American Visa Application Requirements
Do I need a Student Visa to study in the USA?
Everyone needs a student visa to study in the USA, as the immigration laws are strict there. There are very few exceptions, such as family members living there and a small number of others. If you think you may qualify, consult the US embassy in your home country.
Do I qualify for a US Student Visa?
Undergraduates must study at least 12 credit hours per week and graduates 9 credit hours, though those with graduate assistantship need only do 6 hours per week. The USA is full of private colleges and most of these are accredited but, again, it's worth checking their status in your home country rather than at Denver airport…
What else do I need to know?
Have guarantees that you can look after yourself financially whilst in the USA. The immigration there is very sensitive about people coming in on student visas and then 'disappearing' into the countryside, so prove to them where you will be staying, studying and any other contacts there. America uses credit cards like no other country in the world and it is very useful to have one there.
Are you sure there's nothing else?
Actually, there is. When arriving in the US, an Immigration Officer will present you with an I-94 Departure/Arrival Card and a Form known as IAP-66. Keep these with your passport. Don't lose them. Trust me on that. It won't mean huge problems but can cause unnecessary headaches, especially if needing to travel abroad or extend your visa.
Can I extend my stay as a student?
Yes, but again don't leave it too late. If you apply late you risk being refused and facing a lengthy reinstatement process. Allow at least six weeks if you think you may need to extend your visa.
Can I work?
You may only work up to 20 hours per week but require written permission from your programme sponsor. This is slightly different if you are engaged on an assistantship place within your university, so ask your counsellor about the details before you arrive.
Can I bring family with me?
Spouses and (unmarried) children are allowed to enter on a non-immigrant visa. Again, you have to show that you can support them and that they will leave with you when the study ends.