Applying for American Student Visa

U.S. immigration law provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for study in the United States. The F visa is for academic studies, and the M visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies. In order to obtain a student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted at a school in the U.S. Once you have been accepted, the school will forward you a form called the I-20 or I-20M. You must present this form in order to get a visa. 

F-1 Visa
This is the most common type of student visa. If you wish to engage in academic studies in the United States at an approved school, such as an accredited U.S. college or university, private secondary school, or approved English language program then you will need an F-1 visa. You will also need an F-1 visa if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week.

M-1 Visa
If you plan engage in non-academic or vocational study or training at a U.S. institution then you will need an M-1 visa.

More information about each of these visas and opportunities for studying in the United States can be found at the Education USA website.

An Interview is required for all first-time student applicants, even if the applicant is under 14 years of age. Interview for Your U.S. Student Visa Two Months Before Your Program Starts!


All F and M applicants should prepare to present the following documentation and any other relevant information at the time of the interview:

1.Valid Passport:If your passport will expire less than 6 months from your planned arrival in the United States, or is damaged, or you do not have a page for a visa, please get a new passport before your interview.

2.The DS-160 application form confirmation page, with the telecodes for your name, your name, home address, company name and company address written in Hanzi handwritten on your form. When printing out your confirmation page, please set “page layout” to “portrait”. Pleasebringtheprinted, not the faxed confirmation page to your interview.Please clickhere for more information.

3.One photograph:Two inches square (51mm x 51mm) color photograph, less than 6 months old, against a white background, full frontal view. Click for more information onphoto requirements. Please use scotch tape to stick your photo on the front cover of your passport.

4.Original Bank Receipt for Application Fee: The 1008 RMB application feemay be paid at anyCITIC Bank branch in China. Please glue or tape the application fee receipt onto the bottom of DS-160 form confirmation page. Please clickherefor an example. 

5.Passports containing all previous U.S. visas, even if expired.

6.Completed SEVIS Form:I-20A-B (for F1 students) or Form I-20M-N (for M-1 students) properly completed and signed by both the Designated School Official (DSO) and the applicant. Name on form must exactly match the name in your passport and has been entered into the SEVIS system by the U.S. academic institution. Click for more information on SEVIS.

7.SEVIS Fee Receipt: Most J, F, and M applicants must now pay a SEVIS fee. Please bring an electronic receipt or I-797 receipt to your interview.Click for information on how to pay the SEVIS fee.

8.Proof of Ties to China:Proof of economic, social, family, or other commitments that will help demonstrate your intent to return to China after a temporary stay in the U.S.

9.Proof of Finances:Proof that you can support yourself during your entire stay in the U.S. without working.

10.Research/Study Plan:Detailed information about your planned studies or research in the U.S. including the name and e-mail address of your advising professor and/or the head of your department in the U.S. Please clickherefor a sample research proposal / study plan.

11.Resume/CV:Detailed information about your past academic and professional experience, including a complete list of all publications to which you have contributed. Pleaseclickherefor a sample resume.

12.Official Transcripts of Returning Students: Student visa applicants returning to schools in the U.S. should submit their official transcripts of their coursework with their applications.

13.Advisor Biography: Graduate students who have already been assigned an advising professor at their U.S. university should bring a copy of the advisor's biography, CV or webpage.

The above items should not be considered an exhaustive list and presentation of these documents does not guarantee visa issuance.  Be prepared to explain to the visa officer and present evidence regarding why you are going to the US and why you will return to China.