The world’s most coveted institutes in the world to pursue graduate and post-graduate courses in the world are in the United States. An increasing number of students from India are going to the US to pursue their higher education, be it MBA, MS or some other course. Once the student secures admission in the university of their choice, the next step is to obtain their visa.

Types of Visa

There are three types of student visas to the US:

F1 – Student Visa

  1. Students applying for a program which requires more than 18 hours of study in a week require an F1 visa. This includes all undergraduate programs as well as graduate programs like MS, MBA etc.
  2. Spouses or children accompanying F-1 visa recipients have to travel on an F-2 visa. One must note that spouses are not able to work but may accompany and/or apply for their own visa to the U.S. to work or study.
  3. The total cost for F1 visa is $200 + $160.

Documents required for F1 visa are:

  • Valid Passport
  • Printed copy of DS-160, the online application form
  • Interview appointment letter (original and copy)
  • Form I-20 sent by the college
  • Visa fees payment confirmation receipt
  • Bank statement for at least three years showing that you have enough assets to pay for the first year (could be of parent or guardian)
  • Pay slips
  • Original mark sheets/provisional certificates
  • Score sheet of exams like TOEFL, IELTS, etc.

How to apply 

  1. Thevisa process starts when the student receives Form I-20 from the college. Though the student can pay the SEVIS fee anytime during the application, it is strongly recommended that the student pays the SEVIS I-901 fee before they start their US visa application
  1. After paying the SEVIS fee and getting a receipt, the student can apply for a DS-160 visa form.
  2. Print the application form confirmation page to bring to the interview.
  1. Schedule a biometric appointment and interview appointment.


J1 – Exchange Visa Visitor

  1. The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa is for students, visiting scholars or lecturers pursuing an exchange program. For example, Fulbright scholars and many students on short-term study abroad programs from Indian universities travel to the U.S. on a J-1 visa.
  2. J1 visa is usually sought by working professional who go to America on an exchange program, hence the name Exchange Visitor Visa. These may include a 10-month vocational training or some research fellowship, etc. Whichever be the case, the applicants would be notified for the same by the respective institutions.
  3. Spouses or children accompanying J-1 Visa recipients will travel on a J-2 Visa. Please note that spouses are able to work when permission is obtained in advance.

Can a student work on study visa?

During the first year of studies, students cannot accept off-campus employment. Students cannot work more than 20 hours per week. During holidays and breaks, the student may work up to 40 hours per week. The student can work for a commercial firm that provides services to the college, such as a bookstore or cafeteria.

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