USA Student Visa: 10 Facts You Should Know

November 20, 2017

The visa system to study in the United States can be somewhat complicated. There are 3 different kinds of student visas, one of which you will be obtaining to pursue your studies.
In this article you will find 10 different facts that will help you understand the different student visas and gain more knowledge about the American immigration system.

1. There are 3 visa categories for those meeting the student qualification: F-1, J-1, and M-1.

2. Most international students looking to pursue an academic or English program will qualify for a F-1 visa. If you plan on entering the US to attend a university, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institution, you will apply to obtain an F-1 visa at an embassy in your home country.

3. Benefits of a F-1 visa: You can work while being a full-time student (up to 20 hours, on campus), and after completing your degree you can request a work permit to find a job related to your field of study.

4. Most exchange students and students with private or government funding apply for J-1 visas. This visa category is for students who are looking to have a study related job or research on their field while studying. Some J-1 categories include:

  • Au pair and EduCare
  • Short-term Scholar
  • Camp Counselor
  • Specialist
  • Government Visitor
  • Student, college/university
  • Intern
  • Student, secondary
  • International Visitor (Dept. of State use)
  • Summer Work Travel
  • Physician
  • Teacher
  • Professor and Research Scholar
  • Trainee


5. In order to apply for a J-1 visa, an organization or school must sponsor you (pay 50% or more of your personal and academic expenses).

6. Students who enroll in vocational or non-academic education in the United States apply for an M-1 student visa. Training courses such as cooking classes, flight school, cosmetology, and others require this visa. The M-1 visa is far less popular that F-1 and J-1 visas. Some of the disadvantages of the M-1 student visa are its short duration (one to three years), no work opportunities while studying, and no flexibility to transfer schools.

7. Only institutions that have been approved by the US government, through the Student Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP), can admit international students. It’s crucial that while you research universities, you verify that the school is experienced in hosting international students.

8. After you have met the admission requirements, the school will issue immigration form I-20 (form F-1 and M-1) visas or DS-2019 (J-1 visa). You use this form to request your student visa appointment.

9. The immigration form contains a SEVIS number, which will register you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is a web-based system for maintaining information on international nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in the United States. This number will be your “student code” with the US government.

10. Once you receive the admission package from the school, the first thing you need to do is pay the SEVIS or now known as the fmj fee. Make sure you do this before requesting the visa interview.

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