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F-1 / J-1 Student Visas

To study any of the US courses listed on this website, you will need either an F-1 or a J-1 student visa. This list of frequently asked questions explains the rules and process for getting an F-1 / J-1 student visa. Links to online application forms can be found at the end of this page under Further Information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an F-1 student visa?

This is the most common type of visa for students who come to the USA to study. The main conditions are:

  • Students can remain in the USA for the duration of their course, plus up to 30 days before the course starts and 60 days after it ends;
  • Students are permitted to work on campus up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during vacations. Students are not permitted to work off campus.
  • Dependants can apply to come to the USA on an F-2 Dependants visa, but they will not be allowed to work or study.

What is A J-1 Student Visa?

A J-1 Visa is issued under the provisions of the Exchange Visitor Program. If you are a government sponsored student, you may have the option to apply for a J-1 visa instead of an F-1 visa. In most respects, F-1 and J-1 visas have the same conditions. The main benefit of a J-1 visa is that dependents of the visa holder are allowed to work or study.

What are the requirements for getting a US student visa?

The main requirements for getting a USA student visa are:

  • You must be accepted onto a course by an accredited US institution.
  • You must obtain a Certificate Of Eligibility (I-20) from that institution.
  • You must provide evidence that you have sufficient funds to pay your tuition fees and expenses, such as accommodation and living costs. An I-20 will not be issued without this financial evidence.

How do I prove I can pay for my studies?

To get a US student visa, you will have to prove you already have the funds to cover your tuition fees and expenses for the first 12 months. You will also have to demonstrate that you have the income to pay for the remainder of your studies. Acceptable evidence includes bank statements or other financial assets, proof of income, scholarship awards, education loans and teaching/research assistantships.

How do I apply for a US student visa?

To apply for a US student visa, you must first meet the requirements described above. You must then:

  • Obtain a Form I-20 from the institution sponsoring your visa application.
  • Pay the I-109 SEVIS Fee online. The SEVIS fee is levied on all international students and is used to fund the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
  • Submit an online application (DS-160) for your student visa and pay the application fee;
  • Schedule an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live;

Student visas can be issued up to 120 days before the start of your course, but you cannot arrive more than 30 days in advance.

Can I extend my visa from within the United States?

Yes, provided your current visa has not expired.

Can I study under the visa waiver programme (VWP)?

No. Under the Visa Waiver Programme, citizens of certain countries can visit the USA for up to 90 days for the purposes of business or tourism. The courses on our web site last more than 90 days and are credit bearing, which means they are excluded from the terms of the VWP.

Can I stay in the USA after I graduate to work?

Yes. Students who successfully complete a degree in the USA can apply for additional leave to remain under the US OPT (Optional Practical Training) scheme. All students can apply to remain in the US for 1 year, but students who studied a STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) can extend that period to 3 years.

Also In This Section

Further Information

Disclaimer: The information provided in this section is for guidance only. You should always check with the US Government Website for the latest information before applying for a student visa. Failure to follow the correct procedures is likely to result in your application being refused and could affect your ability to obtain a visa in the future.

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