A citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. If one is a student, he or she must have a student visa to study in the United States. The visa a student needs will depend on their age and type of study they wish to pursue. There are three different student visas that one could be issued: F1 Visa, J1 Visa or M1 Visa. The F1 and J1 visas allow a student the possibility of employment in the US during their stay, while the M1 Visa does not. The processing time for the US student visa depends on which country you are from.
For instance, larger countries have a huge number of student visa applications submitted every year and this may delay the process.
A significant step is to first apply and be accepted by a US school or university that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once accepted, the student will receive a Form I-20 from the institution's international student office, which is a paper record of their information in the database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The main documents required for a US student Visa are a valid passport, acceptance at an approved institution and your Form I-20, application fee payment for the SEVIS, non-immigrant visa application and the Form DS-160 confirmation page, and a photograph of the student in the requested format, and number. Some additional documents that might be required include academic preparation documents such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees or certificates, evidence that the student has sufficient funds to maintain their living expenses throughout the period of their stay in the US like bank statements or a scholarship. The student may also have to appear for a personal interview at the US embassy or consulate.
Students will have to go through five stages when applying for a US student visa. The first step is to apply to and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school in the US (six to twelve months prior to US study). The second step is to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee. The third step is to complete a US student visa application along with recent photo/photos. The fourth step is to pay the visa application fee. The fifth and final step is to schedule and attend a visa interview.