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Visa Requirements for International Students

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You will be able to apply for a visa after you have been admitted to a college or university and accepted the offer of admission.

The college or university will want to see proof that you have sufficient funds to pay for your education, including the cost of traveling to and from the college (including the return flight) and living expenses, not just the tuition and fees. Medical insurance is required for the duration of the education program and dental insurance is highly recommended, but not required.

Most colleges and universities require the student to demonstrate sufficient funds for the entire duration of the course of study, even though the requirements for an F-1 visa are just for the first year. The financial documentation must include a certified bank letter in addition to the affidavit of support and student/sponsor certifications.

The college then will provide the student with Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status). This form will be submitted with the printed confirmation page from the online DS-160 application for a visa. A valid passport, a photograph and the visa processing fee are also required.

Note that the visa application fee is in addition to the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. The student’s passport must be valid for the entire period of stay plus 6 months. The photograph should be 2 inches long and wide (51 mm x 51 mm) showing your full face against a light background. You will have to schedule an appointment at the U.S. embassy or consulate for an interview, after which the visa may be issued.

There are three types of student visas: F-1 (Student Visa), J-1 (Exchange Visitor Visa), and M-1 (Vocational Student Visa). The F-1 visa is the most commonly used for bachelor’s and graduate degree programs. The M-1 visa is used for trade and vocational schools and is limited to a year in total duration. The student must maintain full-time enrollment while in the U.S.

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