The US is a top destination for international students, with more than a million students studying at its 350 universities each year. It is also one of the most livable countries, with 10 cities on the Economist’s list of the top 50 cities. With so much to choose from, it is easy to see why so many students from around the world choose the US as their study and living destination.
From its stunning natural beauty to its modern cities, great public transport, and great infrastructure. It is no surprise that more students are flocking to the US to study. But if you are a foreign student looking to study in the US, either on a full-time basis or for a short course, you will need a valid visa.
If you want to apply for a student visa, you will need to have a valid, current passport for the length of your degree, and you will also need to have found a place to study in the US. To succeed in the student visa application process, you will need to know the ins and outs of the process.
Otherwise, you might lose out on the application process. This is why, despite the influx of top-level students applying for student visas every year, approval of only some of those applications is on record. To avoid this, you can talk with an immigration attorney in Jackson Heights, NY.
In this post, we put together a brief of the basic info you need to know about student visas in the US.
Types of US Student Visas
There are different types of student visas in the US, depending on your study plan and purpose.
1. The F-1 Student Visa
This is an international student visa for those who want to go to college or university full-time in the US. If you are planning to study full-time in the US, you will need this student visa. You can get an F-1 visa as early as 120 days before your course starts, but you cannot get into the US on this visa until 30 days before your course starts.
You can also do an internship after you finish your full academic year, which is usually done as Curricular Practical Training (CPT). But if you are working for 20 hours a week or more for twelve months, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
International students often use OPT to stay and work in the US for 12 months after graduation. If you are an F-1 visa holder, you can get an F-2 visa for dependents (spouses and unmarried kids under 21). Same-sex married couples can also get F-2 visas.
You can also get an F-3 visa if you are a Mexican or Canadian student who lives in your home country and goes to school in the US part-time or full-time. You can connect with an immigration attorney in Jackson Heights, NY, to get more clarity on this type of visa.
2. The M-1 Student Visa
This type of US student visa is for international students who want to do non-academic or vocational study or training in a US school or university. An M-1 student is admitted for a set amount of time, including their program and any optional practical training they get. They cannot stay more than a year unless they get a medical extension.
They cannot work on or off campus while studying, and they cannot switch to an F-1 status. If you have an M-1 visa, you can get an M-2 visa for your dependents (like an F-2 visa). You can also get an M-3 visa if you are a border commuter, like an F-3 visa, only for non-academic and vocational studies.
3. The J-1 Student Visa
This is a US student visa for international exchange visitors. It is for people who want to be part of a program that encourages cultural exchange. You need to meet the eligibility requirements and be sponsored by either the private sector or a government program.
J-1 visas usually last for a semester or two in the US. If you are part of an exchange program funded by the government, if you are a graduate of medical school, or if your training is on the list of Exchange Visitor Skills, you will need to meet the requirement of two years of physical presence in your home country at the end of your program.
It means that at the end of your exchange visitor program, you will need to return to your home country for at least two years. If you hold a J-1 visa, you can get a J-2 visa for people who are dependent on you, just like the F-2 visa. An immigration attorney in Jackson Heights, NY can guide you to pick the student visa that meets your needs.
US Student Visa Application Process
If you are applying for a US student visa, just make sure you are enrolled at a US college or university. Once you have done that, you will need to sign up for the student and exchange visitor information system (SEVIS) and pay the fee. The fee is usually $200 for an F1 visa or M1 visa and $180 for a J1 visa.
Once you have signed up, you will have to fill out an online DS-160 application form and pick a visa interview date at your nearest US embassy or consulate. Depending on the visa, you can get an F1 visa up to 120 days ahead of your course start date or an M1 visa up to 30 days ahead of your start date.
And if you are an international student, you can get a J1 visa at any time. The waiting time for US student visas can range from 3 days to almost 3 months, so it is best to start your application right away after you confirm your enrollment at a college or university in the US.
If you want to get a student visa to the US, you will need to get a few things ready. You will need copies of your passport, an original, a printed application form, and an appointment letter for an interview. You will also need proof of enrollment or admission from your college, proof of funds, a transcript, and other stuff.
The process is complex, and hiring an immigration attorney in Jackson Heights, NY is a good idea.
Get Legal Help
Do you dream of studying in the US but do not know how to go about it? Take a chill pill because Gehi and Associates is here for you. At Gehi and Associates, we will guide you through the entire application process and make sure you get the best result.
Our team of experienced immigration attorneys knows what to do at every turn in the application process. You can trust us. Need more info? Contact us right away!