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Applying for a student visa F1 or M1.

Scholastic preparation.

The student visa applicant must have successfully completed a course of study normally required for enrollment. The student, unless coming to participate exclusively in an English language training program, must either be sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study, or the school must have made special arrangements for English language courses or teach the course in the student's native language. No alien may be issued an F1 visa in order to attend a publicly-funded adult education program.

An applicant coming to the USA to study must be accepted for a full course of study by an educational institution approved by the USCIS. The institution must send to the applicant a Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant F1 Student Status for Academic and Language Students. The nonacademic or vocational institution must send to the student a Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant M1 Student Status For Vocational Students.

Financial resources for F1 visa applicants.

Applicants must prove that sufficient funds are or will be available from an identified and reliable financial source to defray all living and school expenses during the entire period of anticipated study in the USA. Specifically, applicants must prove they have enough readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study in the USA, and that adequate funds will be available for each subsequent year of study.

Financial resources for M1 visa applicants.

The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.

Visa ineligibility waiver.

The nonimmigrant visa application Form DS-156 lists classes of persons who are ineligible under the USA law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a student, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved.

Applying for a student visa F1 or M1.

Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.

Required Documentation.

Each applicant for a student visa must pay a non refundable application fee.
An application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent's passport.
A passport valid for travel to the USA and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the USA. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application;
One 2x2 photograph
For the F visa applicant, a Form I-20A-B. For the M visa applicant, a Form I-20M-N.
Evidence of sufficient funds.

Other documentation.

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 USA when they have completed their studies. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.

Additional information for F1 and M1 visa applicants.

An F 1 student may not accept off-campus employment at any time during the first year of study; however, the USCIS may grant permission to accept off-campus employment after one year. F 1 students may accept on-campus employment from the school without USCIS permission. Except for temporary employment for practical training, an M-1 student may not accept employment.

A spouse and unmarried, minor children may also be classified for a nonimmigrant visa to accompany or follow the student. Family members must meet all visa eligibility requirements, including evidence that they will have sufficient funds for their support, and that they will depart the USA when the student's program ends. Spouses and children of students may not accept employment at any time.

In most countries, first time student visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview. However, each embassy and consulate sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas. Students should consult Embassy web sites.

Changes introduced shortly after September 11, 2001 involve extensive and ongoing review of visa issuing practices as they relate to our national security. It is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your travel departure date.

Students are advised of the Department of Homeland Security regulation which requires that all initial or beginning students enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start/report date as shown on the Form I-20. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the USA.

All student visa applicants should be prepared to provide:

Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;

Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.

Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.

It is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

US Immigration