Everything you need to know about the US student visa

The United States welcomes international students who come to study in the country. The American educational system provides flexible and organised courses designed with the student's best interests in mind.

To study in the United States, you must first get a student visa. All candidates must be accepted and authorised by US universities before applying for a student visa.

Once accepted by US educational institutions, each candidate will be provided with the relevant permission papers to be submitted. All student visa candidates must be recognised and authorised by their school or programme before applying for a visa.

Student Visas in the United States

In the United States, there are numerous types of student visas available.

Visa Type - F-1

The F1 visa is the most frequent form of student visa in the United States.

An F-1 visa is required if you want to study in the United States at an approved institution, such as a recognised U.S. college or university, a private secondary school, or an approved English language programme. If your course of study exceeds 18 hours per week, you will require an F-1 visa.

Spouses and children of F-1 visa holders will travel on an F-2 visa. Please remember that spouses are not permitted to work but may accompany and seek their visa to the United States to work or study.

J-1 Visa for Exchange Visitors

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is intended primarily for students participating in an exchange programme. 
Working professionals on exchange programmes are also likely to choose the J1 Visa. As a result, the visa is known as an Exchange Visitor Visa. 
The study period with a J1 Visa might last up to ten months. This would mainly assist students who are interested in conducting research. Spouses and children accompanying J-1 Visa holders will travel on a J-2 Visa.

Please keep in mind that spouses can work if permission is secured ahead of time. 

To learn more about the J1 visa type, read here

M-1 Non-Academic/Vocational Student Visa

If you wish to undertake non-academic or vocational study or training at a U.S. institution, you'll need an M-1 visa.

The sole distinction is that M1 visas are time-stamped, and students are not permitted to overstay. M-1 Visas are granted to those seeking non-academic degrees to advance their careers.

To know more about the M1 visa type, have a look here!

Recent update

Beginning November 8, the United States relaxed pandemic restrictions for fully immunised individuals. 

The White House declared that fully vaccinated overseas tourists would be permitted to travel to the United States by air and land beginning November 8, 2021. All immunisations recommended by the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration, according to US health officials, would be accepted for flight passengers.

Visa Charges

There are two costs involved with obtaining a student visa in the United States.

  • The SEVIS charge is now $350. (INR 26,256)
  • The Visa Application Fee (MRV Fee), which is now $160 (INR 12,003)

Here is a breakdown of the many types of Student Visas.

Types of VisaSEVIS FeeVisa Application Fee

Accepted mode of payment for the SEVIS fee

  • Credit Card.
  • Money Order/ Demand Draft.
  • Payable in US dollars at the bank's prevailing exchange rate.

Accepted mode of payment for Visa application fee

  • NEFT Online Transfer.
  • Instant Money Transfer by Mobile - IMPS.
  • Can be paid in Payable in INR at the Exchange Rate Fixed by the Consular Office.

Here's a quick rundown of the visa application procedure. Continue reading!

1. Apply to a SEVP-approved institution.

To begin, know about the list of universities that are part of the SEVP programme. 

Choose an institution and a course approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program of the United States government. Because the United States lacks a centralised university application system, you will need to send your applications to each university independently, taking into account the admissions standards of each institution.

After you get your admission letter from the institution, you will be enrolled in the SEVIS system. If you are eligible for an F or M visa, you will receive a SEVIS-generated document called Form I-20, and if you are eligible for a J visa, you will receive Form DS-2019.

2. Make SEVIS payment 

Before applying for your US visa, you should pay the SEVIS fee at least three days before your application.

You can pay it either online or in person. Fill in the needed information precisely as it appears on your I-20 or DS-2019 form.

It is preferable to save a copy of the payment confirmation from the website once you have completed your purchase.

3. Apply for a student visa to the United States.

The DS-160 form is used to apply for a student visa in the United States. 

This DS-160 form must be completed online. Make sure you have all of the necessary papers and information to fill out the visa application form. 

After completing the form, make a note of your application ID. You'll need this ID to access your information at any time. 

Details needed to complete your DS-160 form

  • Name and birthdate.
  • Phone number and address.
  • Passport information.
  • Specifics about your study travel plans.
  • Your point of contact.
  • Details about family, employment, and education.
  • Information about security, background, and medical health.
  • Study Course in which you wish to register (as printed on I-20 or DS-2019 form).

Take great care in answering all of the form's questions.

The answers must be correct. Because any inaccuracies or discrepancies in the information provided may impact the interview process, and you may have to reschedule it.

After completing the form, you must electronically sign it by clicking the "Sign Application" button. After the final application, a confirmation page with a barcode, barcode number, and application ID number will be sent. You should take a copy of that confirmation document with you to your visa interview.

4. Submission of the visa application fee

The visa application cost is known as the Machine Readable Visa (MRV). It is a government-mandated visa processing cost that must be paid whether or not your visa is issued. The MRV charge is non-transferable and non-refundable, and the receipt created after paying the MRV fee is referred to as the MRV Receipt number.

Methods of payment for the application fee:

  • In-person at an approved bank.
  • Using your phone.
  • Online (you must print your receipt).

5. Arrange and attend your US visa interview

Attending the visa interview is the final step in obtaining a visa.

You may book your interview online, or you can call your local US embassy or consulate to make arrangements. Remember that you must pay the MRV charge before reserving an interview time since you will be asked for your MRV fee number.

After receiving your SEVIS form and paying the SEVIS fee, you can schedule an appointment with the US consulate or embassy to apply for a US student visa. Visa processing periods may vary from time to time. As a result, it's essential to apply as soon as possible.

Here is a checklist to help you stay on track for your US Visa Application I-20 certificate.

  • Admission letter from the institute.
  • Academic certifications and TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, or LSAT test scores.
  • Form DS-160.
  • A valid passport.
  • Two passport-sized photos.
  • MRV fee.
  • Receipt of the SEVIS fee payment.

After completing the successful application procedure, you will be required to attend your Visa Interview.

Documentation needed for the Student Visa interview

  • Page DS-160.
  • A valid passport.
  • If you are an F or M visa holder, you will need an appointment letter from the university, a SEVIS receipt, and an I-20 form.
  • If you are a J Exchange student, you will need a SEVIS receipt and a DS-2019.

 To know more about getting a student visa, read on here!


After graduation, F1 Student Visa holders are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT (optional practical training).

That implies you'll be able to work for a year after finishing your education. 
It is a temporary work permit that allows students to obtain practical experience in their subject of study.

If you want to continue working in the US, you'll need to apply for a work visa. Even if you don't have a job offer or haven't applied for OPT, you can stay in the US for up to 60 days after completing your study in the US course.

Have doubts about how to clear the student visa interview? Read on to get a glimpse of it here! 

Helpful Tips for Your Student Visa Interview

  • Put on a business suit or a dress.
  • When responding to queries, be specific.
  • Bring your bank statements or evidence of employment with you.
  • Give specifics about your study intentions.
  • Maintain your composure while remaining professional.

Visa Interview Questions Examples

  • Why did you choose to study in the United States rather than work in your own country?
  • What are your exam results (GRE, GMAT, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS), GPA?
  • Will you return home after graduation, or will you stay in the United States?

You must observe the following guidelines when studying in the United States:

  • You must attend and pass all of your exams.
  • If you are having difficulty with your academics, you should contact your designated school official (DSO) right away.
  • If you think that is unable to finish your course by the date specified on your Form I-20, contact your DSO and request a programme extension.
  • You must finish a whole course of study each term. If you are unable to study full-time, please notify your DSO immediately.
  • You are not permitted to drop a complete course of study without first discussing it with your DSO.


Q. What Happens If My Visa Application Is Rejected?

If you do not fulfill the student visa criteria for the United States and your visa application is refused, the decision is final, and you will not be able to appeal. 

The good news is that you may reapply and request a waiver of ineligibility. 
If you are refused a student visa to the United States, you must find out why.

For example, if you are refused because you cannot demonstrate that you have the financial means to pay for your education, you will know what you need to change the next time. Many visas are refused because the requisite paperwork for a US student visa is missing or incomplete.

Q. How long is a student visa in the USA?

F1 students can stay in the US for up to 60 days after finishing their academic programme unless they have applied for and been granted to stay and work for a time period under the OPT Program.

M1 - This is a non-immigrant permit with a one-year validity period. However, students may ask for an extension of up to three years.

M1 Visa holders can only study part-time under certain conditions and for a maximum of six months.

Q. How many years is an f1 visa valid for?

F-1 student visas are typically valid for five years from the beginning of your study. 

Q. Is it hard to get a US student visa?

It is not difficult to obtain a student visa for the United States, but you must adhere to all student visa regulations for the United States and allow plenty of time to complete and submit your documentation.