Study in USA: Process, Requirements, Documents, Visa & Benefits


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Anand Patinge

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Over 1 million students from around the world chose USA universities in the 2022-23 academic year. The number is all the more impressive because it marks a whopping 12% jump from the year before.


That’s the fastest growth in over four decades.

What’s more – international students now make up 6% of all students in the USA higher education and contribute nearly $38 billion to the U.S. economy.

So, if you want to study abroad, the USA – quite understandably – the #1 choice for most students. That’s because the USA offers a world-class education, exciting campuses, and strong post-graduation career prospects.

However, for someone only at the cusp of their study abroad search, information can be overwhelming. 

This guide will help. 

Table of contents

  • Student requirements for the USA
  • Benefits of studying in the USA
  • Admission process for international students in the USA
  • Top courses to study in the USA
  • Top universities to study in the USA
  • Cost to study in the USA
  • Scholarships to study in the USA
  • Education loans for USA studies
  • Job prospects in the USA
  • Post-study work permit in the USA
  • Cost of living in the USA
  • FAQs

Student Requirements For The US

As a student from India who wants to study in the USA after 12th, you must first know a few things. 

Let’s learn about the process for getting a student visa for the USA. It’s a five step process. 

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Choose the Right Student Visa

There are three main types of student visas:

  • F-1 Visa: This is the most common type. This visa is for students enrolling in academic programs at accredited US colleges or universities. It allows you to stay for the duration of your academic program plus an additional 60 days. With this visa, you can work part-time on campus. Moreover, with authorization, this visa lets you stay in the USA for optional practical training (OPT) related to your field of study.
  • J-1 Visa: This visa is for those participating in exchange programs. However, the J-1 visa’s condition is that you must return to your home country for a minimum of two years after your program ends.
  • M-1 Visa: The M-1 visa is designed for students in technical and vocational programs. Unlike the F-1 visa, M-1 visa holders cannot work during their studies. These students have to complete their studies within the time frame approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

2. Apply for Your Visa

Before you can apply, you have to be accepted by a USA school approved by the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP). 

After that, you can fill out the visa application form (DS-160). 

Then you will schedule an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate.

3. Prepare for Your Interview

Book an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate. 

You’ll need a few things for this:

  • A valid passport
  • The DS-160 form confirmation page
  • A receipt to show you’ve paid the application fee
  • A Form I-20 or DS-2019 from your USA school
  • You might also need to show your academic records and proof that you can pay for your studies

4. Wait for approval after the Interview

At the interview, you’ll need to show that you qualify for the visa. Be ready to discuss your study plans, school, and how you’ll pay for everything.

If your visa is approved, you can travel to the US. 

But remember, a visa doesn’t guarantee you’ll be allowed to enter the country. That decision is made by a Customs and Border Protection officer when you arrive in the US.

5. Keep Your Status

Once in the USA, you must follow certain rules to keep your student status. This means going to school full-time and not staying in the USA longer than allowed.

Benefits of studying in the USA

The benefits of studying in the USA for international students are many. For instance, your US education means you get access to world-class universities, a diverse range of programs, and excellent career opportunities.

But that’s not it. There are more:

Top Universities

The USA is home to some of the world’s top universities, like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT. Dozens of American universities rank in all the reputed lists of global top universities. 

Different Programs

The variety of study programs is vast. You can pursue degrees in Analytics, Finance, and Healthcare. Plus, STEM programs—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—are a big draw. These programs, along with traditional fields like Medicine and Business Management, are great to jump-start your career.  

English Skills

Studying in the USA gives you the chance to improve your English skills. This can be a big advantage in the global job market, where English is often the language of business​​.

Internships and Co-op programs

American universities have strong connections with industries and offer internships and Co-Op programs. Co-op programs mix classroom learning with real work experience. So, while you’re studying, you also take turns working full-time in positions related to your major.


You’ll meet students from all over the world, giving you the chance to learn about different cultures and make lifelong friends. 


Universities in the USA offer a range of support services to help international students adjust to life in a new country. These include academic and career counseling and assistance with immigration and visas​​.

Research Opportunities

The opportunities in research in the USA are unprecedented. Universities like Johns Hopkins and Caltech are often at the forefront of breakthroughs in medicine, technology, and science. Moreover, students have opportunities to work in projects funded by institutions like the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation.


Living in the USA offers a cultural experience that many Indian students desire. 

Innovation Leadership

The USA is home to the most innovative companies in the world. These include giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, but the list can include 100s more.

Admission Process for International Students in the USA

The admission process for studying in the USA for international students can be time-consuming. So it’s important to start early and stay organized.

Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Choose Your Universities

Pick the schools you’re interested in. Look at their programs and what they offer.

Step 2: Check the Requirements

Understand the specific requirements to study in the USA for each university. Make sure you know what they are. 

It could include things like your grades, English language tests, and specific exams like the GRE, GMAT, SAT or ACT​​​​.

Step 3: Take the Tests

You might need to take tests like the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, or IELTS. 

Plan to take these well before your application deadlines ​​​​.

Step 4: Prepare Your Application

Fill out your application forms carefully. 

You’ll also need to write a personal essay and get letters of recommendation ​​​.

Step 5: Submit Your Application

Send your application to the chosen universities. 

Make sure you meet their deadlines.

Step 6: Accept Your Offer

After you submit your application, you’ll have to wait to hear back from the universities. This can take a few weeks.

If you are accepted, you will need to confirm your spot and pay a deposit.

Step 7: Get Your Visa

Once you’re accepted, you’ll need to apply for a student visa to study in the USA.

Top Courses To Study In USA

Choosing the right course is a big decision, and with tons of amazing options in the USA, it can feel overwhelming. 

5,000+ programs is a lot.  Let SelectRight guide you to the best fit. 

How Does SelectRight Work?

SelectRight is absolutely free. It uses smart technology to match your unique educational background with universities that are a great fit.

All you need to do is…

Share your grades, test scores (if needed), interests, and what you want to do after graduation.

SelectRight does the rest for you…


  • Considers over 15,000 programs and lots of data
  • Uses AI to match you with top programs that give you maximum RoI
  • Helps avoid programs banks may not fund
  • Connects you with our study abroad experts who are available with advice whenever you need it
  • Works like a digital roof for all the information you need to manage your search for the right course and right university

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to begin the process of narrowing down your search for the best university in the USA. 

Are you passionate about technology and problem-solving?

The fields like Computer Science, Engineering (think Electrical, Mechanical, etc.), or Data Science might be perfect for you! 

These are in high demand right now and can lead to exciting careers.

Do you have a knack for business and leadership?

Business Administration, Finance, and Marketing could be great options. They’ll equip you with the skills to excel in the business world.

Business Analytics is another field in demand, combining your business sense with data analysis skills.

Maybe you have a heart for helping others?

The USA has fantastic healthcare programs – Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health are just a few examples. These can lead to fulfilling careers making a real difference.

This is just a starting point, of course. 

There are many other fantastic courses available in the USA, from creative fields like Design and Media to social sciences like Psychology and Education.

The key is to figure out what YOU’RE passionate about. 

What are your strengths and interests? 

What kind of career do you see yourself in? 

Once you have a better idea, you can start researching specific programs that align with your goals.


Top Universities To Study In the USA

The USA is home to some incredible universities. 

There are many ranking systems that claim to offer a fair listing of US universities. 

For instance, there’s one by U.S. News and World Report


From the bustling campuses of the Ivy League to the vibrant energy of state universities, each institution offers a unique learning experience.

Here are some of the most popular places in USA to study:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Chicago

But there are many many more incredible options to explore. 

Cost To Study In USA

The US education system offers incredible opportunities, but the cost can be a big question mark. 

Let’s break down the key factors that affect how much you’ll spend:

1. Tuition Fees 

This is the main cost, it will vary depending on the university type.

Public universities are generally more affordable, with in-state students paying less than out-of-state or international students.

Private universities are typically more expensive than public options, but may offer scholarships or financial aid.

On average, the costs per year can be somewhere in the range:

  • Bachelor’s degree (public): ₹15 to ₹35 lakh
  • Bachelor’s degree (private): ₹30 to ₹60 lakh
  • Master’s degree: ₹16 to ₹36 lakh
  • Doctoral degree: ₹22 to ₹45 lakh

2. Living Expenses

Costs differ based on location (big city vs. small town), your lifestyle, and accommodation choices (dorms, apartments, etc.). 

On average, living expenses range between ₹7 to ₹12 lakh per year.

Here’s a breakdown of some common expenses:

  • Rent: This can range from ₹30,000 to ₹50,000 per month. This depends on whether you’re in a shared apartment in a small town or a private studio in a city center.
  • Food: Monthly grocery costs might range from ₹10,000 to ₹15,000. Dining out will add more based on how often you do it.
  • Transportation: A monthly public transit pass can be around ₹3,000 to ₹5,000. To own and maintain a car could increase your expenses significantly.
  • Utilities: For essentials like electricity, water, heating, and internet, you might pay between ₹5,000 and ₹10,000 monthly.

3. Additional Expenses

Many universities require students to have health insurance. So the approximate costs would be:

  • Health insurance: ₹55,000 to ₹85,000 per school year
  • Books and supplies: ₹40,000 to ₹80,000 per year

Scholarships To Study In the USA

Scholarships are a fantastic way to bridge the financial gap and make studying in the USA a more realistic possibility.

Here’s a breakdown to get you started:

Prestigious Programs:

These highly regarded awards cover tuition, living expenses, health insurance, and even airfare for international students pursuing graduate studies (Master’s or PhD) in the US.

Broad-Based Opportunities:

Open to international students in any field of study at participating USA colleges and universities. These scholarships focus on applicants who demonstrate a passion for promoting intercultural understanding.

Specialized Programs:

These fully-funded scholarships target students from specific countries pursuing a Master’s degree in the USA or another host nation, focusing on leadership in civil society.

This program offers scholarships for Master’s students who want to study at a designated Rotary Peace Center, like Duke University or UNC Chapel Hill, with a focus on international peacebuilding.

University-Specific Support:

Many universities offer their own scholarships specifically for international students. Here are a few examples:

Education Loans For USA Studies 

Scholarships are a fantastic way to fund your USA education, but they might not cover the entire cost. This is where education loans step in. 

Here’s a quick overview of education loans for international students:

  • Eligibility: International students are eligible for specific loan programs offered by private lenders or government organizations in their home country.
  • Loan Coverage: These loans can cover tuition fees, living expenses, and other education-related costs.
  • Repayment: You’ll typically begin repaying the loan after graduation, with interest accruing throughout your studies.

Apart from this, you also need to keep in mind a few other things like interest rates, and co-signer requirements. 

Or, you can use FundRight to simplify your search.

You just need to fill out a quick online form, and FundRight does the legwork for you. It connects you with a network of lenders waiting to offer you an education loan, leading to more favorable interest rates and terms.

Save up to 23 lakhs on your education loan with FundRight. See how much you can save.

Job Prospects In The USA

International students in the USA have a range of job prospects across various sectors.

On-Campus Jobs

These roles offer a taste of the professional world while you study. Think library assistant, helping students find research materials. Teaching assistant, supporting professors and classmates. 

Or campus tech support, keeping the university network running smoothly. These jobs typically pay $7 to $12 per hour, giving you some income and building your resume.

Off-Campus Opportunities

After your first year, the possibilities expand with off-campus jobs. These roles can be in retail, hospitality, or even administrative positions in companies. 

Remember, visa requirements apply here, so research what’s allowed for your specific situation.

Programs to Help

  • Programs like Curricular Practical Training (CPT) let you do internships or co-ops related to your studies.  
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to work full-time for up to a year after graduation. 
  • STEM graduates (science, technology, engineering, math) can even extend their OPT for an additional 24 months.

High-Demand Fields

Certain sectors offer great prospects for international students with the right skills. 

Engineering, for example, needs civil engineers to design infrastructure. They can earn an average of over $85,600 annually. 

Healthcare is another strong area, with nurses and pharmacists making up to $163,000 per year. And in the booming tech industry, data scientists and IT managers are highly sought after, often earning over $100,000.

Post-Study Work Permit In The USA

After completing your studies in the USA, you have several options to stay back and work, depending on your visa status and field of study:

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

This program allows F-1 visa holders to work full-time for up to 12 months after graduation in a job directly related to their field of study.  

Important: Apply for OPT before you finish your program, and start early to avoid delays.

STEM OPT Extension

If you graduated with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM), you might be eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT. This extension gives you a total of 36 months to work in the USA and gain experience in your field. 

There are some requirements, though: your employer must be part of a government program called E-Verify, and you need to apply before your initial OPT ends.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is typically part-time during semesters but can be full-time during breaks.  

So, you can gain practical experience related to your major without jeopardizing your studies.

H-1B Visa 

After your OPT period is over, you might be eligible for an H-1B visa. It allows you to work in a specialized occupation in the US, sponsored by a USA employer.  

The H-1B starts with a three-year validity period and can be extended up to six years.

Cost Of Living In the USA

Generally, the annual cost of living for international students in the USA falls between ₹7.3 lakhs and ₹18.2 lakhs. We know it’s hard, but these are facts about studying in the USA. 

This includes essential expenses like:

  • Accommodation
  • Food and groceries, dining out, and meal plans
  • Transportation
  • Course materials
  • Electricity, water, and internet bills 
  • The cost of living can differ dramatically depending on where you study. 

Major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are notoriously expensive, while smaller towns often offer a more affordable lifestyle.


What documents are required for a USA student visa?

Passport, visa application form DS-160, SEVIS fee receipt, I-20 form, financial proof, academic transcripts, and test scores.

Which visa is required to study in USA after 12th?

Most students need an F-1 visa for academic programs. J-1 and M-1 visas are for exchange visitors and vocational students, respectively.

How much money is required for a USA study visa?

The visa application fee is $160. Additional costs include SEVIS fee ($350 for F-1 visa) and living expenses.

What are the requirements for a study permit in the USA?

Acceptance from a SEVP-approved school, financial stability, strong ties to home country, and a valid passport.

Can I work while studying in the USA?

Yes, with restrictions. F-1 students can work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year.

What is the duration of an F-1 student visa?

Duration of your academic program plus 60 days grace period after program completion.

Can I extend my stay in the USA after completing my studies?

Yes, through Optional Practical Training (OPT) or by applying for a work visa like H-1B.

Is health insurance mandatory for international students in the USA?

Yes, most universities require international students to have health insurance coverage.

How much percentage is required to study in USA?

To study in the USA, a minimum academic record of 65% or higher in the humanities stream and 70-80% or higher in the science/commerce stream in class XII is required. 

Can I bring my family with me on an F-1 visa?

Yes, spouses and unmarried children under 21 can apply for F-2 visas.

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Anand Patinge

A master storyteller, Anand has enriched multiple entities with captivating designs, compelling messaging, and impactful media campaigns. Beyond work, you can find him feeding stray dogs, exploring art, and watching insiprational documentaries.

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