Do I Need a Student Visa to Study in the USA?
By Brianna Burrows
Studying in the USA is a fantastic decision to further progress your education or career. For international students, many wonder if they need a student visa to study in the United States. There is no short answer to this question but in general, yes, you will need a visa to study in the USA.
Studying at a College, University or English Language Program:
If you plan to study full-time at a community college, college, university, or in an English language program you will need an F-1 student visa. If you are not studying full-time, you will not be eligible for an F-1 student visa. Once accepted, your school will give you a form called an I-20, which is the application for the F-1 visa. In addition to the F-1 student visa, you will need to complete a form called the DS-160 which is your Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
Vocational School or Other Recognized Non-Academic Institution:
If you plan to study full-time at a vocational school or other recognized non-academic institution you will need an M-1 student visa. If you are not studying full-time, you will not be eligible for an M-1 student visa. Once accepted, your school will give you a form, the I-20, which is the application for the M-1 visa. In addition to the M-1 student visa, you will need to complete a form called DS-160 which is your Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
Studying Short-Term or Part-Time at College, University, or English Language Program:
If you plan to study for a short period of time, six months or less, and your program is part-time and not for credit towards a degree, you can enter the U.S. with a B-2 Tourist visa. With a B-2 Tourist visa, you can enroll in any short-term recreational course, such as an ESL or IEP language course that is not for credit. When you are ready to visit the United States, you will need to complete a form called DS-160, which is required for the B-2 Tourist visa.
No matter which program you intend to complete, a visa is required to enter the United States. Many schools and language programs can assist you with the visa application process. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Brianna Burrows is a freelance marketing specialist and alumna of Northeastern University. She specializes in event management, social media management, and content branding. Follow her on Twitter here.
Get matched to the best program for you
Let us know what you're looking for so we can find the best school for you.
Check Out These Schools
Shoreline Community College
University of Illinois Chicago
$10,000 — $15,000 Year
The English Language Learning Center at Governors State University
Florida Institute of Technology
Typical cost per Semester: $40,000—$45,000
George Mason University
Typical cost per Semester: $35,000—$40,000
Arizona State University-Global Launch Intensive English Program
Typical cost per Session: $1,000—$5,000
Start your U.S. adventure with Study in the USA
Learn About U.S. education financing, housing, and more
Studying abroad is an invaluable step in your professional and personal growth. Prodigy Finance have helped fund over 20,000 master’s students to pursue their dreams at the best schools of the world.
IELTS for the USA
IELTS is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration. It is accepted by more than 3,400 institutions in the US. If you want to study in the US, IELTS can help you get there!
Student loan for international students? Yes, it is real!
MPOWER Financing is the top-rated lender offering international student loans without cosigners, collateral, or credit history for global citizens, PLUS international student scholarships & career coaching! Fully online application, 96% customer...
Study in the USA helped me apply to the University of Wyoming and in my journey towards studying in the USA. They guided me in writing essays, preparing for my SAT exams, interview tips, getting my visa...
Your agent has helped me by contacting the college and explaining what papers I need for submitting to college.
StudyUSA has allowed me to be accepted to one of the best universities in USA meaning I'm one step away to reaching my dream of studying in the USA.
Learn about American culture and education direct from our experts at Study in the USA. Read more