Who Can Apply for a Student Visa?
Education is perhaps the most powerful tool available to people around the globe – it is a universal key to opportunity, cultural experience, growth, and transformation. Every year, thousands of people hope to attend schools or attain further training in the United States (U.S.). Luckily, student visas allow for this type of experience, opening the doors for countless students, trainees, and other learners.
But who exactly is eligible for student visas? What are the basic requirements for applications? And what types of student visas are available? In today’s article, we answer these questions for you.
At Davis & Associates, we help guide and prepare student visa applications. For your convenience, our consultations are always free. If you are unsure if you qualify for a student visa, or plan to come to the U.S. for an educational opportunity, don’t leave it to chance. Contact us today!
Student Visa Requirements
While applicants for a student visa must adhere to standard visa specifications, there is an additional requirement that candidates must meet. Any person applying for consideration for an F or M student visa must also have already been accepted to an SEVP-approved school, institution, or other organization. This organization will provide essential paperwork for the student’s application (F or M visas).
Students applying for J student visas will need their organization to act as a sponsor during their application, so acceptance to any program must also be arranged ahead of time. We discuss more about differences between student visa types below.
What does “SEVP-approved” mean? When a school or other institution is “SEVP-approved,” it has been reviewed and vetted by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP). For a list of SEVP-approved schools and institutions, visit its online locator.
For a plethora of information regarding student visa requirements and options, visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Types of Student Visas
There are three types of student visas: J visas, M visas, and F visas. Each visa is available to a slightly different class of learners. Below we discuss each in detail.
Please note that all student visas are “nonimmigrant” visas. This means that they are temporary and contingent upon a student’s course of study or exchange experience. Once the educational experience has completed, visa holders typically have 30-60 calendar days to exit the U.S. and return home.
The most popular type of student visa, F visas allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to study at universities. They also allow exchange students to study at American high schools and private elementary schools. To apply for an F visa, a student must first be accepted into an SEVP-approved university or exchange program. After that, the institution would work with the visa applicant to provide the necessary application documentation (Form I-20).
As a note, F visas are also available to students attending specialty language programs and seminary.
Finally, family members of F-1 visa holders can come to the U.S. with them. These include spouses and unmarried children under 21, who would be eligible for F-2 visas.
J visas are a unique type of student visa, available to those in specific and specialized exchange programs. Types of experiences allowed under J visas include work-study programs, apprenticeships, and research fellowships. The USCIS lists common J visa recipients: visiting professors, au pairs, research or graduate assistants or fellows, and camp counselors. According to the USCIS, the J visa program is intended to “promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.”
Applicants seeking J visas must have a sponsoring organization. This organization would be whatever institution was facilitating the training or exchange experience. In order to initiate their application, J visa candidates would request a Form DS-2019 through their sponsoring agency. This form must be submitted with the standard visa application.
In conclusion, family members of J-1 visa holders can come to the U.S. with them. These include spouses and unmarried children under 21, who would be eligible for J-2 visas.
Finally, M visas are the most restrictive student visa class. In fact, utilization is largely limited to those attending vocational training programs. Other “non-academic” training programs, excluding language programs, are also eligible. The SEVP must approve any participating institution.
Family members of M-1 visa holders can come to the U.S. with them. These include spouses and unmarried children under 21, who would be eligible for M-2 visas.
Contact a Dallas Student Visa Attorney Today
If you or a loved one hope to study in the U.S., a student visa unlocks the door. While such an opportunity is no doubt exciting, it also involves complicated application procedures with little room for error. Because of this, your best ally is a qualified and professional immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can help you organize your application, discuss expectations during your visa interview, and help ensure that your application is accurate and timely.
Davis & Associates is the premier immigration firm in Dallas, Texas. We serve Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Miami and strive to help clients achieve their dreams. No matter your immigration concern, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation. You’ll talk one-on-one with one of our expert attorneys and leave with a path forward. We can help – call us today!