Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F visa or an M visa.
You Need an F visa to enter the United States to attend a:
You Need an M visa to enter the United States to attend a:
Students cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas
A student visa (F or M) is required to study in the United States. Foreign nationals may not study after entering on a visitor (B) visa or through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), except to undertake recreational study (non-credit) as part of a tourist visit. For more information on the VWP, see Visa Waiver Program.
For short periods of recreational study, a Visitor (B) visa may be appropriate
A visitor (B) visa permits enrollment in a short recreational course of study, which is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate. Learn more about Visitor Visas.
Study leading to a U.S. conferred degree or certificate is never permitted on a visitor (B) visa, even if it is for a short duration. For example, a student in a distance learning program that requires a period of time on the institution’s U.S. campus must obtain a student (F or M) visa prior to entering the United States.
For more details on an F or M visa, visit Travel.State.gov.
Student Acceptance at a SEVP Approved School
The first step is to apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States. After the SEVP-approved school accepts your enrollment, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. The SEVP-approved school will issue you a Form I-20. After you receive Form I-20 and register in SEVIS, you may apply at a U.S. embassy, consulate, or office providing consular services for a student (F or M) visa. You must present Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
If your spouse and/or children intend to live with you in the United States while you study, they must also enroll in SEVIS, obtain individual Form I-20s from the SEVP-approved school, and apply for a visa (but they do not pay the SEVIS fee).
Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
Visit the Department of State EducationUSA website to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, and an overview of the application process. You can also visit the DHS Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.
Be sure to view local information below to determine fees and payment process and additional requirements.
Complete the Online Visa Application
You should have the following documents available while you complete your DS-160:
Some applicants will need to have additional information and documents handy while completing the DS-160
Additional documentation may be required
A consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a student visa, and may request additional documents, such as evidence of:
For more information on the DS-160 please visit the Travel.State.gov FAQ page.
Each Applicant must pay a non-refundable processing (MRV) fee of US$185.00.
For some nationalities and visa types, an additional issuance fee may be required. Detailed information is available on your country of nationality’s Reciprocity Table on travel.state.gov. These additional fees will be paid at the time of your interview.
Applicants for F1, M1, and J1 visas must pay the appropriate SEVIS fee online BEFORE they come to the interview. It is not possible to pay the SEVIS fee in person. The SEVIS fee does not replace the processing (MRV) or any other additional fees or reciprocity fees as listed on your country of nationality’s Reciprocity Table.
Schedule an interview online (using the barcode of your Form DS-160) and print the appointment confirmation. Because of space limitations in our public waiting area, only the person with an appointment for an interview will be admitted. Exceptions: Parents or guardians of a minor child who has an appointment, a caregiver for a disabled person, and young children accompanying the person with an appointment will be allowed to enter the waiting area.
Applicants aged 14 – 79 are required (some exceptions for renewals) to book one interview slot each and appear in person for an interview with a consular officer. While an interview is generally not required for children aged 13 and younger or for adults aged 80 and older, please keep in mind that a consular officer can require any applicant to appear for an interview. When submitting an application for a non-present child, the person present at the interview should bring the child’s birth certificate or family book as a supporting document.
Please read the information in this section carefully. It contains location-specific information that you will need to know when applying for your Visa.
Select the country or area where you will apply for your visa:
You can check the status of your visa application on ceac.state.gov.
Some visa applications may require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case.