If you enrolled in an educational institution in the United States, plan to study English at a language school in the United States, or have been selected to participate in exchange programs, you must obtain a visa. The United States supports international education, although it is known for its strict immigration requirements for students. Before applying for a visa, familiarize yourself with the conditions for obtaining a visa for study and make sure that you have supporting documents from an educational institution or academic sponsor.
Under the U.S. Immigration Law, there are categories of non-immigrant visas for those wishing to study in the United States:
- “F” is a student visa for studying at a university, college, high school, private school, seminary, conservatory and other academic institutions to participate in the language training program.
- “M” – a student visa for training in vocational education institutions and official non-academic institutions for a purpose other than participation in the language training program;
- “J” is a visa for participants in exchange programs.
Now we will get acquainted with each category of visas in more detail.
The condition for obtaining this category of visa is, first of all, Your enrollment in one of the following programs:
- U.S. Higher Education Bachelor Program
- Graduate Program in US Higher Education
- Associate Program at US Municipal Colleges
- U.S. Higher Education Preparation Program
- Program for studying English in a language school (at least 2 weeks)
- Short-term vocational training programs
- Vacation programs for schoolchildren and students
The basis for obtaining a F student visa is Form I-20, which is issued by an educational institution in the United States after the full admission process. Such a visa allows students to work up to 20 hours a week on the campus of an educational institution under the time of the study period, and after graduation, university students can extend their stay in the United States for up to 12 months under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. STEM students have the additional opportunity to extend their stay in the United States for another 24 months under the OPT STEM program after completing the main ORT program.
M visas are granted to those students who have chosen to study at vocational education institutions or plan to study at official non-academic educational institutions such as a pilot school, dance school or non-academic art school, etc. In contrast to category F, a visa of category “ M “does not give the opportunity to work while studying.
Detailed information on visas of categories “F” and “M” can be found here.
Exchange programs are carried out in accordance with the Law on mutual cultural and educational exchange of 1961 with amendments and additions. This Act aims to improve understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. International educational and cultural exchanges are one of the most effective ways to develop long-term and meaningful relationships.
Today, the State Department has introduced fifteen categories of exchange programs:
- Child Care Program (Au pair and EduCare)
- Camp Counselor Program
- Programs for college/university students (Exchange Student)
- Government Visitor Program
- Program for international visitors (International Visitor)
- Program for foreign doctors (Alien physician)
- The program for teachers (Professor)
- Research Program (Research Scholar)
- Short-term research program (Short-term Scholar)
- Program for Specialists
- Summer Student Travel Program
- High School Teacher Program
- Training Program (Trainee)
- Internship Program (Intern)
- Program for Secondary School Students
A category J visa is issued on the basis of a DS-2019 form received from a host in the United States. A “J” category visa does not allow exchange participants to legally extend their stay in the United States. A visa allows you to stay in the United States for 30 days after the end of the program – this is the so-called “grace period”.
Detailed information on visas of categories “J” You can find here.