Student Visas (F or M)
U.S. immigration law provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for study in the United States. The "F" visa is for academic studies, and the "M" visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies. In order to obtain a student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted at a school in the U.S. Once you have been accepted, the school will forward you a form called the I-20A-B or I-20M-N. You must present this form in order to get a visa.
Students applying for F or M visas must pay a SEVIS fee in the amount of $200. This fee covers the cost of administrating the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This fee must be paid before the student applies for a visa. Derivative applicants (F-2 and M-2) do not have to pay a SEVIS fee. For further details and information on how to pay the fee please visit http://www.FMJfee.com.
Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.
Initial Entry into the U.S.
Please be aware that United States Department of Homeland Security regulations state that first-time holders of F or M nonimmigrant visas will not be admitted to the United States more than 30 days prior to the beginning of the program date, or start date, as noted on the Form I-20A-B or I-20M-N. Please consider the date carefully when making your travel plans to the United States. This rule does not apply to returning students, who may resume their studies at any time during the validity of their visas.
F-1 students may stay in the U.S. as a tourist for 60 days after the program end date listed on their I-20A-B and M-1 students may stay in the U.S. as a tourist for 30 days after the program end date listed on their I-20M-N.
A spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also qualify for a nonimmigrant visa to accompany or follow the student (F2 or M2). Family members must meet all visa eligibility requirements. Spouses and children of students may not accept employment at any time.
In addition to the items listed on the visa application check list, visitors who are going to the United States as students must bring the following to their visa interview:
F-1 and M-1 applicants:
I-20A-B or I-20M-N
SEVIS fee receipt
F-2 and M-2 applicants:
For information on how to apply for a visa, please see the "How to Apply" section.
The Consular Section will make every effort to accommodate interview appointments for students (F or M visas) who need to report to a U.S. educational institution by a certain date. In order to accommodate applicant's arrival before the program start date, applicant may request an emergency appointment if no regular appointments are available.