Study or Do Research in the U.S.
Foreign students can study
in the US under F-1 student visas or J-1, exchange visitor visas. The
applicant must be accepted by a school or institution approved by the INS
to issue I-20 forms, or by the US Information Agency to issue IAP-66
forms. You can find out from the school or institution whether it has the
The school or institution
will send the I-20 or the IAP-66 form directly to the student or exchange
visitor. The student or exchange visitor can apply for the visa at the
nearest embassy or consulate.
To apply, he or she must
present a valid passport, one recent 1.5 inch square photograph, the I-20
or the IAP- 66, and a completed application form. The application form may
be obtained from the embassy or consulate.
The applicant must also
present evidence that all expenses can be paid. In addition, he or she
must show serious intent to study or do research and that he or she has
strong and binding ties that will compel departure from the US after the
study or exchange visitor program has been completed.
The applicant must also
have enough knowledge of English to be able to study here, or proof that
English language training here has been arranged.
A student's or exchange
visitor's spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21, also can
apply for visas to come with him or her.
If you are in the US on a
student or exchange visitor visa and wish to change school or institution,
or obtain work permission , you must contact your foreign student advisor,
responsible officer, or your local immigration service.
If your visa has expired
and you need a new one to travel outside the US and return, you should
apply for the visa at an American Embassy or Consulate while overseas.
The Department of State
does not issue or renew student or exchange visitor visas in the US.
for the Spouse and Dependent Children of Foreign Students
Note that if there has been
any major change in the information on your I-20A-B or I-20M-N, a new form
will need to be obtained and submitted by the foreign student.
When the family members
enter the United States, they will present their passport and form I-20A-B
or I-20M-N to the immigration inspector. The inspector will issue each
person a form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, which notes the authorized
period of stay. This period of stay will match that of the foreign
student. Please note that F-2 or M-2 visa holders are barred from
accepting employment or engaging in business under any circumstances while
in the United States. To do so will subject the individual to deportation.
The American consulate in
your native country would determine whether the above requirements are met
and qualifies as a spouse or dependent child for an F-2 or M-2 visa. In
addition, form I-20A-B or I-20M-N from the school which the foreign
student is either going to attend or is currently attending must be
submitted to the American consular officer in order to support the
application for the F-2 or M-2 visas.
If the spouse and or
dependent child are going to accompany the foreign student to the United
States, the foreign students' form I-20A-B or I-20M-n may be used as the
basis to request the F-2 or M-2 visas.
If the spouse and or
dependent child are joining the student later, they will need to submit to
the United States consular officer a properly endorsed form I-20A-B or
I-20M-N from the school the foreign student is attending.
For a spouse and/or
dependent children to enter the United States with an F-1 or M-1 student,
or to join them later, the spouse and/or dependant children must meet
certain requirements. These requirements are:
1. They each must hold a
valid passport, unless they are citizens of Canada or exempt from passport
2. They must prove they
have sufficient funds to meet all their expenses while in the United
3. They must agree to
depart the United States upon the termination of the foreign student's F-1
or M-1 visa.
Transfers for F-1 Students
If you are currently an F-1
student who has been pursuing a full course of study at a school which INS
has authorized you to attend you may transfer to another school or
continue in the same program or major at a different school.
To be eligible you must be
a bona fide student wishing to transfer to another school to complete an
academic educational program. For example, from a high school program to a
college program, or from one degree program to another, or from one
college to another. In order to transfer from one school to another you
must follow some simple procedures.
An F-1 student who is
maintaining status may transfer to a different school through a
notification procedure. There is no need to ask INS for permission to
To transfer schools an F-1
student must first notify the school he or she is attending of the intent
to transfer, then obtain a Form I-20A-B from the school to which he or she
intends to transfer. The transfer will be effected only if the F-1 student
completes the student certification portion of the Form I-20AB and returns
the form to a designated school official on campus within 15 days of
beginning attendance at the new school. Upon receipt of the student's form
I-20AB, the school official must:
1. Note "Transfer
Completed on (Date)" on the student's I-20ID in the space provided
for the designated school official's remarks, thereby acknowledging the
2. Return the I-20ID to the
3. Submit the I-20 school
copy to the service's data processing center within 30 days of receipt
from the student; and
4. Forward a photo-copy of
the form I-20AB to the school from which the student transferred. However,
an F-1 student who is not enrolled as a full-time student at the school he
or she was last authorized to attend is ineligible for school transfer.
Such a student must apply to the INS district office for reinstatement to
F-1 student status on Form I-539, "Application to Extend Time of
Temporary Stay", accompanied by a Form I-20AB from the new school.
A fee is required for the
processing of the application for reinstatement.
If permission to transfer
is denied, INS will specify a date by which you must depart the United
States. If you transfer schools without first seeking permission from INS,
you will then become subject to deportation.
Transfers for M-1 Students
To request permission to
transfer schools as an M-1 student you must submit a completed form I-539,
"Application to Extend Time of Temporary Stay", along with a
completed for I-20MN , "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant
(M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students", endorsed by the
designated school official of the school to which you wish to transfer.
These documents, along with your I-94, "Arrival Departure
Record", and those of your spouse and children and your Form I-20ID,
should be submitted to the INS office having jurisdiction over the school
where you were last authorized to attend.
Sixty days after having
filed for this transfer, you may start attending your new school. If the
application is approved, it will be retroactive to the date of the filing
of the application. You will be granted an extension of stay for the
period of time necessary to complete the course of study, plus thirty
days, not to exceed one year.
As an M-1 student, you may
be eligible to transfer to another school within the first six months of
your present enrollment, provided that you meet the following
1. You must be a M-1
student in valid status.
2. You must have been
pursuing a full course of study at the school which you were last
authorized to attend.
3. You must intend to
pursue a full course of study at the school to which you wish to transfer.
4. You must be financially
able to attend the school to which you wish to transfer.
Please note, after you have
completed six months as an M-1 foreign student, you may not transfer to
another school unless, due to circumstances beyond your control, you are
unable to remain at the school which you were initially authorized to