The United States is world-renowned for its top-tier education system and its premier universities and colleges. Fortunately, students of nearly all ages may apply for academic visas to study in the U.S. Whether you are a parent who wants your child to attend a private school for grades K-12 in the U.S., or if you’re a recent high school graduate looking to attend one of America’s top universities, we can help you achieve your goals for a brighter future!
The most common type of student visa is the F-1 visa for academic study and language training, which is issued to international students for the duration of their program of study and may be extended as long as the student continues to meet academic and statutory requirements. F-1 students may earn more than one degree and may transfer to different programs or institutions while maintaining F-1 status. This type of student visa is available for students who wish to attend SEVIS approved private school for grades K-12, community colleges, universities, PhD programs, test-prep courses for the US Medical Licensing Exams (USMLE), language training programs, and more!
F-1 students may apply for F-2 visas for their spouse and children under 21 years of age. F-1 students may work limited hours at on-campus jobs with prior approval but may not work off-campus without demonstrating extreme financial hardship. Optional practical training (OPT) work permits are also available for some students who meet certain program requirements.
Other types of academic visas include the M-1 visa for non-academic and vocational studies and the J-1 exchange visitor visa. Please contact our office to assist you in determining which type of student visa is right for you!
F-1 Academic Student Visa (K-12)
Students in kindergarten through high school may study in the U.S. at any private school that has been approved by the U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Visit the SEVP school locator website to find an approved school that’s right for your child.
Generally, K-12th grade students must first have their foreign school records evaluated by the private school of their choice to determine their grade level and testing is sometimes required.
Students must then be apply and be accepted by the school, complete the enrollment process, pay tuition and be issued an I-20 Form, which is required before applying for the F-1 visa.
Parents and siblings may apply for visitor visas to visit the F-1 student while they are enrolled in school but parents and siblings are not eligible for F-2 visas.
F-1 Academic Student (Higher Education)
High school graduates, college students and students who wish to pursue graduate or doctoral degrees may study at any college or university that has been approved by the U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Visit the SEVP school locator website to find an approved institution that’s right for you.
F-1 visas are also available for SEVP approved language training programs such as intensive English language courses.
F-1 students must apply to a qualifying course of study, get accepted, enroll and be issues an I-20 before applying for the visa, and may apply for F-2 visas for their spouse and children under 21 years of age.
F-1 students may work limited hours at on-campus jobs with prior approval but may not work off-campus without demonstrating extreme financial hardship. Optional practical training (OPT) work permits are also available for some students who meet certain program requirements.
M-1 Vocational Student Visa
Student visas are not limited to academic courses of study. The M-1 visa for vocational training is an ideal option for students who would like to enroll in training classes, certificate courses, and licensing programs.
Common M-1 training programs include , and cosmetology school, cooking classes, technical courses, mechanical classes, and flight school. Visit the SEVP school locator website to find an approved institution that’s right for you.
Each SEVP institution has different eligibility requirements, depending on the program type. To begin the M-1 visa application process, applicants should contact the school of choice, be accepted and complete the enrollment process, then receive the required I-20 form before applying for the M-1 visa.
J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa & J-1 Waivers
The J-1 visa program allows several types of exchange visitors to live and work in the U.S. J-1 visa categories include Au Pairs, camp counselors, trainees, researchers, students, visiting physicians, professors, scholars and interns.
J-1 visas require a sponsor, which is an agency or program, which facilitates the pairing of a J-1 applicant with an appropriate program or course.
J-1 visa programs range from a few weeks to several years in duration and most include a restriction called the “two-year rule,” which requires J-1 visa holders to return to their home country for at least two years after the completion of their J-1 exchange program. This requirement may be waived in certain circumstances.
Waivers of the two year rule may be granted if a J-1 visitor can provide a no-objection letter from their home country, demonstrate that they would experience persecution in their home country, or provide evidence that returning to their home country would result in extreme hardship to a US citizen immediate relative. In addition, a waiver may be granted to a limited number of doctors each year, who work in areas of the U.S. which are experiencing shortages in trained medical staff.
For more information, please visit the U.S. Dept. of State’s Exchange Visitor Program website.