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Study in the USA for Overseas Students

International Students Considering Study in the USA

Do you qualify for a student visa M-1 or F-1

To qualify for an M-1 or F-1 you must first have been accepted at a school approved by the US Government. The student must come as a bona fide student pursuing a full course of study and the intended school programme MUST lead to an objective such as a degree, diploma or certificate.

The student must already be accepted by the school of your choice and have enough money to study full time without working. You MUST be able to speak, read and write English well enough to understand the course work or alternatively the school can offer special tutoring or instruction in your native tongue to overcome any language barriers. At every approved school there is a person on the staff known as the designated school official. The DSO is recognized by USCIS and consulates for dealing with foreign students.

Point of interest: if the student is planning to study a subject with international security implications such as bio-chemistry, nuclear physics etc and you are from a country on the US Governments list of supporters of TERRORISM then you will NOT get a student visa.

Student visas are issued only to students who will attend US Schools that have received prior approval from USCIS for enrolment of foreign students.

Virtually, all public and accredited private colleges have been approved. To become APPROVED the school MUST take the initiative and FILE a formal application with USCIS. If you do not plan to attend a public school or fully accredited college or university before you apply for either an F-1 or M-1 visa you should check to be sure that the school you have chosen has been APPROVED by USCIS.

Once the school has accepted you it will issue you with a certificate so that you can continue with the immigration application.

As a prospective student you can come to the USA as a tourist for the purpose of locating a school you want to attend. if you do this be sure to tell the consul at your B-2 visa interview that this is your intent so that he or she can make the appropriate annotation in your pasport e.g "Prospective student-school not yet selected" Otherwise USCIS will presume that you committed fraud by applying for a visitor visa when you intended to come to the US to study. USCIS will then refuse your application to convert to student status.

It is worth noting that Student visas are meant to be temporary. At the time of applying you MUST intend to return home when your studies are completed.

Family: When you qualify for an F-1 or M-1 visa your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can get F-2 and M-2 visas.Your school will have to issue seperate SEVIS forms I-20 for them. They will also have to provide proof of their family relationship to you e.g marriage and birth certificates and show that you have sufficient financial resources to support them in the USA. IMPORTANT - F-2 and M-2 visas authorize your relatives to stay with you in the USA but not your accepted employment. Family members may also enrol in elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade). They cannot enrol full time in a degree granting course without first obtaining their own visa.

How long will the student visa last

Both F-1 and M-1 entry visas are typically issued for the estimated length of time it will take to complete your studies. Consulates use their judgement in deciding the expiration date. More important when you arrive in the USA using a valid white card called an I-94 card a border officer will stamp the I-94 card with an expiration date as you enter the country. Normally the officer will stamp the I-94 card with D/S. This means you may remain in the US in student status for as long as it takes to complete your educational objectives.

There are specific rules:

  1. F-1 and M-1 students and their family members can arrive in the US up to 30 days before you start classes.

Quick view of the student visa application process

F-1 and M-1 is a 2 to 3 step process.

  1. First we apply to the school and once accepted the school fills out and sends a form known as a Certificate of Eligibility (SEVIS I-20). We will use this certificate in preparing the application for a student visa.
  2. We apply for either s student visa (if you are currently in another country) or for a change to student status (if you are in the US and eligible to change status from another visa.

If you have an F-1 or M-1 visa you are NOT barred from applying for a Green Card.

Go to assessment form for USA student eligibility.

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