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To Attend American Universities, Student Visas and Passports Are Necessary

By Peterson's Staff updated on Sunday, January 27, 2013

To attend American universities and colleges, students must first get permission to enter the country. To do so, they must meet certain requirements. They must be healthy, law abiding, financially self-sufficient, and prepared to leave once they have completed their studies.

To attend American colleges, international students must apply for a visa

The rules and regulations governing the entrance of international students into the U.S. for study at U.S. colleges are somewhat complicated. To be sure there is enough time to get everything ready, begin your applications to U.S. colleges and your visa application process as early as possible. Because world events may cause changes in some procedures, so you should always check for current requirements.

If you are not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you must submit to the U.S. consular authorities a Form I-20 for an F-1 or M-1 student visa, or Form DS-2019 for a J-1 exchange visitor visa. You must also provide a valid passport from your home country.

The F-1 and J-1 are the most commonly used visas by international students attending colleges in the U.S. F-1 visas are for full-time students in an academic or language program. J-1 visas are for people participating in an exchange visitor program (educational or cultural) in the U.S. M-1 visas are for students attending trade or vocational programs at a U.S. college.

The I-20 or DS-2019 forms will be sent from your college after you have been admitted to a full-time academic program at the U.S.A. university and have demonstrated that you have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses. Before granting the entrance visa, American consular officers may request additional information. They must be convinced that you are a student who plans to return to your home country upon completion of the program.

Don't forget that you need a valid passport to attend a U.S. college

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the amount of time you plan to spend in the U.S. It is a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place. Having the photocopy will make it easier to replace your passport if you happen to lose it. If you do lose your passport, you should contact the police and your embassy immediately.

If you have any questions about matters related to immigration rules, work permits, health insurance, etc., you should check with the international student adviser at the U.S. college you plan to attend. It is your responsibility, however, to maintain your immigration status by obtaining your forms at the correct time, keeping your passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of completion of your program, and maintaining enrollment with a full course load at your U.S.A. university.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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