health insurance and be fluent in English. All candidates must meet the qualification standards and be sponsored by an authorized institution or the government. They must have proof of funds to cover their expenses in the United States and be able to present plans to stay in the United States for a specified period, including a return to their country of origin.
Under the J1 student category, an international student can study a full-time course in a U.S. college or university. You may also be eligible for a student internship program.
To apply for a J1 visa, you must first be accepted into a visitor exchange program by a designated sponsoring organization. Subsequently, the application process is similar to that of other student visas. You will need to register with SEVIS, pay the SEVIS fee, complete the online visa application form and attend an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
M1 Visa: Non-Academic or Vocational Studies
An M1 visa is a nonimmigrant student visa issued to persons who wish to pursue a program at a recognized vocational school or a non-academic institution in the United States. Examples of available programs include cooking classes, mechanical classes, flight schools, and cosmetology.
To be eligible for an M1 visa, applicants must be accepted by an institution approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applicants must be fluent in English, have sufficient funding, have a permanent residence in their home country, and demonstrate intent to leave the United States upon completion of studies.
M1 students can stay in the United States for a specified period of stay – usually one year or until the date on their I-94 travel document.
The M1 visa application process is the same as the F1 visa. You will need to purchase an I-20 form from one of the SEVP certified schools offering a vocational course, register with SEVIS, apply for a visa online, and attend a visa interview.
Dependents of Foreign Students
Bringing your family members to join you in the United States is one great benefit that each U.S. student visa offers to international students. You will need to apply for one of the relevant student derivative visas below if you want your family members to accompany or join you in the U.S.
- F2 Visa: – for dependents of F1 visa holders
- J2 visa: for dependents of J1 visa holders
- M2 visa: for dependents of M1 visa holders
Eligible family members for these derivative visas are spouses and dependent children below 21 years old.
For your family members to apply for these visas, you must also obtain an I-20 form for each one of them. Then they will also need to apply online and schedule a visa interview.
How can IAS help international students?
If you are interested in studying in the United States, our team of experienced immigration lawyers is here to help. Applying for a student visa can be a complex process, from knowing which visa you choose to meet the strict eligibility requirements. Our lawyers can guide you through each of the stages involved in the student visa application process.
We can recommend the best type of visa for you and assess your eligibility based on your profile and background. Once you have decided which visa to apply for, our lawyers will help you complete the appropriate application forms and prepare supporting documents before the visa interview.
To learn more about our student visa application services, contact our team today via 0333 305 3612.
Last modified on February 14th, 2023 at 8:16 pm
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Yes, with an F1 visa, you can attend a public high school for up to a year. You must also pay the required tuition fees.
SIVES is a digital database that maintains the records of F1 holders and their family members. Academic institutions use this system to maintain necessary notifications and details of events during a student’s stay in the United States.
You may be eligible to switch from an F1 visa to an H1B visa or even get a green card. You will need to first secure an H1B specialty job offer and ensure the employer is able and willing to sponsor your H1B visa.
No, the F1 visa on its own only applies to one person. However, the spouse or children under the age of 21 can apply for an F2 visa. Spouses with an F2 visa cannot work, but children with an F2 visa can enroll in secondary or elementary education programs.