Student Visas

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyer Helps Students Pursue Education Options in the U.S.Philadelphia Immigration Lawyer

At JD Law Associates, we are committed to helping provide immigration options for all our clients.


Student Visa Options

If you want to come to the United States to pursue your studies, the most important thing that has to be taken care of is the visa process, since there are many application forms, fees and documents that you will need.
The U.S. Department of State issues almost 86% of student and exchange visas that it receives and most of the rejected applications are unapproved primarily because of a failure in the documentation process. These errors can be avoided by working with an attorney to submit the forms completely and in a timely manner, as well as providing tips on how to have a successful interview.

There are three main types of student and exchange visas: F, J and M. The majority of study visas are F visas.

  • F-1 Visa is the most common visa for those who want to study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English as a second language at a university or language institute.
  • J-1 Exchange Visa, is for people who will be participating in an exchange programs that provide high school or university studies.
  • M-1 Student Visa is for those who will be in a non-academic or vocational course of study.

Focusing on the F-1 Visa

The criteria for student visas are rather strict, as to stay in F status, you must be coming to participate in full-time study at an approved academic program, and generally, you must stay in that program.

Typically, F-1 students are enrolled in a degree or diploma program at a college or university. There are no visa number limits on the F-1 Student Visa thus allowing an unlimited number of students to study in the United States at any given time. The whole process can take up to 6 months to complete and prospective students should take into consideration that as most schools start classes on August or September, June and July will be the busiest months at the Embassy.
Before you apply for the visa, you need first to be accepted into a SEVP approved school. Then, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and you´ll be ask to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. Your school will provide you a Form I-20 which you have to present at the consular office when you attend your interview.

Next, you will need to get your documentation ready.
You´ll need your passport and it needs to be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the US. You will be submitting the online Non-immigrant Visa Application (DS-160), which will produce a confirmation page. You´ll need to pay the non-refundable visa application fee which is around $160. Check the Department of State website for the current fees, and you will get an application fee payment receipt. The DS-160 application requires that you upload a photo following the photo requirements, and you may be required to bring a photo to the interview. Finally, you will need the Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20A-B or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20M-N Your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20.

During the Visa Interview at the US Embassy Consular office that you select on your DS-160 application (typically the one closest to your home in your country), a consular officer will evaluate you and your paperwork to determine if you are qualified to receive the visa, and ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken during the interview. Once the visa is approved, if there is a visa issuance fee in your country, you will have to pay it.

Sometimes additional documentation is required to establish that you are qualified for the visa. These documents may include evidence of your academic preparation, such as diplomas, degrees or certificates of schools you attended, and the scores from the tests that your US school required, such as TOEFL, SAT, GRE, or GMAT. Generally, you will need to provide some proof on how you will pay for all educational, living and travel expenses. You will also need to show that you have the intent to depart the U.S. after you complete the course of study. J visa applicants typically face a two-year home residency requirement (i.e., they must return back to their home country for two years after completing the U.S. program before being allowed to come back to the US), but there are exceptions and advance permission to waive the requirement may be sought.

While there is no guarantee that you will be approved for the student visa, consulting with a knowledgeable immigration attorney can help you get your questions answered and help you avoid surprises later on. Our Philadelphia immigration attorney who has experience working in several colleges and universities, can help you find the right school and open student visa options to you.


Contact a Philadelphia Immigration Lawyer Today

If you are ready to get started with getting your student visa, please call our experienced immigration lawyer at JD Law Associates – (215) 791-7743.