What Visa Do I Need to Study In The USA?

Monday, 15 August 2016
What Visa Do I Need to Study In The USA?

Study in the USA on an F-1 visa

If you wish to study in the USA, you will most likely require an F-1 visa. This visa allows you to study at an academic institution in the US, such as a university or secondary school, or to take an English-language course. This is different to a J-1 visa, which is for participants of work- or study-based exchange programmes. The F-1 visa is also distinct from the M-1 visa, which is for international students taking a vocational or non-academic course.

How to apply for an F-1 visa

You can apply for an F-1 visa through the US Embassy or Consulate based in your country of residence. These are normally found in major cities, and there may be more than one in each country. You should visit your embassy or consulate website for information on how to apply for a visa.

There are 5 steps that need to be completed in order to apply for a US visa:

1. Select your visa type - as a student wishing to study at an academic institution in the US, you will need to select ‘F1-visa’ (this will be classed on the embassy website as a ‘non-immigrant’ visa).

2. Check your eligibility. You must:

  • be normally resident in a country other than the US,
  • have received support for your application from the institution at which you wish to study.  Your institution will determine your eligibility to study with them.  Once they are satisfied that you meet the academic requirements and that you can support your studies financially,  they will issue you with a 1-20 form  - required when applying for the F-1 visa
  • be able to support yourself financially for the duration of your stay in the US
  • be able to prove close ties with your country of origin (such as having family there)
  • intend to return there once your studies have ended. 

3. Complete an online DS-160 form. Once you have completed the form you must print the confirmation page with a barcode.

4. Visit where you should create an account, pay the visa fee, schedule an appointment at your nearest embassy or consulate and arrange for the return of your passport.

5. Attend your scheduled interview at your local embassy or consulate, bringing any necessary documentation with you. Details on documents required by UK residents intending to study in the US can be found here: . During the interview you will be asked questions, such as why you have chosen to study in the US and why you have chosen your particular institution to study at.

To determine the likely processing time of your visa, you can enter the city in which you made your application here:

rules you must follow

Once you have been granted an F-1 visa, you may arrive in the US no more than 30 days before the start of visa. Once you have arrived, you should inform your international advisor at your institution. During your course of study, you should remain enrolled on a full-time basis and try to acquire pass grades. If you are struggling with the completion of your course, speak to your advisor and ask them to help you apply for a visa extension, if necessary. Once your course of study is completed you may spend no more than a further 60 days in the US.  

If you moving to the USA to study, why not send your luggage with Send My Bag. This means you can quickly and easily set up home in the US. Find out more about student shipping and claim your 10% student discount on our student removals page.

Are you thinking of studying abroad in the UK  instead? Check out our next blog to find out what visa you need to study in the UK.

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