Magoosh helps students all over the world achieve their dreams by providing access to quality test prep. When applying to colleges and graduate schools in the United States, international students are required to take some additional steps, including going through the process to obtain a student visa. So in an effort to provide some clarity around these steps, we’ve put together a list of resources to help you navigate the complicated visa process, from selecting a school to getting a student visa.
The Student Visa Process
You can learn about the steps to apply for a U.S. student visa through the U.S. Department of State’s step-by-step process. You’ll find a helpful overview that will help you decide if studying in the U.S. is right for you, and where in the U.S. you may want to study. They also outline how to apply for your visa based on which level of school you’ll be attending—undergraduate or graduate. Be sure to review the list of advising centers, which are located around the world—there may be a center near you where you can ask questions about the student visa process.
If you have additional questions concerning a student visa, check out the Bureau of Consular Affairs overview on student visas. This site is updated based on changes to immigration policies, so be sure to check back often to stay up-to-date. Note: according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, you have to apply to and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program school before you can apply for a student visa, so make sure the schools you are considering are on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s approved list of schools.
Once you’ve selected a school where you’d like to study, don’t forget to reach out to the school directly to ask any questions you have about the visa process. Schools often have dedicated staff to help guide you through the student visa process and answer questions you may have about what it’s like to study in the U.S. or at that particular school. And if you haven’t selected a school yet, be sure to check out How to Choose a U.S. College from Halfway around the World.
Another way to stay informed on any changes to student visas is by viewing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website where any updates to immigration laws and policies are listed in their news feed.
Application and Financial Aid Process
For students interested in undergraduate studies, College Board, the organization that administers the entrance exams for U.S. colleges, provides a helpful 8 step process for studying in the U.S. Note: according to College Board, the process for applying to study at a university in the U.S. can take as long as two years. Be sure to plan accordingly.
Scholarships and financial aid are a critical part of studying in the U.S. for both domestic and international students. One great resource for information about scholarships for international students is U.S. News and World Report—be sure to check out their article, Scholarships to Help International Students Afford U.S. Colleges, and keep an eye on their site for updates to scholarships and financial aid.
American Organizations for International Students
There are many organizations dedicated to helping individuals navigate the process to become a student in the U.S. Here are a few organizations you can reach out to directly if you have additional questions or concerns:
- The Council on International Educational Exchange – A nonprofit that helps more than 35,000 international students every year study in the U.S.
- International Student Organization in the USA – An association of international students who are studying or have studied in the U.S. They provide an online community for students to ask questions and get information about what it’s like to study in the U.S.
- International Student – Visa and Immigration Center – An online resource that outlines the student visa process and provides helpful information on the different types of visas. You’ll also find information regarding visa options after you graduate in the U.S., so be sure to check out Visa Options in the US after Graduation if you’re interested in staying in the U.S. after school.
There’s so much helpful information out there to help guide you through the process of becoming an international student at an American school. And while the process can seem overwhelming at times, there are a lot of resources and organizations to assist you. If you have additional questions, be sure to check out Resources for International Students for even more information about studying in the U.S.
We wish you luck as you navigate the process of becoming a student in the U.S., and we hope to see you studying in the states soon!