USA Study Visa: Types, Requirements, Process, and Cost

The demand for studying in the United States has risen in recent years. If a student has been accepted to the university of his choice, the next necessary step is to apply for a USA Study Visa in order to make their dream of studying in “the Land of the Free” a reality. 

There are three types of study visas to the US:

Types of USA Study Visa


F-1 Study Visa

The F-1 Study Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows overseas students to study in the United States at SEVP-approved institutions. Targeted for students who are enrolled full-time, F-1 visas allow students to work off-campus. They are permitted to work under special situations, such as student assistance or severe economic difficulties.


M-1 Study Visa

The M-1 Study Visa is granted to students who wish to participate in non-academic or vocational study or training at the school. An M-1 visa holder can apply for a variety of vocational training and technical programs and work without a work permit until the course is completed.


J-1 Study Visa

The J-1 Study Visa is designed for students who seek to work in the United States as part of various study-based exchange and visitor programs. J-1 exchange visitors come to the United States to learn, teach, and acquire skill training. It is tailored to those who require advanced training.


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What is the eligibility for a USA Study Visa?

Here are the major eligibility criteria you would need to meet, to apply for a USA Study Visa. 

  • Be over 18 years of age. 
  • Have a completed F-1/M-1/J-1 application form.
  • Required academic qualifications. 
  • Minimum language proficiency. 
  • Proof of sufficient funds.
NOTE: Each of the USA Study Visa types may have their own eligibility criteria besides the above-mentioned ones, which you would be mandated to meet to qualify.


What are the requirements for a USA Study Visa?

International students applying under any of the USA Study Visa type, would need to gather the following generic documents:

  • Passport - Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your departure from the US (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). 
  • Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt.
  • Photographs.
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20.

A immigration officer will conduct an interview with you to assess your eligibility for a student visa and may ask for further documents, such as proof of:

  • Your academic preparation, such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended and standardized test scores required by your U.S. school.
  • Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study.
  • Proof of Funds - How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.


What is the process to apply for a USA Study Visa?

The F-1, M-1, and J-1 visa application process is quite similar. The process outlined below can be used to obtain any of the three categories of US Study Visa.

Step 1: Apply And Get Accepted To A US School

The first step is to apply to a US university/college - and get accepted. In the United States, most full-time undergraduate and graduate programs require applications by December or January of each year. Admission notices are usually sent out in March and April.


STEP 2: Receive Form I-20 Or DS-2019 From Your School

Once admitted to a school, you'll receive one of three forms: Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20.


STEP 3: Pay The I-901 SEVIS Fee

Once you receive your I-20 or DS-2019 form from your school, go online and pay the mandated fees. Except for students from Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, or Nigeria, most students can pay this fee online using a credit card. The I-901 SEVIS fee is different from the visa application fee.


STEP 4: Find Your Nearest US Embassy Or Consulate

You must apply for an international student visa at the US embassy or consulate nearest to you. The US Department of State offers an online search for US embassies and consulates. Depending on which embassy you apply through, the process for obtaining a USA Study Visa may differ.


STEP 5: Complete Form DS-160 Online

Next, complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, also known as Form DS-160. You will be required to submit the mandated documents at this step. Select the US embassy at which you intend to interview for your visa and submit your application. 


STEP 6: Schedule Your Visa Interview

Contact your nearest US embassy or consulate and schedule your visa interview. Again, wait times for interviews vary depending on the embassy.


STEP 7: Pay Your Visa Application Fee

Pay the USA Study Visa application fees. This fee is the same regardless of where you apply or where you are from. Your embassy should provide you with instructions on when and how to pay your visa application fee.


STEP 8: Attend Your Visa Interview

The interview is the final major step in the visa application process. During the interview, you will be asked a variety of questions in English, which largely revolve around why you want to study at the school you've chosen and what you plan to do once the program is completed. If your interview goes well, your embassy will let you know when and how your passport (along with your new visa) will be issued to you.


STEP 9: Receive Your Visa

Your embassy will return your passport to you with your new visa in it if you've completed all of the steps above and received approval for an international student visa to the United States.
Apply for USA Study Visa


What is the cost of a USA Study Visa?

There are two costs associated with a USA Study Visa: SEVIS Fee and Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee).

SEVIS Fee
Visa TypeF1J1M1
Fee$350$220$350
Mode of PaymentCredit Card / Money Order / Demand Draft
Visa Application Fee / MRV Application Fee
Visa TypeF1J1M1
Fee$160$160$160
Mode of PaymentNEFT Online Transfer / Instant Money Transfer by Mobile - IMPS

What is the processing time of a USA Study Visa?

Processing times may vary if you have submitted an incomplete application or have a complex case. The current processing time for USA Study Visa is 3 days to a few weeks long. Waiting times for your visa interview vary wildly between countries.

Top 10 Universities in USA for International Students

Here are the top 10 universities in the USA that attract the highest numbers of international students.

  1. Illinois Institute of Technology - Chicago.
  2. Carnegie Mellon University - Pennsylvania
  3. Stevens Institute of Technology - New Jersey.
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Massachusetts.
  5. The New School - New York City.
  6. Northeastern University -  Massachusetts.
  7. Columbia University - New York City.
  8. Rice University - Texas.
  9. California Institute of Technology - California
  10. Georgia Institute of Technology - Georgia


What are the benefits of a USA Study Visa?

  • Come to the US to study full time in a program leading to a degree or certificate.
  • Transfer to a different school or switch academic programs.
  • Legally work part-time on-campus. You may even seek off-campus employment if it is economically necessary or if it involves practical training.
  • Travel within the US or abroad, or remain in the country until the completion of your studies.
  • Bring your spouse and children to the US.



Frequently Asked Question

  • How long is a USA Study Visa valid for?

    It's usually the same Duration of Status or D/S as on a student's I-94 card, which means you can stay in the United States as long as you're enrolled in school to complete your academic program. You will have 60 days to leave the United States when the program ends.

  • As long as you are accepted for admission at a school in the United States, there is no age limit for applying for a USA Study Visa.

  • US educational institutions require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 band. There are, however, certain universities that have lower language score requirements. 

  • Yes. If you want to keep studying, you must apply to extend your permit at least 30 days before it expires.

  • There is no limit on the number of times students can reapply, but it is critical that you learn from previous mistakes (if any) before reapplying.

STUDY VISA

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