Languages › English as a Second Language How to Get a Student Visa to the United States Share Flipboard Email Print PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay Languages Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated May 28, 2019 Students who want to travel to the United States in order to study need to meet specific visa requirements. Other countries (UK, Canada, etc.) have different requirements that play an important role when deciding where to study English abroad. These student visa requirements may change from year to year. Types of Visas F-1 (student visa). The F-1 visa is for full-time students enrolled in an academic or language program. F-1 students may stay in the U.S. for the full length of their academic program, plus 60 days. F-1 students must maintain a full-time course load and complete their studies by the expiration date listed on the I-20 form. M-1 (student visa). The M-1 visa is for students who participate in vocational or other recognized nonacademic institutions, rather than language training programs. B (visitor visa). For short periods of study, such as a month at a language institute, a visitor visa (B) may be used. These courses do not count as credit toward a degree or academic certificate. Acceptance at a SEVP Approved School If you would like to study for a longer period of time, you must first apply and be accepted by a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Progam) approved school. You can find out more about these schools at the Department of State Education USA website. After Acceptance Once you are accepted at a SEVP-approved school, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) — which also requires the payment of a SEVIS I-901 fee of $200 at least three days before submitting your application for a U.S. visa. The school to which you have been accepted will provide you with a form I-20 to present to the consular officer at your visa interview. Who Should Apply If your course of study is more than 18 hours a week, you will need a student visa. If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study of less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do so on a visitor visa. Waiting Time There are several steps when applying. These steps may differ, depending on which U.S. embassy or consulate you choose for your application. Generally speaking, there is a three-stage process for obtaining a U.S. student visa: 1) Obtain an interview appointment 2) Take the interview 3) Get processed Allow six months for the entire process. Financial Considerations Students are also expected to show financial means to support themselves during their stay. Students are sometimes allowed to work part-time at the school they are attending. Student Visa Requirements Acceptance by university or learning institutionKnowledge of English language (usually established through TOEFL scores)Proof of financial resourcesProof of non-immigrant intent For more detailed information visit the US State Department's F-1 information page Tips Double check requirements at the consulate or embassy near you before beginning the process.Find out which school you would like to attend and make sure that it is SEVP-approved.Apply to the school you would like to attend before applying for a visa.Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee well before your visa Interview. Source "Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study." EducationUSA.