All the following institutions and programs require a student visa for foreigners who wish to enter the United States to study at:

  • An approved program of English or any other language, of more than 19 hours per week.
  • University, college or Community College for studies of Associate Degrees, bachelor's degree, masters or Ph.D.
  • Private or public high schools.
  • Seminar

There are some cases in which you need to apply for a different visa that the F-1

M-1 Visa, for studies in vocational schools and non-academic institutions.

  1. J-1 exchange visa, specifically, for two programs: the Secondary School Student Program, for high school students between 15 and 18 and a half years of age, and the College and University Student Program, where the majority of the funds come from sources other than the student or his family, such as the US government, the student´s country, or international organizations.

What steps do I need to follow?

To obtain an F-1 visa, you must have previously been admitted in an institution and you also need to fill out form I-20 to study at a university or school authorized by the United States government. Only certain institutions are authorized to admit international students with a visa. Whether it is an academy that teaches English or a university, the institution will request a series of documents. There is one thing every institution will request: proof of financial resources, in the form of personal funds, scholarships, etc.

Something that surprises foreign students is how complex the admission process to US universities is. It´s essential that you understand the process, also what documents are going to be requested in order to plan ahead. You need to go through an English as a second language test. Every university has their minimum required score for TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, the required test. In many cases, one of the major problems to study in the United States lies in the high cost of tuition. In some cases, it will be possible to get financial help in the applicant's country. In others, it will be necessary to resort to personal or family savings and to scholarships and loans.

It´s fundamental to understand that a large part of the economic aid in the form of scholarships comes from the universities themselves. Obviously, for international students, private ones are much more generous than public ones.

There are even 13 elite universities that provide scholarships because they follow specific admission process, which guarantees full, or almost full scholarships for all admitted students. But you must apply for financial aid at the time of application, not later.

In addition, for people who do not know the US university system, it is recommended that they become familiar with Community Colleges, which are cheaper than universities or colleges and offer other advantages, such as beginning to study with a regular level of English.

Form I-20

If the student is admitted then he or she will receive a document that is known as I-20, from the school or university. It´s essential to apply for the visa, once it´s granted and the person enters the United States then the person must prove that the international student status is maintained.

International students with an F-1 visa can travel to the United States with some of their relatives, who need an F-2 visa.

Relatives that can request an F-2

The student's husband or wife; this benefit is for both heterosexual and homosexual marriages.

Children under 21 who are single; in this case, it is advisable to become familiar with the education system.

Visas can be requested jointly when the student requests the F-1 or when the student is already studying.

In any case, you must obtain the I-20 for each family member in advance. For the visa, you will have to present proof of the relationship, such as the marriage certificate.

The F-2 allows an individual to live in the United States and study, but not to work. Also, keep in mind that there are no derivative visas for parents or moms of students.

The day of the interview in the consulate you must get there on the exact time, not before or after. Do not carry instruments that can be used as a weapon and it´s better not to bring any smartphones, video cameras, etc.

You need the following documentation:

  • If you have a scholarship you need all the documents.
  • A hard copy of the appointment.
  • DS-160 confirmation sheet (the form that was filled out to request the interview for the visa).
  • I-20.
  • Payment receipt of the visa fee
  • Payment receipt of the SEVIS fee (monitoring system for international and foreign students participating in exchange programs).
  • Check the consulate website for photo requirements for this type of visa. There is no common standardized procedure for all consular offices.
  • Current passport, valid for at least six months longer than the time you are authorized to stay in the US.
  • All previous passports, if any.
  • Original academic documents, such as school transcripts, public exams, diplomas.
  • Results of standardized tests, such as TOEFL.
  • Original bank statements of bank accounts, savings or checking account records
  • If someone else is paying for the studies, present proof of their economic capacity and relationship with the student. For example, if it´s the father, a birth certificate must be presented proving that they are father and son. You also need to attach original bank statements, certificates of deposits, etc.
  • Other documents that prove the economic solvency of the student or the sponsor.
  • Proof that the student has an important family, social and economic ties in their country of origin, in such a way that it is reasonably assumed that when he or she finishes the program he or she will return to their country of residence.

The latter is really the most important thing. The student visa is a nonimmigrant visa and it will not be approved if there is any doubt that the student cannot remain in the United States without being a public charge, or that the individual will stay for more time than allowed in the country.

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