US Student Visa – Types, Ways to Acquire

What is a US student visa? Like in Israel, foreign citizens who wish to study at an academic institution in the United States (high school, university, vocational school, etc.) must obtain a special visa. Foreign citizens who hold a B-2 tourist visa are not eligible to enroll in for-credit academic programs. Studying illegally in the United States can pose serious risks, including revoking a tourist visa, a multi-year bar of re-entry, or even a possible revocation of a visa waiver for otherwise eligible foreign nationals (such as ESTA). 

Types of student visa

Generally, a student in the United States will obtain an F-1, J-1, or M-1 visa. Most universities will issue either an F-1 or J-1 visa, with F-1 being the most common status. The J-1 visa is most common for student exchange programs (such as Fulbright) or some specific degree programs. The M-1 visa is much more rare and is reserved exclusively for technical and vocational schools. High school students wishing to do an exchange year in the United States at a public high school generally must do so through an established exchange program (such as AFS or YFU) and will be issued a J-1 visas. Private high schools may issue F-1 visas.

What should I do if I want to study in US?

Generally, the first step is to be accepted to a program in the United States. You cannot apply for a US student visa before being accepted. Most colleges and universities have specific international offices that assist in the process for obtaining a visa, and will contact you after your acceptance. Other programs, such as Fulbright, also have offices to deal specifically with visa matters. Once in communication with the program, you will receive paperwork- the form I-20 for the F-1 or M-1 visa, or the form DS-2019 for the J-1 visa-and you will need to schedule a consular interview at your assigned US Embassy or Consulate. Following this interview, you will usually receive your visa.

Can I bring my family with me?

Yes. For each visa, there exists a dependent visa, which can be issued to your spouse and/or children. For the F-1, J-1, and M-1 visas respectively, these are the F-2, J-2, and M-2 visas. Dependents are generally able to study in the United States (such as at a local elementary school) and can often obtain work authorization, but this depends on the specific visa.

When should I contact an immigration attorney? 

If you want to obtaining a US student visa but you have a criminal background (in the US or your home country), a history of US immigration violations, or experience aconsular interview, it is best to contact an experienced immigration lawyer. We will be happy to assist you in overcoming any difficulties in obtaining a student visa.

Contact our law firm specializing in immigration issues to the United States, if you want to study, work, or live in the United States.

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