How to get a student Visa. New Jersey Immigration lawyer explains

How to Get a Student Visa – through a 10-Step Guide

The visa process we will discuss may be used for all three types of US student visas, given the similarities in the application for the various types of visas.

Step 1: Apply and Get Accepted to a US School

Most full-time undergraduate and graduate programs in the US require applications to be submitted by December or January each year. Schools typically send out admission notifications around March and April.

The schools you apply to must be approved by SEVP. Use the SEVP school search tool to find a SEVP-approved or certified school.

J-1 students will most likely apply for exchange programs through their home institutions. You may also look for designated sponsor organizations online at the official J-1 visa website.

Step 2: Receive Form I-20 or DS-2019 From Your School

Once admitted to a school, F-1 and M-1 students will receive Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).

Your school will mail the appropriate form to you with your SEVIS ID, your school’s address, and other critical information concerning your program.

Step 3: Pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee

Once you receive the form from your school, go online and pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.

After paying, print out your confirmation page, and bring it to your visa interview.

Step 4: Find Your Nearest US Embassy or Consulate

You must apply for your student visa through your nearest US embassy or consulate (ideally, in the city or region in which you live).

US student visa processes may differ slightly depending on which embassy you apply.

Step 5: Complete Form DS-160 Online

Form DS-160 is also known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Be sure you have the following items on hand:
Your passport
A visa photograph (to upload)
Form I-20 or DS-2019 depending on the type of your visa

Indicate also the US embassy at which you intend to be interviewed for your visa.

Step 6: Schedule Your Visa Interview

Contact your nearest US embassy or consulate (ideally, the one you input on your online application) to schedule your visa interview.

Step 7: Pay Your Visa Application Fee
Pay the 160 USD application fee. This fee is the same price regardless of your country of origin and where you apply.

Be sure to bring your receipt as proof of payment to your interview, if applicable.

Step 8: Attend Your Visa Interview

You will undergo a security check and be requested digital, ink-free fingerprints after you arrive at your interview.

During the interview, you will be asked a range of questions in English. It is important to clearly state that you do not intend to remain in the US once you complete your program.

Step 9: Pay the Visa Issuance Fee (If Required)

Some students must pay a visa issuance fee once they have been approved for a US student visa. Whether this fee is required or not depends on your nationality and your country’s reciprocity agreement with the US.

Step 10: Receive Your Visa

After the steps above and when you have received approval for a US international student visa, your embassy will return your passport with your new visa in it.

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The information provided in this video is for general information purposes only. I am not providing legal advice, and this content does not trigger an attorney-client relationship. Although I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. To become your lawyer, we must first meet one-on-one and enter into a fee agreement for legal services. I am a licensed attorney by the State Bars of New Jersey and New York (in good standing). I’m also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. Learn more about me at

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