We are your Bridge, Reasonable, Reliable & ReassuringTM
: :   NJ (732) 354-4700
  PA (215) 853-8940
Practice Areas
  Temporary Work in USA
  Extraordinary Ability EB-1
  National Interest Waiver
  Green Card
  US Citizenship
  Health Care Professionals
  Consular Matter
  Immigration Links
  Student Visa
  Visitor/ Business Visa
  AC21 Portability
  Immig Law FAQs
  Compliance Audits
Some areas of our website are still under construction.
Visa Bulletin Case Processing Time Fees Sreepad's Blog
Practice Areas > Student Visa
Studying in USA, Student Visa Basics (F, M)
In general, for academic students attending a SEVP certified university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory orother academic institutions, including a language training program, an F visa is the appropriate category. For students attending vocational or other recognized nonacademic institutions, other than a language training program, an M visa is generally the appropriate category.

If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study that is recreational, and the course is less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do so on a visitor(B) visa. If your course of study is 18 hours or more a week, you will need a student visa. When traveling to the U.S. to attend seminars, conferences or a program of study for academic credit then you will need a student visa.
How soon or late one can apply for a student visa?
Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample time for visa processing. Students may apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to do so.
Students should note that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your student visa 120 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date. If you apply for your visa more than 120 days prior to your start date or registration date as provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa. Consular officials will use that extra time for application processing.
Students are advised of the DHS regulation which requires that all initial or beginning students enter the U.S. 30 days or less inadvance of the course of study start/report date as shown on the Form I-20. One should consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S.
A beginning student who wants an earlier entry into the U.S. (more than 30 days prior to the course start date), must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa. A prospective student notation will be shown on his/her visitor visa and the traveler will need to make the intent to study clear to the U.S. immigration inspector at port of entry. Before beginning any studies, he or she must apply for and obtain approval for a change to Exchange Visitor status. Please note that one cannot begin studies until the change of classification is approved.
Continuing students may apply for a new visa at any time, as long as they have been maintaining student status and their SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may also enter the U.S. at any time before their classes start.
SEVP and SEVIS Explained:
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors. Exchange visitor and student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) which is an internet based system.

Applying for a Student Visa
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate.

During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer. See the Consular issues tab for more information on administrative processing.

Spouses and Children of Student Visa Holders
Applicants with dependents must also provide:
arrow Proof of the student's relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.);
arrow It is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder's passport and visa, along with all other required documents.
Entering the United States at Port of Entry (POE)
Student visitors must have their Form I-20 in their possession each time they enter the United States. Upon arrival (at an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), you will been rolled in the US-VISIT entry-exit program. If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (FormI-94). Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the U.S., it's very important to keep in your passport.

Required Documents for Returning Students
All applicants applying for renewals must submit:
arrow All items listed in the Required Documentation section and;
arrow A new I-20 or an I-20 that has been endorsed on the back by a school official within the past 12 months.
Students Away from Classes for more than five months
Students in or outside the U.S., who have been away from classes for more than five months, will likely need a new visa to enter the U.S.

Length of Stay on Student Visa
When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visain your passport expires while you are in the United States. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departure:
arrow F-1 student - An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.
arrow M-1 student - An additional 30 days to depart the U.S. (Fixed time period, in total not to exceed one year). The 30 days to prepare for departure is permitted as long as the student maintained a full course of study and maintained status. An M student may receive extensions up to three years for the total program.
As an example regarding duration of status, if you have a visa that is valid for five years that will expire on January 1, 2009, and you are admitted into the U.S. for the duration of your studies (often abbreviated in your passport or on your I-94 card as "D/S"), you may stay in the U.S. as long as you are a full time student. Even if January 1, 2009 passes and your visa expires while in the U.S., you will still be in legal student status. However, if you depart the United States with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one, applying at an Embassy abroad, before being able to return to the U.S. and resume your studies.
information provided here is of general nature and should not be constructed as legal advice.matters in personal historyor a perticular situation may affect eligibility to recive immigration benfits in a perticular situation.Information is updated peroidically and may not be current at all time.