F-1, or Student Visa
This student visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. A student visa is for people who want to study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.
J-1, or Exchange Visitor.
This visa is for people who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs.
M-1, or Student Visa.
This student visa is for those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training at an institution in the U.S.
Applying for a Student Visa or Exchange Visitor Visa
In order to apply for a student visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate, you must first have a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)-generated document (either an I-20 or DS-2019) issued by a U.S. college or university or Department of State-designated sponsor organization. You will be required to submit this form when you apply for a student visa. The U.S. academic institution or program sponsor will provide you with the appropriate SEVIS-generated form only when you have been academically admitted to the institution or accepted as a participant in an exchange program. The institution or program sponsor will also send you additional information about applying for the appropriate student visa, as well as other guidance about beginning your academic program in the United States. (For more information about SEVIS, see below.)
Once you have all the student visa documentation that is required, you may apply for the visa, even if you do not intend to begin your program of study for several months. It is best to apply early for the student visa to make sure that there is sufficient time for visa processing.
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