Nonimmigrant Visas: Study & Exchange

Non-Immigrant Visas – Study & Exchange

With thousands of academic programs, world-class institutions, and unmatched flexibility, the United States offers a wealth of higher-education opportunities.

The Student (F-1/M-1) Visa provides opportunities for qualified applicants to study at accredited universities in the United States. Visit the EducationUSA page to learn about pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, opportunities for scholars, and the admissions process.

The Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa program provides a number of opportunities for international candidates looking to travel and gain experience in the United States. There are a variety of programs that encourage foreign nationals to come to the United States to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years.

Citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participating countries who would like to pursue a U.S. conferred degree or certificate, even if it is for a short duration, cannot travel on the cannot travel on the VWP or on visitor (B) visas.  Students must travel to the United States with student (F-1 or M-1) visas.

Visitor (B) Visa is appropriate, for short periods of recreational study through a tourist visit.

Student Visa (F-1/M-1)

Before you can apply for an F or M student visa, you must first receive an acceptance letter from a SEVP approved school. Visit the Study in the States school search page to find SEVP-certified schools.

Once you are accepted by the U.S. school that you plan to attend, you will automatically 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 each obtain individual Form I-20s, but will not have to 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 for a J-1 visa, you first must be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. Please refer to the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about program requirements, regulations, and more.

If you are accepted and decide to participate in an exchange visitor program, 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.  After your program sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS system, you will receive a SEVIS-generated Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019). 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. Please 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.

In addition to the Form DS 2019, participants in the J-1 Trainee and Intern categories require Form DS-7002 (based on Box 7 on Form DS-2019). Learn more about Trainee and Intern programs.