Obtaining a Student Visa in the United States

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Students in different countries often wish to go to a foreign land in order to study at a different institution for higher learning. In order for a student to enter the United States legally, they must obtain a student visa. A student visa allows an individual to receive that higher learning within the country. Like any other visa, anyone seeking a student visa must go through a specialized process in order to be approved.

Types of Student Visas

There are different visas options for students. These vary depending on the school a student wishes to attend as well as what they plan to study. Visas that are available to students include:

  • F Visa: For students who plan to attend a university, college, high school, seminary, conservatory, or private elementary school
  • M Visa: For students who plan to attend a vocational or nonacademic institution

Am I Eligible for a Student Visa?

The first step in becoming eligible for a student visa is to apply and be accepted into a school that is already approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Once they are accepted, they may apply for either an F or M visa through the completion of an “I-20” form. A student’s application for a visa will go through an embassy or consulate in order to be approved. The application may also be done online. After it is submitted, the student must schedule an interview.

Preparing for the Interview

There are different requirements to qualify for an interview. Whether or not a person will be interviewed can depend on their age. Usually, applicants under the age of 13 or over the age of 80 are not interviewed. A consular officer will make this decision based on their own discretion. If an applicant is interviewed, they are required to supply certain documents:

  • A passport (must be valid for at least 6 months after the period of stay is over)
  • A nonimmigrant visa application (Form DS-160)
  • An application fee receipt
  • A photo
  • The certificate of eligibility for an F or M visa
  • Form I-20

To prepare for the interview, an applicant may also be asked to provide the consular office with academic documents. This may include transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates. They may also be required to show any standardized test scores required by the school the applicant plans to attend.

The Interview

During the interview, the consular officer will judge whether or not they believe the applicant should be issued a visa. They will also determine which type of visa would work best for them, should they be approved. This requires the applicant to meet the requirements for a student visa. They may be required to acknowledge how they plan to pay for all expenses involved (travel, schooling, housing, etc.) as well as their intent to leave the country once school is over and their visa expires. A fingerprint scan may also be taken during the interview. If the applicant is approved, they must pay the required fees and wait for the visa to arrive.

Contact our Firm

If you are looking to apply for a student visa and wish to speak with an experienced attorney, contact the Law Office of Cheryl R. David today.

The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David practices immigration law throughout NYC. If you have questions about your particular matters regarding immigration please contact the office to discuss your circumstances and options.