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1) F visa - This type of visa is for international students who are intending to pursue an academic degree at an accredited US college or university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute. There are three types of F visa:
- F-1 visas for full-time students;
- F-2 visas for dependents of F-1 visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21, including same-sex married couples);
- F-3 visas for ‘border commuters’ – Mexican and Canadian students who reside in their country of origin while attending part- or full-time school in the US.
2) M visa – This type of visa is for international students who want to engage in non-academic or vocational study or training at an institution in the US. There are three types of M visa:
- M-1 visas for students engaging in vocational or non-academic studies;
- M-2 visas for dependents of M-1 visa holders;
- M-3 visas for ‘border commuters’ as in F-3 visas, but for vocational or non-academic studies.
3) J visa – This type of visa is for international exchange visitors participating in programs in the US that promote cultural exchange. All applicants must meet the eligibility criteria of the program in question and be sponsored by a private sector or government program. Holders of J visas usually stay in the US for a short period of time, perhaps one or two semesters. J-1 visa holders will need to return to their home country for at least two years at the end of their exchange visitor program. There are two types of J visa:
- J-1 visas for exchange students on a relevant exchange program;
- J-2 visas for dependents of J-1 visa holders.
F visa; M visa; J visa
You must pay the SEVIS fee (US $200), which supports the cost of the computer system used to record your stay in the US. Go to https://fmjfee.com/index.html to pay the fee and make sure you print a copy of your receipt and bring it to the visa interview. You must pay the SEVIS fee at least three days before the date of your visa interview.
You will also need to pay an additional US$160 for the visa application fee in your country at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate or at a bank that the Embassy designates.
All international students coming to study in the US need to apply for an F Visa, J Visa or M Visa.
Each U.S. Embassy has a website providing instructions on how to make an appointment for a visa interview and other information on the visa application process.
- First, your school or university will send you a form confirming that you have been accepted at an institution authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) to enroll non-immigrant students
- Second, you will need to make an appointment for a visa interview and to pay some required fees.
- Third, the United States is using a new non-immigrant visa application form, DS-160 that should be completed online. This form replaces all of the other forms.
- Fourth, prepare for your visa interview. It is crucial that you apply for your visa well in advance, as this will give you extra time if there are delays at the embassy, or if you wish to appeal a decision in the event of a denial. What you wear is important, and business attire is appropriate.
The documents needed for your visa interview may include:
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US. You may also need to bring all your current and old passports.
- Signed SEVIS Form I-20 or DS-2019 (including individual forms for spouse/children)
- Form DS-7002 (for J-1 Trainee and Intern visa applicants only)
- SEVIS fee receipt
- DS-160 application confirmation page with barcode and application ID number
- MRV fee payment confirmation receipt
- Printed copy of visa interview appointment letter
- 1-2 photographs in the format explained in the photograph requirements.
You should also be prepared to provide the following documents:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Financial evidence showing you or your sponsor (i.e. parents or a government sponsor) has sufficient funds to cover your tuition, travel, and living expenses during your stay in the US.
You can also bring along a separate written list of all your previous employers and schools you have attended for reference.
Applying for a US student visa can be a long process, so make sure you start preparing well in advance – at least three to five months before your course is due to start. Student Visas can be issued up to 120 days before the date on your form I-20. Exchange Visitor Visas can be issued anytime before the date on the DS-2019.
The F1 and J1 visas allow for the possibility of employment in the US during your stay, while the M1 Visa does not. Students with F-1 visas can work on-campus for 20 hours a week or less. Students wishing to work longer hours and off-campus must gain prior authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). J-2 visa holders may request work authorization from USCIS. F-2 and M-visa holders are not allowed to work and must secure an appropriate work visa if seeking employment.
The most common reason for a student or exchange visitor application to be denied is that the person applying for the visa has not proven to the Visa Officer that they will return to their country when they complete their studies in the U.S.A. If you are denied a visa there may be something you can do to reverse the denial, and you may appeal the decision. In most cases, you will need to provide additional documentation that was not presented with the initial application.
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Vermont Law and Graduate School
- Ohio University Online
- Boston University - College of Communication
- John Carroll University, Boler College of Business
- Carnegie Mellon University Department of Modern Languages
- Canisius College
- Schoolcraft College
- University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School
- Lewis-Clark State College
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