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EducationVarious types of student visa for studying in US

Various types of student visa for studying in US

Published: 13th Jun 2021 12:04 am | Updated: 12th Jun 2021 11:10 pm

In our series on EducationUSA’s Five Steps to US university applications for master’s programmes, we have so far discussed ‘Step 1. Research your options,’ ‘Step 2. Finance your studies,’ and ‘Step 3. Complete your

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Once students receive admission offers for master’s programmes at US institutions, they go through the student visa application process, or ‘Step 4 – Apply for your student visa.’ As readers may already know, international students intending to pursue their education in the United States must obtain a US student visa. Most non-US citizens who wish to study in the United States will seek an F-1 student visa, but there are other non-immigrant visa types that are sometimes authorised for those who study in the United States. Here is a short description of the different types of visas for US study:

• F-1 or Student Visa: This visa is the most common for those who wish to engage in academic studies in the United States. It is for people who want to study at an accredited US college or university or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute.

• J-1 or Exchange Visitor: This visa is for people who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the United States. The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programmes.

• M-1 or Student Visa: This visa is for those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training at an institution in the United States.

For more information on different student visa categories, readers may check the website:

Once the student has accepted the offer of admission from a US university/college, s(he) will receive an I-20 document from the institution. A student should then follow the steps below to apply for the student visa:

Step 1: Pay SEVIS Fee online at

Step 2: Complete the DS-160 or the visa form on website, after selecting the region and country and then creating a user account.

Step 3: Pay the visa application fees via NEFT or mobile phone or cash at Axis Bank or Citibank.

Step 4: Schedule an appointment for biometrics collection at the Visa Application Center (VAC) and then for a visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate.

For complete information regarding how to apply for student visas, please access the EducationUSA student visas fact sheet available at:

Students should note that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the US Embassy and Consulates in India have temporarily suspended non-emergency visa services. However, they remain committed to student visa applicants, and will resume student visa interviews as soon as conditions allow. Facilitating legitimate student travel to the United States remains a top priority for the US Mission to India. Students may write to for specific queries and follow the Facebook and Twitter accounts of The US Embassy India for further updates. Applicants should monitor our website,, for appointment availability. The Visa FAQs may be accessed at

Next week we will continue our discussion on other aspects of visa appointments, SEVIS fees, and related processes.

— Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the US – India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad)


Q. What is the best time to apply for PhD programmes in the United States and what does the application process involve?
— Prakash Rao

A. The ideal time to apply for a PhD programmes in the United States is during the first semester of the second year of the master’s programme if the candidate plans to start the program right after the master’s degree. If applying during the bachelor’s programme, first semester of final year is the right time to send the application.

The application process to PhD programmes at US universities involves an online application, standardised test (GRE/GMAT) and English proficiency scores, transcripts, statement of purpose (SOP), letters of recommendations, curriculum vitae or resume, and financial documents. Administering standardised tests and putting together all application components is a long process. So, 1-2 years in advance of the PhD programme start date is a good time for candidates to start planning for the US PhD degree application. Applicants should also plan registration for the standardised and English proficiency tests as not all of these tests are offered year-round and each test round has limited seats available.

Q. I am currently in 1st year of my bachelor’s program in India. What is the eligibility criteria to transfer to a US institution?
— Gaurav

A. There are certain eligibility criteria that a student needs to meet for the transfer process to a US institution. If a student is currently enrolled in an Indian institution and interested in transferring to a US college/university, he or she should have completed at least two years or four semesters of study at the current institution.

Student should also have achieved a certain level of academic performance set by the institution (measured by GPA or grades). Students must check specific transfer requirements, eligibility criteria and credit transfer policies of the American institution where they want to transfer to ensure that their transition is a seamless one.

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