USA Study Visa Requirements: Types of Visas & Cost of Studying

usa study visa requirements

International students flock to the USA owing to its unique curriculum, excellent quality of education, and multicultural environment. As the country remains one of the most sought-after destinations for students globally, one needs to fulfill some USA study visa requirements to enter the country to pursue their education. Students can be issued any of the following visas depending on their age and course type: 

  • F1 visa
  • M1 visa
  • J1 visa

Since the number of Indians applying for the USA student visa is increasing every year, let us understand what the basic USA study visa requirements for Indian students in the year 2021 are: 

● Completed application form with proof of secondary school completion to prove 12 years of schooling. 

● A Statement of Purpose (SOP) along with the application and documents. It is a personal statement and a very important part of the visa application that tells the admissions committee who you are, what are your academic and professional interests, and why you are the right fit for the course. 

Read More: Why Study in USA

● Recommendations from college and university professors are important. Applicants must offer a minimum of two references. 

● Certificate of an English language proficiency test such as Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English language testing system (IELTS). The accepted scores may differ from college to college, but for visa approval, the certificate is an official prerequisite. 

● Evidence to prove that you have enough funds to sustain is important. The documents accepted are bank statements, financial undertakings, or scholarships. 

● A passport that is also valid for at least six months after your approved last day of stay in the US unless it is exempted by any country-specific rules, agreements, or norms. 

● Application fee payment for the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System­). 

● Academic preparation documents such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates. 

● Evidence that you will leave the country once your course or degree is completed. This can include an air ticket from the US to your home country. 

● Photograph and number.

● Letter of acceptance at a school approved by SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) and Form I-20 (A document that provides supporting information on a student’s F or M status). 

Read More: Difference between L1 and H1B Visa

Types of student visas and their basic requirements 

F-1 student visa: The F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows international students to enter the US and study at institutions approved by SEVP. It is meant for full-time students. The students can work on-campus for around 20 hours a week. 

The basic requirements are a valid passport, academic transcripts, photographs, and financial stability evidence. The academic eligibility includes 12 years of schooling. Certificate of English language proficiency tests like TOEFL or IELTS is a prerequisite to get an F1 visa. 

The visa application fee needs to be paid, and it is a non-refundable amount. Some basic requirements are that you need to have enough money to support yourself while studying without having to work and you may have to show health insurance to cover any medical expenses. The I-20 form will be issued by the designated university after offering admission so that the international students can apply for an F-1 visa. 

J-1 visa: The J-1 student visa is meant for applicants who wish to get employed in various study-based exchange and visitor programs in the US. J-1 exchange visitors come to the US to study, teach and receive training for skills. It is specifically designed for applicants who need training. There are some official requirements that every J-1 exchange visitor needs to meet. Some of them are:

Read More: Post Study Work Permit in USA

● Be a foreign post-secondary student, worker, youth teacher, or individual with professional specialized and varied skills. 

● The applicants must be above 18 years. Below 18 years applicants cannot apply for a J-1 student visa. 

● Be proficient in the English language. Non-native English speakers need to take the English language proficiency tests. 

● Applicants must be in good health. There should not be any health issues. 

● There shouldn’t be any criminal record. The police verification reports should be clean and positive. 

● Applicants must have an international driver’s license and experience of a minimum of 50 hours. 

● Applicants should be okay with living 12 months away from home. One cannot return home within 12 months. 

● Shouldn’t have lived in the US as an au pair in the past. 

● All academic degrees, verification certificates, transcripts, and records should be produced in original. 

● A valid passport is important to apply for a J-1 visa. 

Read More: Part Time Jobs in USA

M-1 visa: The M-1 student visa is granted to those applicants who are willing to join non-academic programs in a vocational school. An M-1 visa holder can apply for various vocational training programs and technical programs without a work permit till the completion of the course. It is not a student visa for academic courses and degrees. Some of the official requirements for the USA study visa (M1) are: 

● For an M-1 visa, students need to have sufficient evidence that proves that they have enough funds to pay the university tuition fee and manage the cost of living for the period of their intended stay. The financial records should be justified with proper documentation. 

● All international applicants will need to complete and submit DS-160 (Also called Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application). 

● A valid passport, with a validity date that stands valid till the completion of the course. 

● Academic transcripts and past academic certificates and documents. 

● Age should be more than 18 years. Students below 18 years are not eligible to apply for an M-1 visa. 

● Must have appeared and cleared an English language proficiency test.

Cost of studying in the USA

Studying abroad in the USA for international students can be a bit expensive. However, a promising job market and degree from a reputed US university can be rewarding beyond measure. Here are the most popular courses along with their cost of studying in the USA

Master’s in science: $30,000-$120,000 (INR 22,50,465- INR 90,01,860)

PhD: $28,000 to $55,000 per year (INR 20,99,724 – INR 41,24,458) 

Engineering: $ 45,000 to $ 60,000 (INR 33,75,968 – INR 45,01,290)

MBA: $60,000+ yearly (INR 45,01,290+)

Bachelor’s in computer science: $30,000- $80,000 (INR 22,51,029 – INR 60,02, 744)

Architecture: $ 42,900- 58,920 (INR 32,18,971 – INR 44,19,946) 

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