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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Foreign Student Exchange and Student Visas

Are you a foreign student and planning on participating in a foreign student exchange program—a program that will bring you to the United States to study? Do you understand the document requirements for participating in a foreign student exchange, particularly the student visa requirement? Coming to the United States can be the academic, cultural and personal experience of a lifetime, but in order to visit the U.S. you must first secure a student visa. To help you meet this obligation, in this article we will provide some basic information about the student visa, including the requirements for qualifying, the application procedure and the required documentation you will need to secure this very important document.

Qualifying for a student visa, a document required for anyone participating in a foreign student exchange program, means you must first meet certain guidelines and requirements as laid out by the Immigration and National Act. These include:

You must have a verifiable residence in your country, with no immediate intentions for abandoning this residence.

You must indicate that you plan to return to your country, or at the very least that you intend to depart the United States, once your program of study has concluded.

You must have sufficient funds to pursue the propose course of study, including living expenses.

Foreign Student Exchange: Applying for a Student Visa

While the application process for a student visa can be quite arduous, it is nevertheless required if you wish to participate in a foreign student exchange program. The first step to this process, required for students of all ages, is an interview at the embassy consular section. Getting an appointment for this interview, especially at certain times of the year, could take some time. For this reason, students are encouraged to apply for their student visa as early as possible.

Every foreign student exchange student applying for a student visa must undergo a digital fingerprint scan as part of the application process. This is a very quick process and can usually be scheduled on the day of your interview.

As with any government submission the application process for the student visa requires that all foreign exchange students submit certain documents. These documents include:

Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status-For Academic and Language Students or Form 1-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Student Status for Vocational Students. The reason that academic and language students will complete a different eligibility form than vocational students is that the two students fall under different student visa categories, F-1 student status for the former and M-1 student status for the latter.

Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form Ds-160

Passport. Foreign student exchange participants must possess a passport that will remain valid until at least six months after the conclusion of the course of study.

Photograph. A photograph, approximately 2 inches by 2 inches, is required for all participants of a foreign student exchange.

Receipt. This is a specific receipt that proves you paid the student visa application fee.

The SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.

While the above documents are always required, participants of a foreign student exchange should additionally be prepared to show other documents as well, including transcripts, standardized test scores (TOEFL, SAT, etc), and financial proof that they or their parents have sufficient funds to sponsor the foreign student exchange participant in his/her course of study.

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