The United States is home to some of the best schools in the world. A quality education is a cornerstone of the American dream. Students from around the globe strive their whole lives for the chance to study in the U.S.
While an American education is a dream for many, getting a visa to study in the U.S. can be difficult. To achieve that goal, it's important to know what opportunities are available.
Types of student visas
If you decide you want to participate in an educational program in the U.S., the first step is to figure out what kind of program is right for you, and then, in turn, which kind of visa you need. Several different types of student visas exist:
- F-1 visa: The most common type of visa for international students seeking an American education is the F-1 visa. F-1 visas are for full-time student seeking a degree, diploma or certificate at an institution approved by the U.S. government to host international students.
- J-1 visa:The J-1 visa is a visa for students attending State Department-approved exchange programs. Those who may qualify for J-1 visas include instructors, lecturers, students, au pairs, camp counselors and more.
- M-1 visa: An M-1 visa is for students attending non-academic vocational programs. An M-1 visa initially lasts a year and can then be extended for up to three years.
Working as a student
The ability to work while in the U.S. as a student depends on the type of visa you have and the type or work you wish to do.
Those on an F-1 visa may only work on campus during their first year in the U.S. After the first year, they may work off campus if the job pertains to their area of study and has approval by an on-campus international student liaison.
Those on a J-1 visa may work if the program with which they are affiliated allows employment.
On an M-1 visa, you may work in a practical training program only after completing your studies.
If you're unsure which direction is best for you, many resources exist online for international student wishing to study in the United States. Your local American embassy or consulate may have information available as well.
An immigration attorney may be able to help you get your documents in order and begin the visa application process if you pursue the opportunity.