USA Study Visa Guide – Types, Application, Issuance and Everything In Between

A fact that you already know.

You need a US study visa to pursue a program in the country.

A fact that you might not know.

There are 3 types of US study visas. Which type you should apply for depends on various factors. 

Which type you should apply for?

Well, that’s what we are here for. Everything from the US study visa requirements to the application process for F1 Visa USA to finally getting it issued. Read on and get to know it all.

Table of Content

Types of US Study Visas

Before you start your application process, let’s run you through the types of US study visas. 

US Study Visas Visa Types Who Needs to Apply Relevant Details
F Visas (for international students) F1 Visa Full-time international students
  • With this, you can work 20 hours a week on-campus.
  • To work more than that, you need to gain prior authorization for CPT* or OPT* from USCIS*.
F2 Visa Dependents of the F1 Visa holders
  • The list of dependents includes spouses and children who are unmarried and under 21 years of age.
  • Also includes same-sex married couples.
F3 Visa Border Commuters
  • Includes Canadian or Mexican students.
  • The students must be attending a full-time or part-time US school and reside in the country of their origin. 
M Visas (for international students engaged in vocational study/ non-academic/ training) M1 Visa For students engaging in non-academic or vocational studies
  • The fixed time of admission to the country = Length of the program + OPT.
  • Unless there are exceptions due to medical reasons, students must not stay for longer than 1 year.
  • Visa holders can’t work either on- or off-campus.
  • They can’t change their status to F1 Visa holders.
M2 Visa For the dependents of M1 Visa holders
  • Same as the F2 visa
M3 Visa Border Commuters
  • Just like the F3 visa but for the international students with non-academic or vocational studies.
J Visas (international exchange visitors promoting cultural exchange) J1 Visa Exchange students
  • For govt-funded exchange programs, the J1 Visa holders will have to return to their home country at the end of their program for at least 2 years.
J2 Visa For the dependents of J1 Visa holders
  • Same as the F2 visa

*USCIS – US Citizenship and Immigration Services

*CPT – Curriculum Practical Training

*OPT – Optional Practical Training

Requirements for F1 US Study Visa

“Do I qualify to apply for the F1 Visa USA?”

If you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is hidden in the following points. If you can tick each of these criteria then you are, for sure, eligible to apply for the visa. 

  • Admitted into a SEVP (Student Exchange Visitor Program) accepted institution
  • Proven financial sufficiency
  • Enrolled as a student
  • Strong ties to the home country
  • Proof of proficiency in the English language

So? Did you tick all these boxes?

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Why? Because going through the daunting and time-consuming experience of the visa process is worth only the best, or rather, the right university. And what better way to figure that out than  to use actionable advice, personalized recommendations, and exclusive events. 

How to Apply for F1 Visa US?

How do you make a complicated process easy? 

By breaking it down into simpler steps, right?

So, here are the simple yet not-so-simple steps that you must follow during your F1 Visa US application. 

How to Apply for F1 Visa US

STEP 1: Get Accepted to a SEVP-Approved US School

  • SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) is responsible to administer the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  • It is important for you to get accepted at a SEVP-approved school to ensure that you are pursuing a US government and internationally-recognized degree. 

STEP 2: Get Form I-20 or DS-2019

  • Once you get accepted at the school of your choice, you will either receive Form I-20 or DS-2019.
  • I-20 form is for those who are eligible to receive F1 and M1 visas, whereas, for J1 Visa, the school sends the DS-2019 form.  

Also Read: All About Form I-20 to Study in USA

STEP 3: Pay the Sevis I-901 Fee

  • Being accepted at a US school means that you have been enrolled in the SEVIS system.
  • To ensure your enrolment, you will have to pay your SEVIS I-901 Fee.

STEP 4: Fill Out DS-160 Form Online

  • With the SEVIS fee submission, you will have to complete your Visa application online at a US embassy near your area. 
  • For this, you will have to fill out a form called DS-160.
  • You will also have to pay your visa application fee called MRV (Machine Readable Visa) fee.
  • This fee is non-refundable.
Expert Advice: Irrespective of the batch commencement date, begin your visa application process as soon as you receive an acceptance letter from your prospective school. This is because the entire may take up to 120 days. 

STEP 5: Book a Visa Interview

STEP 6: Attend the Interview & Pay an Issuance Fee

  • The next step is to appear for the interview. 
  • Your visa will not be processed until you appear for the visa interview with a consular officer. 
  • Your wait time for the appointment will depend on factors like your visa category, season, and location. 
  • If you get authorized for the visa, you will have to pay an issuance fee.
  • Whether or not you’ll be required to pay this fee depends on your nationality and other factors. 

STEP 7: Get your US Study Visa

  • Finally, if you meet all the requirements, your embassy returns your passport along with your visa.
  • The duration of visa processing can vary for different embassies. 

Must-have Documents for F1 Visa US Application

Now, let’s talk about the most important thing.

Documents.

Yes, as much as you might think that comprehending different types of US study visas or the entire application process is important, it’s all worth nothing if you don’t have all the right documents with you. 

Check out this list of must-have documents for your F1 Visa application. Some of these documents you must hold before the application and some you’ll be able to produce after certain steps in the process. 

Whatever the case, just ensure that you have all these with you. 

☑ A passport that doesn’t expire for at least 6 months beyond the period of your stay in the US

☑ Acceptance Letter from a SEVP-approved US school

☑ Form I-20 issued by the school

☑ SEVIS fee payment receipt

☑ For DS-160 confirmation page

☑ Application for the visa as a non-immigrant

☑ Your recent photograph (in the format and number as requested by the official authorities)

☑ Proof of funds (get more details below)

☑ Proof that you will leave the country after the completion of your study (you can use a return air ticket for the same)

NOTE: Please know that these are the common and basic requirements for US Study Visa. to get more or specific details, talk to our expert board of advisors or write to us at grad@gradright.com.

Proof of Funds for F1 Visa US

As an important step in the visa processing, you will have to prove that you have sufficient funds to pay for your entire tuition along with your housing. 

For that, you can produce the following documents:

  • Bank statements (of past 3 years)
  • Form 16 to show tax returns (of past 3 years)
  • Employment Letter or salary slips
  • MRV Fee Receipt
  • Scholarship letter (if applies)
  • A loan approval letter (by the concerned authority)
  • Financial undertaking by a sponsor (if applies)
  • Standardized test scores

Cost of US Study Visa

Have you figured out the entire process yet?

Yes?

Great. Now, let’s find out how much will you have to pay for the entire application process, shall we?

Fee Type Amount  Nature 
SEVIS Fee USD 50 Non-refundable 
MRV Fee USD 160 Non-refundable 
F-Visa Application Fee USD 160 Non-refundable and Non-transferable
M-Visa Application Fee USD 160 Non-refundable and Non-transferable
J-Visa Application Fee USD 160 Non-refundable and Non-transferable

An Advice: Make sure to keep the receipt for all the fee payments as they will be required later in the process. 

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