You have to wait until 90 days or fewer before you leave for America before you can submit
your application, but donít wait too long. Youíll need to collect all of the necessary
documents and bring them, along with any family members coming with you, to the American
When should I take this step?
No earlier than 90 days before you are scheduled to report at your school;
if you apply any earlier, you will be turned down. Don't apply too close to the
time you plan to leave, or you may not have time to re-apply if you are turned down for some other reason.
In addition, you have to wait until you receive I-20 from the school
that you want to attend. You can only use the I-20 from the school you will be attending.
What kind of visa should I get?
There are three (3) types of visas available to international students: F-1, J-1, and M-1.
F-1 visas are the most common, and they are issued to
students who will attend schools for general academic pursuits or
English language education. Students with F-1 status must attend
school full-time. To apply an F-1 visa, you must fill out form
J-1 visas are for exchange or visiting students and scholars.
In order to get a J-1 visa, you must demonstrate that you are coming
to the U.S. for training or education not available in your home
country or that you are pursuing studies that you cannot effectively
carry out without coming to the U.S. To apply an J-1 visa, you must
fill out form IAP-66 (not currently available online).
M-1 visas are issued to students attending non-academic trade
or vocational schools. To apply for an M-1 visa, you must fill out
What kind of visa should my family members get?
If you are bringing a spouse and/or children with you to the U.S.,
they must get a dependent visa of the same class as yours: F-2, J-2,
or M-2. In order to get dependent status for family members before
you come to the U.S., bring your family with you to the U.S. embassy
when you apply for your visa. If they will join you later, you must
take your I-20 or IAP-64 to a U.S. embassy to prove your legal status
as a student. In both cases, you must bring proof of their relationship
to you (examples of this are a marriage certificate proving that you
are married to your spouse or a brith certificate that lists you as
the parent for any children you want to bring with you).
Note: If, for any reason, you lose your student status, your
dependents in the U.S. will also lose their visas. Your family's
dependent visas are part of your visa.
What do I need to bring with me when I apply??
You need a variety of documents when you apply for your visa. Use this checklist (also check with
your local U.S. embassy):
- visa application form (an I-17 if you are an F-1 or M-1 applicant; an IAP-66 if you are a J-1 applicant)
- I-20 if you are applying for an F-1 or M-1 visa; your IAP-66 if you are applying for an J-1 visa
- Passport It must have been valid for at least 6 months by the time you apply for your visa
- Visa application fee
- A recent photo measuring 2 inches by 2 inches (5cm x 5cm)
- Financial proof to show that you have enough money (including financial aid) to pay for your education.
You must bring all documents (e.g., financial statement) relating to your financial status
- Diplomas, certificates, and transcripts from schools that you have attended
- Scores on entrance and language exams
- Health records
- Proof of relationship to any family members you want to add to your visa
Where do I get a visa?
You apply for a visa at the American embassy.
It's a good idea to plan ahead so you can schedule
an interview as early as possible within the 90-day
period mentioned above. Click here to
find the web site of the U.S. embassy or consular center in your area.