Types of US student visas
International students get US student visas of the following categories:
- F — to study at an accredited school or university;
- M — to study at a vocational or technical school;
- J — to participate in an exchange program.
The visa validity period depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship. For example, Nigerian citizens usually get student visas for an actual study period, so they might need to be renewed yearly.
All US student visas are non-immigrant and don’t lead to a green card or citizenship.
Maltese citizens can visit the USA visa-free for up to 90 days during one trip. They get an electronic travel authorisation (ESTA) to enter the country. It is valid for up to two years, subject to extension.
One can be denied ESTA if they have criminal records, visa denials, deportations, or other reasons. In this case, a Maltese citizen can get a B-1/B-2 visitor visa valid for 10 years. This visa allows the holder to spend up to 180 days a year in the USA.
The ESTA and visitor visas don’t provide the right to study in the USA; only a student visa suits this purpose. Maltese citizens get F, M and J student visas valid for up to five years.
You can apply for a US student visa to any consulate that accepts foreigners. To get a visa, one must do the following:
- fill out a DS-160 form;
- book an appointment at a US embassy or consulate in the country where you’re going to apply for a visa;
- pay an application processing fee.
Some embassies and consulates give preference to citizens of the country of location, processing other applications later. The application processing information can usually be found on the embassy or consulate’s website.
Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, or St Lucia get F, M and J student visas to the USA for five years. Thus, a student with second Caribbean citizenship can study at an American university without the need to renew their visa every year.
St Kitts and Nevis citizens get F student visas for a shorter time of 25 months. M and J visas are valid for 5 years, just like for other Caribbean citizens.
Parents can get 10-year B-1/B-2 visitor visas to see their children in the USA. Caribbean citizens can apply for a visa to the US Embassy in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, or choose another embassy or consulate.
Alessandra’s children studied in the USA. Before the pandemic, Allesandra and her husband often visited them by getting US visitor visas. But US consulates in Brazil stopped issuing new B visas due to the pandemic.
Antigua and Barbuda citizenship helped to solve the visa issue. The couple got their second passports in 6 months and passed a visa interview at the US Embassy in Barbados.
Grenada or Turkey citizenship, and the E-2 visa to the USA
Investors with Grenada or Turkey passports can get E-2 visas to the USA by opening a business there. The visa is unavailable for citizens of many other countries because its issuance requires a valid trade and navigation treaty between the state and the USA.
5-year E-2 visas are issued to investors with Grenada or Turkey citizenship. The validity period can be renewed unlimited times for as long as the business operates and brings a profit.
The E-2 visa allows the holder to relocate with the family and do business in the USA. A spouse and children under 21 can get visas, too. The visa is non-immigrant; one cannot obtain citizenship after it.
Getting an E-2 visa implies opening or purchasing a company in the USA, investing a significant amount of money, and actively participating in its operation afterwards. The law doesn’t set the minimum investment amount: it must be significant relative to the company’s value. Applicants for an E-2 visa usually invest at least $100,000.
Obtaining a visa takes at least two months. The application processing can be expedited to up to 15 days with an additional fee.
Vanuatu citizens get 5-year M and J visas and 1-year F visas. Therefore, you cannot extend your stay in the USA to study with a Vanuatu passport.
The B-1/B-2 visitor visas are valid for 5 years for Vanuatu citizens. This visa allows visiting the USA to see universities or students or spend a vacation.
Frequently asked questions
The US student visa validity period depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship and is issued for 1 to 5 years.
Getting a US student visa is a straightforward procedure, but it might be time-consuming to prepare all the documents for the application. Besides, there can be queues at embassies and consulates for applying and processing that could take several months of waiting.
Yes, it is. According to the Best Countries for Education ranking, the USA is the world’s leader in education.
The reasons include the fact that US educational institutions have a great variety of available classes and courses for international studies, rigorous accreditations, advanced technologies, great research capabilities, and providing practice skills for future employment.