The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to study. Before applying for a visa, all student visa applicants are required to be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a student visa. Students can apply within 120 days from the start date of I-20 and can travel within 30 days from the start date of I-20.
Visa Descriptions and Qualifications
This is the most common type of student visa. If you wish to engage in academic studies in the United States at an approved school, such as an accredited U.S. college or university, private secondary school, or approved English language program then you need an F-1 visa. You will also need an F-1 visa if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week.
If you plan engage in non-academic or vocational study or training at a U.S. institution then you need an M-1 visa.
U.S. Public Schools
U.S. Public School
U.S. law does not permit foreign students to attend public elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade) or a publicly funded adult education program. Hence, F-1 visas cannot be issued for study at such schools.
An F-1 visa can be issued for attendance at a public secondary school (grades 9 to 12), but the student is limited to a maximum of 12 months at the school. The school must also indicate on the Form I-20 that the student has paid the unsubsidized cost of the education and the amount submitted by the student for that purpose.
For more information about F-1 legal requirements, visit the Department of State website.
Note: Holders of A, E, F-2, G, H-4, J-2, L-2, M-2 or other derivative nonimmigrant visas may enroll in public elementary and secondary schools.
EducationUSA – Finding a U.S. Higher Education Institution
EducationUSA is the Department of State’s official advising network providing accurate, comprehensive, and current information on higher education. In India, three EducationUSA partners administer seven centers in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai employing more than 30 student advisors. We encourage all students considering higher education in the United States to check out EducationUSA online followed by engagement with one of the centers. Bhutanese students are welcome to connect with either Delhi or Kolkata. For more information about the U.S. Embassy’s higher education activities visit them online at: https://in.usembassy.gov/education-culture/educationusa/
To apply for an F or M visa, you must pay your $160 application fee and submit the following:
In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular office
Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.
Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy or Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.
You should bring the following documents to your interview:
Academic documents that show scholastic preparation. Useful documents include school transcripts (original copies are preferred) with grades, public examination certificates (A-levels, etc.), standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.