Collect the required documents for a US student visa.

Getting a US student visa is required of all visiting students who wish to enter and study in America. Certain documents are required to get a US student visa. The US insists that each visiting student complete and present these documents so that it can maintain accurate records relating to immigration and national security.

US Student Visa Types

The F-1 and M-1 documents are generally referred to as student visas.

  • The F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa required for foreign nationals qualified to attend a full course of study at an academic institution.
  • The M-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that permits visiting students to enter the US to pursue vocational or non-academic studies, other than language training.

What You Will Need for Your US Student Visa

The application process for getting student visa status involves an interview at an embassy or consular office for applicants from ages 14 through 79. The waiting time for interviews varies. Earlier is always better when applying for a student visa of either F-1 or M-1 status.

At the consular interview, every applicant must provide the following documents: Form I-20A-B for F-1 status or Form I-20M-N for M-1 status, a completed Nonimmigrant Visa Application, which includes Form DS 156 and 158, a valid passport, one 2 x 2 photograph, an MRV receipt and a SEVIS I-901 receipt.

I-20 Forms

The first required document for a US student visa is Form I-20A-B or Form I-20M-N. The college or university you plan to attend will provide you with the necessary I-20 forms. The I-20 form informs the US that you are eligible for F-1 or M-1 status.
This form must be in the student’s possession upon every entry into the US. This form is to be submitted when applying for the student visa during the interview process.

DS 156 and 158 Forms

The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, including both F-1 and M-1 status, consists of two required documents, Form DS 156 and 158. Form DS 157 also might be required as a supplemental document, but the student will be notified of this prior to the interview.
Forms DS 156 and 158 primarily pertain to work history, as well as geographical, biographical and contact information. Both forms must be completed, signed and submitted at the consular interview.

More Requirements for Your US Student Visa

Along with the necessary US-issued required forms like the I-20, DS 156 and 158 forms, the visiting student will also need to provide a passport for travel to the US with a validity date at least six months beyond the intended period of stay.
Even if the passport contains the student’s photograph, the student still must present a 2 x 2 photograph at the interview to be kept on file.

MRV and SEVIS Receipts

Two other mandatory documents that will need to be presented to get a US student visa are the MRV and the SEVIS I-901 receipts. The MRV receipt proves that you paid the visa application fee, and the SEVIS I-901 proves that you paid the Form I-20 filing fee. The SEVIS I-901 receipt will be generated after completing all the requisites for Form I-20.

Other Essential Documents for a US Student Visa

Visiting students must also be prepared to bring transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions they attended, relevant standardized test scores and financial evidence that they have sufficient funds to support them during their intended stay, including costs for living and tuition.

If you have any dependents, proof of your relationship to that dependent must be provided at the interview with a marriage license, birth certificate or any other valid and acceptable document revealing the relationship.

With the above forms and documents secured and completed, the visiting student is ready to begin to study in the US. This should come as quite a relief!
For more visa and immigration information, please visit Legal Language Services.

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