Student and Exchange Visitor Visas
The category of visa required for travel to the United States is primarily determined by the purpose of travel. A person intending to study or participate in an Exchange Visitor Program (including student exchanges, research, internships, cultural programs, au pair programs, summer work & travel, etc.) needs a student (F-1, M-1) or exchange visitor (J-1, Q-1) visa.
To qualify for a student or exchange visitor visa, an applicant must present a specific form certifying that they have been admitted to a qualifying U.S. educational institution or exchange program: Student visa applicants must present an approved I-20 Form; Exchange visitor visa applicants must present an approved DS-2019 Form. All exchange visitor (J visa) trainee or intern visa applicants with DS-2019 forms dated on or after July 19, 2007 (based on Box 7 on form) must also present Training/Internship Placement Plan, Form DS-7002 (pdf, 205 KB) when applying for your visa. If your Form DS-2019 is issued prior to July 19, 2007 a Form DS-7002 is not required. For more information about the new rules for trainee and intern programs, see the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Exchange Visitor Program, Private Sector Programs. (Exception: Q-1 Visa applicants present a Notice of Approval Form.) These forms are obtained from the educational institution or exchange program administrator. The originals must be submitted with the visa application. They will be attached to the visa and should be retained in the passport for the duration of the traveler’s stay in the U.S.
Applicants should also be prepared to demonstrate the following:
- That they meet the requirements for their particular program;
- That they have paid any SEVIS fees as required for their particular program or course of study;
- (F-1 and M-1 applicants only) That they have sufficient funds for any school tuition, fees or expenses they are required to pay (this amount, if any, will be indicated on the Form I-20;) and
- that they have strong ties to their home sufficient to compel them to return to that home after a short trip to the U.S. (for example, permanent regular employment, essential family obligations, etc.)
Student and Exchange Visitor Visa applicants should be aware that the validity of such visas are usually tied to the specific program or course of study for which they were issued. Persons wishing to transfer schools/change programs should check with their international student advisor, program coordinator or local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office in advance.
For additional information, see:
- Student Visas and Exchange Visitor Visas
- Dependents’ visas for spouses and children of these applicants
- Expedited Appointments in Certain Urgent Situations
- Information on Studying in the United States
- Information on Exchange Programs
All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format. To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may download a free version by clicking the link above.
Know Your Rights
Know Your Rights if you are coming to the United States temporarily to work: Wilberforce Act Pamphlet