If you are admitted to an academic institution or vocational program in the U.S., you will need to complete the application for an F-1 or M-1 visa to attend the school. This involves contacting the U.S. consulate in your area, compiling and submitting certain documents, and undergoing an interview with a consular officer. If you complete the requirements successfully, you will receive a visa stamp on your passport that will allow you to come to the U.S. The process takes time, so you may want to start contacting potential schools a year or more before you would attend them.
An educational institution must have an SEVP certification from the U.S. government to offer admission to foreign nationals. You can attend any private or public university and any private school in the U.S. By contrast, you cannot attend a public elementary or middle school, and you can attend only one year of a public high school, for which you will need to pay a fee. The school will get the immigration process started after you tell it that you plan to attend and pay any required deposit. This means that it will send you a completed copy of the Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility. You must include a paper copy of this form in your visa application.
The Application Process
The time period for filing a visa application extends until 120 days before the start date of your program. You should contact the closest U.S. consulate to your location and find out about the process that you need to follow. Sometimes a consulate will process an application efficiently if you go there in person, but other consulates will require an applicant to mail an application and may take weeks to review it.
To apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa, use the Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160), which is required for all non-immigrant visas. You can complete this form online. Also, you will need to have a photograph measuring two inches by two inches, which meets U.S. passport requirements, and you must have a passport that will remain valid for at least six months after the end of your stay in the U.S. You must pay certain fees associated with the application, which may be higher if your country requires U.S. students to pay for a visa to study there. (These fees increased as of June 24, 2019.) The application must include receipts to show that you have paid the necessary fees. In addition, you must provide evidence of any required academic credentials for the program in question. This may include diplomas, transcripts, and standardized test scores.
The U.S. consular officer will want to make sure that you will not get a job in the U.S. and that you will return to your home country after your program ends. As a result, you will need to provide documents showing that you can afford the costs of the program and any related living expenses, including the living expenses of any family members who will come with you. Bank statements, employer letters, any scholarship information, and a Form I-134 can accomplish this goal. To show the consular officer that you will go back to your home country, you will need to provide evidence of your physical, professional, and emotional ties to it. These may include home ownership or rental documents, an affidavit listing your family members in your home country, marriage or birth certificates, employer information, documents related to your career plans in your home country, and evidence of your return plane ticket. You might also submit a sworn statement about why you will return.