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Study in the States

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  • There are five ways to prepare for your Visa Interview.

    1. You must show proof of your acceptance to an SEVP-certified school. Your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” and school acceptance letter from the school you will attend can verify your acceptance.
       
    2. You must show that you have the financial ability to pay for school costs plus living expenses (in the amount shown on your Form I-20 that you received from the school you will attend). For the interview, bring copies of the financial documents (such as bank statements) you provided to the school where you plan to enroll. You must also bring your I-901SEVIS Fee receipt to prove you submitted your payment to SEVP. 
       
    3. If you are applying for an F-1 visa, you should be ready to show you are prepared for the academic program in which you plan to enroll. To do this, the Department of State suggests that you bring copies of any standardized test scores, academic transcripts, diplomas or certificates from previous education that you provided in your application to the U.S. school where you plan to enroll.
       
    4. You may be asked to confirm that your stay in the United States is temporary (i.e., you are not permanently immigrating). 
       
    5. The interviewing official may be interested to know how you intend to use the education you receive in the United States when you return home. 
  • While the application process may be different in each state, the basic steps are very similar. These steps include talking with your Designated School Official (DSO) about driving rules and regulations, talking to your DSO or RO to make sure you are Active in SEVIS, waiting the proper length of time, registering for a Social Security number (SSN) if required by your state, and submitting the proper documentation. You may also need to pass both a driving and written test. After a successful application process, a DMV official will explain the next steps.

    If you have trouble applying for a driver's license, you speak with your DSO, who often has additional resources to help you.

  • Why do I need a Social Security number?

    In order to work in the United States, every eligible F and M student needs a Social Security number (SSN). If you do not know if you are eligible to work, please speak with your designated school official (DSO) or responsible officer (RO).

    Am I able to apply for an SSN?

    F and M students who have authorization to work in the United States may apply for an SSN. In addition, any F or M student who wishes to apply for a driver's license (in a state requiring an SSN before getting a license) may apply for an SSN.

    Many states require that you or your dependent have an SSN or have already applied for one before you apply for a driver's license. If you or your dependents are not eligible to work, but want to apply for a driver's license, you must first apply for an SSN at the local Social Security office and receive a Form SSA-L676, "Refusal to Process SSN Application."  To learn more, see our Driving in the States page.

  • As an F visa student, there are many different forms you may need to complete in order to become a student in the United States, maintain your student status,  receive benefits, and remain in compliance with Department of Homeland Security rules and regulations. Click on the boxes below to learn more information about the required forms for each stage of the international student process.

  • Maintaining Your Status

    While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain your F or M student status. Your status relates to the purpose, or reason for why you want to come to the United States. The U.S. Department of State issues you your visa based on your intended purpose. 
     

    If the Department of State issues you an F or M student visa, this means that you are coming to the United States to study. You should not take any action that detracts from that purpose. Maintaining your status means:

    • Fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued you your visa.
    • Following the regulations associated with that purpose.

    F-1 and M-1 students share the same primary purpose for coming to the United States however, F-1 students enroll in more traditional academic programs, while M-1 students enroll in vocational programs. Because these two types of programs are different in nature, the types of benefits an international student may be eligible for and how long they may remain in the country depend on whether they are an F-1 or M-1 student.  Learn more about these specific differences by reviewing the F&M Student Status: Know the Difference infographic.

     

For more information, please review Study in the States website: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students