The United States is, by far, has the most number of international students. To date, the nation is home to 1.095 million enrollees.

This fame is not surprising, though, as the US is home to many of the best universities in the world. Despite the high cost of studies, it continues to be the top choice amongst many enrollees.

If you’re setting your sights towards an American institution, then here are some tips on applying for a United States student visa:

What documents do you need to apply for a student visa in the United States?

Students may apply for any of the two kinds of student visas. The most common one is the F visa. It is issued to those who wish to study in a university, college, conservatory, seminary, or high school.

On the other hand, students enrolled in a vocational or non-academic institution will need an M visa.

Applicants for both F and M visas will have to submit the following documents:


This must be valid for more than six months beyond your period of stay.

Completed application form

You can complete this DS-160 form online through this link. You have to create an account first in case you don’t have one.

The DS-160 form will ask about your personal information, family data, work/educational background, and travel history.

The form will also inquire about your health and security background.

Once you have submitted the document, remember to print the confirmation page. You will need to have it during your visa interview.

Remember: the DS-160 is only valid for 30 days. If you don’t plan on getting an interview within this time frame, don’t submit the form yet. Click on the Save button instead. Only click the submit icon once you’re ready to push through with the United States student visa application.


You will need to upload a soft copy of your photo before submitting the DS-160 form.

Your photo should be taken within six months of the application. Likewise, it should meet these other requirements:

  • White or off-white background
  • Neutral facial expression, both eyes open
  • The headgear should not obstruct hairline
  • Glasses should be removed

Certificate of Eligibility (I-20)

If you’re applying for an F visa, you need to provide a certificate for academic and language students or I-20. M visa applicants, on the other hand, should submit a certification for vocational students.

To obtain this, you need to accept your admission offer. After doing so, you can provide them with a copy of your passport ID page and financial support documents (bank statement and affidavit of support.)

Once they receive these documents, they will encode your file on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS.)

This form will be mailed to your local address. See to it that the school official has signed the document. Likewise, you should sign the form once you have received it by mail.

Payment Receipts

Unless you are entitled to a fee waiver, you will need to submit a copy of your application fee receipt when you apply for a United States student visa.

You will need to provide your SEVIS fee receipt as well.

Other Documents

The consular interview may require other supporting documents, such as:

  • Diplomas, certificates, and transcripts from your previous schools
  • Standardized exam results as directed by your institution (TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, etc.)
  • Intent to depart after completing your studies
  • Documents that will detail how you’ll pay for your educational and living costs (bank statements, scholarship letters, etc.)

How much money do you need for a US Student Visa?

The F or M visa costs $160.

You will also need to shoulder the SEVIS fee, which you must settle after receiving your form I-20. This will cost you an additional $350.

You will also need to pay courier fees if you want your passport and visa delivered to your place of residence.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Steps on Applying for a Student Visa in the United States

Here’s a breakdown of the application process:

1. Accept your admission offer.

It would be best if you had a guaranteed slot in your university to begin the process. Without this, you won’t be able to proceed with the following steps.

2. Gather the necessary documents.

You should have the files mentioned above ready before you apply for USA student visa.

3. Schedule an interview appointment.

Once you have submitted the requirements and paid the( fees online, you may schedule your visa interview. You can apply as early as 120 days before your program’s start date.

4. Attend your visa interview.

The consular officer will interview you to determine if you do meet the requirements for a student visa.

During your visa appointment, you may have to undergo fingerprinting as well.

5. Wait for the result.

Compared to other countries, the US consular officer will let you know of your status right away.

If they tell you that your United States student visa is approved, then congratulations! Depending on your nationality, you may have to pay the issuance fee.

If the officer deems that you need to undergo further administrative processing (221 G), you must provide the necessary documents within the established time frame. You may be granted a visa once you submit the papers required by the officer.

6.  Wait for the visa.

Wait times vary according to nationality. Due to the pandemic, this can go as long as 100+ days.

You have the option to pick up your visa, though you could have it delivered to your home as well.

Once you have the visa, you may enter the US. However, your flight should not be scheduled 30 days before your program starts.

Once you reach Customs & Border processing, you must submit your passport with visa and form I-20. The officer should place an admission stamp on your passport.

Remember: Having a visa does not guarantee entry to the US!

Applying for a US student visa is similar to its other visa processes. Getting one, however, is still subject to the officer’s discretion. That said, it’s best to have all the necessary documents ready during your interview!


I hope that this article on how to apply for a student visa in the United States was helpful. If you’re interested in studying abroad, make sure to check out the Available Programs for International Students!