Attending College in America

What visa do I need to attend an American college?

The United States has some of the greatest colleges and universities in the nation. The U.S. is considered the top country of choice by the largest number of international students. At present, at least one million international students are enrolled in U.S. institutions. There are several factors that international students wishing to come to the U.S. must consider when applying. Our international immigration law attorneys explore some relevant facts about visas, international college applications, work options associated with international students and more below.

Admissions Standards for International Students

International students usually find themselves subject to the same admissions standards as national students. To prepare to apply for college in the U.S., you will want to earn a high GPA from a good secondary school in your home country. You will likely need to complete U.S. based admissions tests, like the SAT or ACT. If English is not your first language, you will likely need to take the TOEFL exam. Contact the admissions department of the school you are interested in for more information.

Financing Your College Degree

International students may meet some challenges when attempting to secure financing for their degree. International students are not generally eligible to receive federal government based loans. You will likely wish to pursue loans and scholarships from your home country or a non-profit organization. Start preparing to finance your dream degree in advance so you will be ready when the time comes.

Applying for the Right Visa

There are four types of visas that allow foreign students or exchange students to attend a U.S. college. These include:

  • F-1 visa: The F-1 visa is intended for full-time students at an academic institution, which may include a college, university, or high school. F-1 visa recipients are further able to remain in the U.S. for up to 12 months for Optional Practical Training. You may also be able to adjust your status to stay in the U.S. on a more permanent basis.

  • M-1 visa: M-1 visas are made for full-time students at a vocational or nonacademic institution, such as flight school, language programs, technical studies and the like.

  • F-3 or M-3 visa: Nationals of Canada or Mexico may pursue an F-3 or M-3 visa if they come to the U.S. for full or part time study in either an academic or vocational institution.

  • J-1 visa: Students that participate in an educational or cultural exchange program can receive a J-1 visa. This visa is useful for visiting professors, trainees, short term teachers, visiting doctors, and the like.

The visa process is complex and can take some time to complete. For assistance receiving a student visa or for answers to your questions about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and N