Nearly one million international students are currently taking advantage of the USA’s educational system. It’s no wonder that so many people are following the American learning dream, since the U.S. has several top rated schools and universities. It may not be easy to get there, but the efforts will most definitely pay off. After having a degree signed by a prestigious university, the job of your dreams is, almost always, just around the corner. If you are planning to study in the USA, you will need a visa and you should prepare yourself for a long process. While the application is not necessary difficult, the timeline can sometimes be discouraging. There are three different types of student visa, depending on the category of school and the courses you are going to take:
- An F-1 visa is required to enter the United States to attend a conservatory, a seminary, a private elementary school, a high school, a university, college, or any other academic institution, including a language training program.
- An M-1 visa is needed for vocational or any nonacademic institution (culinary schools, for example).
- A J-1 visa is issued for students who need practical training (not available in their home country) in order to complete their academic program.
So the first thing to do is to decide which type of visa you need to apply for. Once you get this box checked, you can move on to the next steps:
Choose a learning institution and get accepted. Each school and university has their own admission policies. You may have to take extra exams, write a paper or attend an interview. You will also need to prove that you are financially solid and that you can support yourself through school without having to work. A health insurance is required in most cases, as well. Once the institution has stated that you are academically eligible, they will release an I-20 form so you can apply for your student visa.
Prepare your documents. You must have a valid passport (with a validity date at least six month beyond your intended period of stay), photos and an online application form (Form DS-160) that you have to complete and submit. Males aged 16-45 will be asked to submit a supplemental application form (Form DS-157).
Pay a non-refundable application fee. In addition, you will also need to pay another fee in your country, at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
Prepare for the interview. An interview is required for applicants aged 14-79, which means that most of the students will need to attend it.
Have patience and wait. The process can take several months and it can be rather nerve-wracking. It is highly advisable to schedule the application process in advance, at least three months before your studies start. This will give you some extra time to appeal in case your application is denied.