Foreign nationals wishing to pursue an education in the United States, whether academic or vocational, must first acquire a student visa before doing do. Generally there are two classifications of student visas that also referred to as the F and M visas. The student visas described under this section, F and M, can be granted to persons who intent to:
- Pursue an “academic” program, this can be a language-training program, a vocational program; or a formal education such as an AA, BS, BA, and other graduate degrees; Under F and M classification a student can start an education program from a community college and remain on the same visa ultimately until lets say he or she receives and PhD;
- The school where the student intends to purse to education must be approved by USCIS;
- The student must be a full-time student;
- Because the language of instruction is English in the U.S. the student must either be proficient in English, or enroll in language classes;
- The student must be able to provide evidence that he will financially be able to support himself; and
- Because these visas are non-immigrant in nature, the student must have no intention of abandoning his residence abroad.
There are no quota restrictions. Applications filed at consulates were formerly approved within one or two days, but now added security procedures mean that you should expect a wait of two or three months. Applications filed in the U.S. are approved within a few months.
As a prospective student, you can come to the U.S. as a tourist for the purpose of locating a school you want to attend. If you do this, however, be sure to tell the consul at your interview that this is your intent so that s/he can make the appropriate annotation in your passport (such as “Prospective Student—school not yet selected”). Otherwise the USCIS may presume that you committed fraud by applying for a visitor visa when you intended to come to the U.S. to study. The USCIS will then refuse your application to convert to student status.
Having an immigration attorney prepare your student visa case is advisable due to the complex nature of immigration law. Please contact us for your free consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer.