The United States is usually the top choice for students intending to study abroad. Except for individuals who possess U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status, all prospective students are required to submit a visa application to pursue studies in the United States. Typically, students are required to obtain either a student F or M visa to pursue a comprehensive academic program, including undergraduate, graduate, or research studies. Before looking into USA study visa requirements, let’s discuss the different categories of student visa.
There are three main categories of US student visas: F-1 visas are for full-time university study, J-1 permits are for exchange program participation, and M-1 visas are for vocational training. In most cases, students will need to apply for a visa under the F-1 category.
The individuals classified as dependents, including spouses and/or children, who fall under these specific visa categories are granted permission to accompany and reside in the United States for a temporary period until the student’s program completion. F-2, J-2, and M-2, respectively, are the dependent visa categories for the above-mentioned student visa classes.
Students who are seeking admission into a program that necessitates a study load exceeding 18 hours per week, including undergraduate, master’s, and MBA programs, are classified under the F-1 visa category.
A student with an F-1 visa is permitted to temporarily reside and pursue their education in the United States while they are enrolled in a recognized institution. In other words, the F-1 type is a non-immigrant visa category.
It must be an academic institution where you are enrolled; a vocational school cannot be your place of training. Your school must be SEVP-certified by the Department of Homeland Security to accept F-1 foreign students.
F-1 visa holders who enter the country as students may work, but since this is a non-immigrant visa, there are limitations on where they may work and the type of positions they are permitted to take up.
Participants in exchange programs such as students, researchers, and professors are eligible for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa. For instance, many students from Indian schools participating in short-term study abroad programs and Fulbright scholars would need a J-1 visa for visiting the US. Au pairs and Educare workers, government officials, interns, doctors, researchers, interns, teachers, trainees, and university students are all examples of exchange visitors.
The M1 visa is designated for individuals seeking to pursue vocational studies within the United States. Vocational training includes courses in cosmetology, flying school programs, technical studies, mechanical training, and cooking classes. Since there is no numerical cap on the M1, any student who satisfies the criteria may be issued a visa. The application process for both the F1 visa and the M-1 visa is identical; however, there is a distinction in terms of the time-stamping of M-1 visas upon entry. It is important to remember that M-1 visa holders can only stay in the United States for the length of time specified on their visa.
Students on the M1 Visa are barred from enrolling in academic courses. Part-time study is permitted for up to six months for those who enter the United States on an M1 Visa, but they are not allowed to seek out full-time work during that period. You must provide proof of sufficient funds to support your stay in the United States if you want to apply for an M1 Visa. Initial M1 Visa approvals are usually valid for one year.
Also, students who hold an M1 visa are restricted from working full-time in an off-campus setting, pursuing their studies as part-time students, switching their programs, migrating to another institution after the first six months, and continuing their studies in the United States to attain a degree.
During their first academic year, F-1 students are not allowed to work off-campus but are permitted to seek on-campus employment with certain restrictions. Following the completion of their initial year of study, F-1 students are eligible to engage in three distinct categories of off-campus employment.
In exceptional circumstances, such as extreme financial constraints or special student relief, F-1 students may be permitted to work off-campus. Practical training is permissible for M-1 students only upon the successful completion of their course of study.
Off-campus training employment for both F-1 and M-1 students necessitates a connection to their field of study and must receive proper authorization from the Designated School Official, an authorized professional responsible for managing the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), before commencing any work.
Students with an F-1 STEM visa who have a pending Form I-765 may now avail of premium work permit processing. Only OPT and STEM OPT extension-seeking students are eligible for this extension.
USA study visa requirements for Indian students are listed as follows :
F-1 visas for new students can only be granted up to one year before the commencement date of an academic program. The time frame used to be 120 days, but the State Department extended it in February 2023.
Revised fee: As of June 17, 2023, the application processing fee for student visa categories will increase from USD 160 to USD 185.
Visa fee validity: Non-immigrant visa application fee payments issued after October 1, 2022, are valid for 365 days. Applicants who filed for their student visas before October 1, 2022, will not be charged the revised fee until September 30, 2023.
Interview waiver: An interview waiver could be available for applicants seeking F, M, or academic J visas. The applicant must already be in possession of a valid US visa from one of the approved categories. Regardless of expiration, the new regulation applies to people who were granted a U.S. visa. Individuals who had a recent visa application denied are ineligible for the waiver program. The decision to grant an interview waiver will be taken on a case-by-case basis by embassies and consulates.
Vaccination Requirements: To fly to the US, noncitizen non-immigrant air travellers no longer need to present evidence of an approved COVID-19 vaccination.
We understand that the USA student visa process might appear overwhelming at first. To make things easier for you, we have addressed key components such as visa classifications, eligibility, employment opportunities, required documents, and the most recent updates. Please contact Manya-The Princeton Review’s experienced advisors for further information and case-specific assistance.Book your Free Counselling Session now!