The U.S.A. issues different types of
visas to temporary visitors, including
students. As a full-time student, you
would receive an F-1 or M-1 visa. Most
students fall under the F1 category.
The temporary visas are also known as
The spouse and children would receive
F-2 or M-2 visas.
The "F" visa is for academic
studies, and the "M" visa
is for nonacademic or vocational studies.
1) Get your passport
made. Follow this link for detailed
information regarding how to obtain
2) Once an academic
institute has accepted you for admission
to full-time study, they will send you
a document known as the I-20 form, which
is extremely necessary for the application
for a student visa. This form I-20 contains
information about how much financial
responsibility you will need, what is
going to be the duration of your studies,
3) You may need to
show the proof of financial support
if you or your parents are going to
fund your studies in USA. A bank letter
may be necessary. You might want to
find out from your embassy about the
types of documents they may accept regarding
the proof of financial support.
Get an "Affidavit of Support"
form from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
if the studies are going to be sponsored
by your relatives or others who are
currently in USA. Complete this form
with information about your sources
of financing (letter of sposorship),
and submit it along with your other
documents. The embassy may require a
letter from the bank that holds the
4) Obtain all the
necessary documents mentioned on this
page. Now, you are ready to go to the
U.S. Consulate for a visa interview.
If your visa is rejected twice, you
may need to apply by mail.
Documents required for obtaining
A nonrefundable application fee
(You should find out the exact amount
before going to the consulate and carry
exact change if possible).
An application Form OF-156, completed
and signed. Blank forms are available
without charge at all U.S. consular offices.
A passport valid for travel to the United
One photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square
(37x37mm) for each applicant, showing
full face, without head covering, against
a light background; and
For the "F" applicant, a Form
I-20A-B. For the "M" applicant,
a Form I-20M-N.
[These forms are sent by the institutions
where you have applied and upon acceptance
they send you these forms.]
Student visa applicants must establish
to the satisfaction of the consular officer
that they have binding ties to a residence
in a foreign country which they have no
intention of abandoning, and that they
will depart the United States when they
have completed their studies.
Maintaing Visa Status After Arrival
If a student on a F-1 visa is
not able to complete their studies by
the expiration date on the I-20 form,
they must apply to the school's Foreign
Student Advisor for an extension 30 days
before expiration. Extensions are normally
granted for academic and medical reasons
so long as there have been no violations
of visa status.
It is possible to transfer schools
after arrival on an F-1 visa. You will
need to notify your current school of
the transfer and obtain an I-20 form
from the new school. You will complete
the student certification section of
the I-20 and must deliver it to the
foreign student advisor at the new school
within 15 days of beginning attendance
at the new school.
If you are changing majors
at your current school, you do not need
to notify the INS. If you are changing
degree programs (e.g., from a bachelors
degree to a masters degree program),
however, you will need to get a new
I-20 and submit it to the foreign student
advisor within 15 days of beginning
the new program.