Types of US student visas explained

Types of US student visas explained


If you are an international student planning to study in the United States, you will have to apply for student visa after obtaining admission to a college or university in the US. Studying either a full degree or a short period of education, you will need to apply for a US student visa.

Here is the guide to the types of non-immigrant student visas for studying in the US.

F-1 Student Visa

F-1 visa is the most common visa which is given to any international students attending a college or university in the US. It is also available for students who will attend high schools, a non-vocational or seminary or specialised institution. Whether you wish to pursue a undergraduate degree or a Ph.D., you can receive a F-1 student visa.

Applying for F-1 student visa

Apply for an F-1 student visa as soon as you plan to study in the US

The time taken for the application review process depends on:

  • The type of visa for which you are applying.
  • Whether or not your application will be subject to additional security clearance.
  • It is your responsibility to organise your transcript and diplomas, relevant test scores, and paperwork that shows your finances in order to study abroad.

The following is the list of documents you must submit to your embassy or consulate:

  • The Form I-20.
  • The Online Non-immigrant visa application form (DS-160), which is used to process you application and is required for your interview.
  • A 5.08cm x 5.08cm colour photo of you, which is less than 6 months old.
  • A receipt from your I-901 fee.

M Visa

The M visa is a category of student visa for international students who want to seek admission in non-academic or vocational study or training at an US institution.

There are 3 types of M visa:

  • M-1 visas for students engaging in vocational or non-academic studies.
  • M-2 visas for dependents of M-1 visa holders
  • M-3 visas for ‘border commuters' as in F-3 visas, but for vocational or non-academic studies.

M-1 Student Visa

  • The students who are given the M-1 visa are admitted to the US for a fixed time period.
  • This time period includes their training programme and any optional practical training.
  • The M-1 visa holders are not allowed to work on or off campus during the period of their stay in the US.

J Visa

J visa is for international exchange visitors who participate in programmes in the US that promote cultural exchange. All applicants must meet the eligibility criteria of the programme and must be sponsored by a private sector or government programme, whether it is to obtain medical, business or other training.

There are 2 types of J visa:

  • J-1 visas for exchange students on a relevant exchange program.
  • J-2 visas for dependents of J-1 visa holders.

J-1 Student Visa

  • J-1 visa holders will be allowed a two-year stay in the US if they are part of a government-funded programme.
  • This requirement means J-1 visa holders will need to return to their home country for atleast two years at the end of their exchange visitor programme.

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