How Do You Apply for a U.S. Student Visa?

Before entering the U.S., it is usually required that a foreign national obtain either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. This is also true of students who are citizens of foreign countries looking to come to the U.S. to study. Students looking to obtain a U.S. student visa will generally apply for either an F visa or an M visa, depending on the type of school they plan on attending and the course of study. M visas are for those students looking to attend a vocational or other similar training institution. F visas are for those students who plan on attending a college or university, high school, among other certain types of academic institutions.

Applying for U.S. Student Visa

In order to successfully apply for a U.S. student visa, whether it be an F visa or an M visa, certain requirements must be met. For instance, before you can even apply for a student visa, you must first apply and be accepted by a U.S. school that is certified by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program. Upon acceptance, the school should provide you with a Form I-20 which you will present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.

Additionally, you will need to complete Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. A photo of yourself that is in compliance with the set formatting method must be submitted with the application. You will also need to schedule and attend an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Sometimes, an interview will not be required. For instance, for those aged 13 or younger, an interview is not generally required. The same is true for those aged 80 or older. If you are between the ages of 14 and 79, however, it is likely that you will be required to attend an interview before your student visa is granted.

You should schedule the visa interview in the country where you live. It may be more difficult to schedule the interview outside the country where you live. You should also take into consideration the fact that wait times can widely vary before an interview time may be available. With this in mind, apply for your visa early to make sure you are allowed into the U.S. before your course of study begins. At the interview, the consular officer will determine whether you are qualified for a student visa. You will also need to submit digital fingerprints at the interview as part of the application process.

Be prepared for your interview by gathering all required documentation including:

  • Valid passport
  • Nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page
  • Receipt of application fee payment
  • Photo
  • Certificate of Eligibility

You may also be required to produce additional documentation such as evidence of academic preparation. Your interviewer may wish to review things such as your transcripts or diplomas from schools you have attended in the past. You may also be required to show how you plan to cover educational costs as well as living and travel expenses.

Immigration Law Attorneys

If you should have any questions or need more information 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 Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x107). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at