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 non-immigrant visas.
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
1) Get your passport made. Follow
this link for detailed information regarding how to
obtain your passport.
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, etc.
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
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 the visa
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.
A passport valid for travel to the United States
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
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.