• All you need to know about U.S. Student visas.

    The US Government offers an incentive for foreign students to study in the country, but as a requirement, you would first need to obtain a student visa. The type of visa you need will depend on the type of study you want to study in the country.

    The U.S. government provides three different forms of student visas:

    • F-1 Student Visa: Used to teach at an accredited U.S. college or university, or to learn English at an English language school.
    • J Exchange Visa: for participation in an exchange program, including high school and university studies;
    • M Student Visa: for non-academic or technical education or training in the United States.

    You must apply first and be approved by a U.S. school or university that is accredited by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once accepted, you must request a Form I-20 from the Foreign Student Office of the University, which is a paper record of your experience in a database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).


    For your visa application, you will need the following documentation:

    • A valid passport valid for at least six months after your stay in the U.S. (except in the case of country-specific agreements)
    • Acceptance at a school accredited by SEVP and the Form I-20
    • Payment proof of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS Fee)
    • A non-immigrant visa application form and the form DS-160 confirmation page
    • One or two photographs in the requested format

    Additional documentation can also be needed as follows:

    • Academic qualification records such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees and certificates
    • Proof that you have sufficient funds to pay your living costs for the duration of your stay in the U.S. It may include:
      • Bank Statement
      • Fixed Deposit (FDR) with Block Receipt
      • Assets (Land, Building, Flat, Car, Bond etc)
      • The sponsor’s financial undertaking to cover the accommodation and living expenses
      • Sponsor Tax Return File of Last 2-3 Years
      • A scholarship program
      • Proof that you’re leaving the U.S. after you’ve done your studies. It can be in the form of an air ticket to your home country from the U.S.
      • You will also need to appear at the U.S. embassy or consulate for a personal interview

    F-1 Student Visa

    Most students wanting to pursue their studies abroad opt for the F-1 Student Visa. There are three important steps to this, namely:

    SEVIS Fee and I-20 Form Collection: Once you pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) charge, you will receive an I-20 form from the school or college you have applied to. You need to submit a properly completed I-20 form during your F-1 interview.

    VISA Fee and Form Collection: Next, you must pay the visa fee to the specified bank and collect the visa form. You need to fill out this form correctly and take it with you during your interview.

    VISA Interview: You can arrange a U.S. embassy visa interview in your region. The waiting time can vary based on the type of visa. Upon successful completion of the interview, you will obtain a visa 120 days in advance. You can move to the U.S. just 30 days before the start date of your program.

    When you arrive in the United States, you have to:

    • Do not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program begins.
    • When you first reach the U.S., contact your designated institute official.
    • Contact your designated school official again, no later than the start date of the program shown on your Form I-20.

    Make sure your visa remains valid

    Once you’ve had your visa, there are a range of things you need to do and be sure it’s all legitimate, including:

    • Fulfillment of the reason for which a visa was issued by the State Department
    • Following the regulations relating to that reason

    You will need to obey the following rules when living in the U.S.:

    • You have to take and complete all of the exams. If you find your studies too difficult, you can talk to your designated school official (DSO) immediately.
    • If you consider like you will not be able to finish the course by the end date specified on your Form I-20, you must contact your DSO to request a potential extension of the course.
    • You have to take a complete course of study for each term. When you are unable to study full-time, notify the DSO immediately.
    • You cannot drop below the full course of study without consulting with your DSO.

    You may find out more information about each type of U.S. visa. on the U.S. Government’s official website. Schedule a free meeting with your GES consultant to explain the procedure in depth.