Each year, the U.S. attracts thousands of foreign students who want to pursue their studies at accredited educational institutions. While it may seem that securing a student visa should be straightforward, that is not often the case. Managing the forms and evidence required are sometimes far more complicated than gaining admission. Timing is imperative, and it is crucial that students are fully informed and prepared for interviews when seeking a visa. Interviewers consider the individual and their situation on a range of topics, from family, finances, past and future travel plans, and work history when considering student visas.
Listed below are the different types of visas available for students and exchange visitors in the U.S.
The F-1 visa category is for academic students wishing to pursue a full course of study in the U.S. at an accredited university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or other academic institution, including an English language program. The F-1 status is valid for the duration of the course of study and students are eligible for certain employment authorization while in the United States.
The J-1 visa is for exchange visitors who come to the United States to participate in an exchange visitor program administered by the U.S. Department of State. J-1 programs include trainees, college or university students, secondary school students, professors and research scholars, short-term scholars, specialists, foreign medical graduates, international and government visitors, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs, and summer work / travel students.
The M-1 visa category is for students who intend to pursue a vocational, non-academic program (other than a language training program) in a SEVIS certified institution in the United States. Examples of vocational study are training programs for health care technicians, machinists, dental hygienists, and other similar pursuits. M-1 students are allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to one year, and may not pursue employment while in the United States receiving training on a visa, but may be eligible for up to 6 months of practical training upon completion of their program.