Student Visa (F-1/M-1)
Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a SEVP approved school. Visit the Department of Homeland Security Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.
When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1/M-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students (Form I-20) to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee
Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1)
Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. Visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about program requirements, regulations, and more.
When you are accepted into the exchange visitor program you plan to participate in, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Most J-1 Exchange Visitors must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, Form DS-2019. After your program sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS system, a SEVIS-generated Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019) is provided to you. All exchange visitors, including their spouses and minor children, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Each person receives a separate Form DS-2019. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
Step 1. Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
- Completed Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
All Student Visa (F-1/M-1) and Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1) applicants should collect the following:
- A valid passport
- DS-160 confirmation page
- A 2 x 2 inch color photo not older than 6 months – with a light or white background
- Student (F-1/M-1) visa applicants should also bring their Form I-20.
- Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa applicants should also bring Form DS-2019, and Form DS-7002 if participating in the J-1 Trainee and Intern categories.
Additional Documents – Student Visa Applicants:
Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of your academic preparation, such as:
- Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
- Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
- Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
- How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.
Additional Documents – Exchange Visitor Visa Applicants:
Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
- The purpose of your trip;
- Your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or
- Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.
Step 2. Schedule an Interview Appointment
To schedule an appointment for a non-immigrant visa (NIV) interview, please consult the Embassy’s online NIV Appointment System. Please have your DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form Confirmation Number handy. It is located on your DS-160 confirmation page, in bold print.
New Students – F-1 and M-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States in F-1 or M-1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.
Continuing Students – May renew their visas at any time, as long as they have maintained student status and their SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before their classes start.
Exchange Visitors – Exchange visitors beginning new programs may not enter the United States more than 30 days before their program start date.
Step 3. Fees
On the day of your interview, please pay the following nonrefundable visa application fees: $ 160 for Student (F-1 /M-1) and Exchange Visitor (J-1) visas.Payment can be made in Ariary according to the current exchange rate or in U.S. Dollars
NOTE: U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are not required to pay application processing fees if participating in a Department of State, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a Federally funded educational and cultural exchange program which has a program serial number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are also not required to pay applicable issuance fees.
Step 4. The Interview Process
Once you have fully completed all of the steps above, you may come to the Consular Section of the Embassy by your appointment time on the day of your interview. If you arrive more than an hour after your scheduled appointment time, you will not be interviewed, and will need to take another appointment.
When you enter the Consular waiting room, you will have to take a number and to sit down. When your number is called, you will present your passport and documents at Window 1 or 2. After documents are accepted and screened, you will be instructed to proceed the payment of the visa fee. After you pay your fee, you will wait in line in the order you arrived. You will be called at window 2 where your fingerprints will be taken electronically. You will be interviewed personally by a commissioned U.S. Consular Officer. The interview is your opportunity to explain to the officer your travel plans, your ties and your personal circumstances in your home country in an honest and forthright manner.
NOTE: Adults must qualify on their individual merits. No friend, relative, or business associate can “guarantee” your return on your behalf. A letter of invitation promising to pay the expenses of your trip does not mean that you will receive a visa. Presentation of documents does not guarantee visa issuance.
Step 9. Return to Collect Your Passport and Visa
If you are issued the visa, return the following workday at 4:00 pm to collect your passport and visa.