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Applying for a student visa

Foreigners who have been accepted to a program of study in South Carolina are required to apply for a student visa before arriving in the United States. Depending on the type of school, the student would either apply for an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa. Before applying for a student visa, the applicant would need to be accepted to a school in the United States that is approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.

An F-1 visa is used for study at a university, college, high school or private elementary school. Study at a seminary, conservatory or a language training school also requires an F-1 visa. M-1 visas are designed for a student who is planning to study at a vocational or nonacademic school in the United States.

Applying for student non-immigrant visas involves several different steps that may vary depending on which U.S. consulate or embassy the student applies from. Before an interview can be scheduled, the student would need to complete online Form DS-160, upload a photo of themselves and pay the application fee. If the student is age of 13 or younger, an in-person interview is generally not required. Because issuance of a visa is not guaranteed, purchasing plane tickets before being issued a student visa is not recommended.

Individuals who have been accepted to study at a school in the United States may have a number of other issues to take care of in addition to applying for a student visa. An immigration attorney may be able to help students who would like to receive authorization to work in the United States or bring their spouse and children into the United States with them.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Student Visa", October 29, 2014

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