The Immigration and Nationally Act provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. The “F” visa is for academic studies, and the “M” visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies.
Changes in U.S. immigration law, effective November 30, 1996, require that no alien may be issued an F-1 visa to attend a U.S. public elementary or middle school (K-8). Any alien who wishes to attend public high school (grades 9-12) in the United States in student visa (F-1) status must submit evidence that the local school district has been reimbursed in advance for the unsubsidized per capita cost of the education. Also, attendance at U.S. public high schools cannot exceed a total of 12 months. Please note that these changes do not affect other visa categories such as the J-1 exchange visitor program or the qualified school-age child of an alien who holds another type of nonimmigrant visa (i.e., A, E, H, I, L, etc.).
No alien may be issued an F-1 visa in order to attend a publicly-funded adult education program.
The student visa applicant must have successfully completed a course of study normally required for enrollment. The student, unless coming to participate exclusively in an English language training program, must either be sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study, or the school must have made special arrangements for English language courses or teach the course in the student’s native language.
Applicants must also prove that sufficient funds are or will be available from an identified and reliable financial source to defray all living and school expenses during the entire period of anticipated study in the United States. Specifically, applicants must prove they have enough readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study, and that adequate funds will be available for each subsequent year of study. The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.
An applicant coming to the United States to study must be accepted for a full course of study by an educational institution approved by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS). The institution must send to the applicant a Form I-20 A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students. The nonacademic or vocational institution must send to the student a Form I-20 M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status For Vocational Students. Educational institutions obtain Forms I-20 A-B and I-20 M-N from the BCIS.
Visa Ineligibility / Waiver
The nonimmigrant visa application Form DS-156 lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a student, may apply for a waiver for ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved.
Applying for a Student Visa
Select Applying – Student Visas and review the section, When Do I Need to Apply for My Student Visa to find out very important information about timeframes for applying for your student visa.
Applicants for student visa should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to quality for the visa outside the country of permanent residence. U.S. Embassys and Consulates can be found by clicking HERE.
Each applicant for a student visa must pay a nonrefundable US $100 application fee and submit:
An application Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent’s passport. Blank forms are available without charge at all U.S. consular offices and on the Visa Services website under Visa Application Forms.
A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date as least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application;
One (1) 2x2 photograph. See the photo format explained in nonimmigrant photograph requirements.
For the “F” applicant, a Form I-20 A-B. For the “M” applicant, a Form I-20 M-N.
Evidence of sufficient funds.
Student visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they will depart the United States when they have completed their studies. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants’ circumstances vary greatly.
U.S. Port of Entry
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Directorate of Border and Transportation Security has authority to deny admission. Also, the period for which the bearer of an exchange visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States is determined by the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security, not the consular officer. At the port of entry, a Directorate of Border and Transportation Security official validates Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted.
ReEntry for F1 NonImmigrants Traveling outside the United States for five months or less
This applies to continuing F1 students who travel outside the U.S. for five months or less. Students should consult their Designated School Official (DSO Virginia Trujillo) prior to traveling. Your DSO generally works in the International Students Office. You must have a current SEVIS form I-20 endorsed for travel and your DSO needs to be able to verify that your SEVIS record is accurate and up-to-date.
An F-1 student may not accept off-campus employment at any time during their time of study at Evangel.
Expired Passport or one that will expire in less than six months
You must renew your passport before reentering the United States. In most cases, to enter the U.S. you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter or reenter.
Try to keep your passport current at all times. You need to determine your country’s requirements for renewing passports as well as the time it will take. Many countries will allow you to renew your passport while in the United States. The other alternative is to renew your passport when you return home for a visit.
You might want to delay leaving the U.S. until you have renewed your passport. You will not be able to reenter the U.S. without a valid passport.
If your expired passport has a valid visa, you can still use it if you kept the old passport. Present the old passport, along with the new passport when you reenter the country.
As a continuing student, will I need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee if I travel outside the U.S.?
Questions on how to obtain Forms I-10 A-B and I-20 M-N should be made to the educational institution. If the institution does not have the forms, you need to contact the local BCIS office. Questions on visa application procedures at the American consular offices abroad should be addressed to that consular office by the applicant.
General visa questions may be directed via email to the State Department. Due to the volume of inquires, Visa Services cannot promise an immediate reply. Inquiries on visa cases in progress overseas should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case.