top of page

International Student Visa and Immigration Guide for Studying in the USA


Studying abroad in the USA is a coveted aspiration for many due to the life-changing prospects it brings. However, turning this dream into reality demands substantial dedication, especially in navigating the complexities of visas and immigration. Students often find this process to be intricate and exasperating. Bearing that in mind, we will now explore this subject in a more accessible manner.

International Student Visa and Immigration Guide for Studying in the USA

Type of Visa Required

To study in the United States, it is necessary to obtain a student visa. The type of visa you require, whether an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa, depends on your intended course of study and the school you plan to attend.

Essential Factors to Keep in Mind for Visa and Immigration Process

Below are key factors that should be prioritized to simplify the visa and immigration process.

1. Where to Apply?

Here is a general overview of the application process location.

  • Follow Embassy/Consulate Instructions:

The steps and sequence of the visa application process may differ depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is essential to refer to the specific instructions provided on their official website.

  • Complete the Online Visa Application:

Fill out the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, known as Form DS-160. Make sure to complete the application online and print the confirmation page for your interview. More details about completing the DS-160 can be found on the respective website.

  • Submit Your Photo:

During the online Form DS-160 completion, you must upload a photograph that meets the specified format outlined in the Photograph Requirements.

Please note that while this provides a general overview, it is essential to consult the instructions provided by the embassy or consulate for the most accurate information regarding the visa application process.

2. Necessary Documentation

  • A valid passport with a validity of at least six months beyond your planned stay in the United States. Separate visa applications are required for each individual listed in the passport unless exempted by agreements.

  • Confirmation page of your completed Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160.

  • Receipt of payment for the application fee, if applicable, paid before the interview.

  • A photo, either uploaded during the online Form DS-160 completion or a printed photo meeting the specified requirements, in case the upload fails.

  • For academic and language students (F-1 visa): Form I-20 or the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status. Your school will provide this form after entering your information into the SEVIS database. Both you and a school official must sign the Form I-20. SEVIS registration is mandatory for all students.

  • For vocational students (M-1 visa): Form I-20 or the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status. Your school will issue this form once your details are entered into the SEVIS database. Like the F-1 visa, you and a school official must sign Form I-20.

3. Student Visa Fees and Processing Time

Student Visa Fees

The Visa nonrefundable application fee is $160, and Indian students are not required to pay any visa insurance fee.

The specific student visa fees for studying in the USA are influenced by various factors such as the duration of your study program, the level of degree you are pursuing (Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D.), and your nationality. For accurate and detailed information about student visa fees, it is recommended to visit the official website of the American immigration authorities.

Student Visa Processing Time

The processing time for a student visa in the USA can vary depending on your application and visa category. On average, it may take anywhere from 3-5 weeks to 2-3 months. Generally, applicants applying for F-1 visas can expect faster processing times than other visa categories.

Once you receive a favorable response from the US visa consulate, the typical wait time to receive the physical copy of your visa is usually two to three days. It's important to note that F-1 visas are granted no earlier than 120 days before your US academic program starts.

4. Eligibility and Duration

Indian students aspiring to study in the USA can choose between two primary student visa options: the F-1 visa and the M-1 visa. Below, you will find the eligibility requirements and duration for each visa category:

1. F-1 Visa

  • Eligibility: To be eligible for an F-1 visa, you must receive acceptance from a U.S. educational institution recognized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). You must demonstrate your financial capability to cover tuition fees, living expenses, and return travel costs.

  • Duration: With an F-1 visa, you can stay in the United States throughout your academic program, including any authorized practical training (OPT) period. After completing your program, you typically have an additional 60 days to prepare for departure or apply for optional practical training.

2. M-1 Visa:

  • Eligibility: The M-1 visa is designed for students pursuing non-academic or vocational programs. To be eligible, you must be enrolled in a SEVP-approved American vocational school. Demonstrating financial capability to cover your educational and living expenses is essential.

  • Duration: The M-1 visa allows you to stay in the USA for the duration of your vocational training and an extra 30 days for departure.


To pursue studies in the USA, it is crucial to obtain a student visa and navigate the immigration process diligently and in strict adherence to regulations. Enhancing the likelihood of visa approval involves adhering to instructions provided by the embassy or consulate, completing the required documentation accurately, and fulfilling the necessary financial obligations. Understanding the processing timelines, eligibility criteria, and durations associated with the F-1 and M-1 visa categories is essential. By grasping these vital factors and seeking reliable information from reputable sources, students can confidently embark on their educational journey in the USA.

We know and understand that the application process can be overwhelming, so we are here for you. The study abroad experts at Hello Study Global are there for you every step of the way. From preparing for entrance exams to college applications, we will guide you to success.

Feel free to reach us at Hello Study Global.

7 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All