The following items are required from all applicants for a student visa.
Acceptance form (I-20)
Before applying for an international student visa, the applicant must be accepted by a school or institution approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The student can find out directly from the school whether it has that approval. If the student is applying for the F-1 visa, the institution must send the applicant a Form I-20A-B, (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant [F-1] Student Status for Academic and Language Students). If the student is applying for the M-1 visa, the institution must send the applicant a Form I-20M-N (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant [M-1] Student Status for Vocational Students). All four pages of the I-20 form must be submitted with the application. The form must also be signed by the applicant and by a school official in the appropriate places.
Each applicant for a student visa must pay a nonrefundable application fee. Contact the consular office to find out the current amount of the fee.
Each applicant must submit a Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156, completed and signed. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent's passport. Free blank forms are available at all US embassies and consulates. A copy of the form can also be obtained online from the US State Department website.
Each applicant must have a passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date that extends at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person applying for a visa must make a separate application.
Each applicant must provide one photograph 1 and 1/2 inches square (37x37mm), showing full face, without head covering, against a light background.
Evidence of financial resources
Applicants must provide evidence that shows they (or their parents who are sponsoring them) have sufficient funds to cover their tuition and living expenses during the intended period of study. Applicants or sponsors who are salaried employees should bring income tax documents and original bank statements. There are plenty of online tax return calculators available online. Applicants or sponsors who own a business should bring business registration, licenses, and tax documents, as well as original bank statements. For more information on financial requirements, see the Financial proof section.
A student's spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 also can apply for visas to come with the student to the US. Applicants who wish to bring dependents with them to the US must also provide marriage and/or birth certificates as proof of the relationship with his spouse and/or children.
In addition, student applicants may also be asked to provide:
- Transcripts and diplomas from schools they have attended.
- Scores from standardized tests required by the US school such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.