Students (F-1 & M-1 Visas)
Every year hundreds of thousands of students come from around the world to take advantage of the excellent and varied educational opportunities and resources available in the United States. These visitors range from those pursuing bachelor's degrees at liberal arts colleges, to doctoral students making new discoveries and honing their skills at some of the world's foremost scientific and medical research institutions. In addition to receiving high-quality education, international students also enrich the American academic community and add to the diversity that helps make U.S. educational institutions among the best in the world. There are two types of Student Visas:
- Academic studies (F-1 visa): For people who want to study or conduct research at an accredited U.S. college or University.
- Non-Academic or Vocational Studies (M-1 Visa): For people who want to study or train at a non-academic institution in the U.S.
Apply for your student visa as soon as you have completed your preparation to study in the United States. Administrative processing requirements after the visa interview may increase the amount of time a successful applicant will wait before receiving a visa. Therefore, students should plan accordingly and are advised to apply at least 120 days before the school start date listed on the I-20 form. Continuing students may apply for a new visa at any time, as long as they have been maintaining student status and their SEVIS number is valid.
How to Apply 1. Complete the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application. Click here for the DS-160.
Click here for important information on the DS-160. 2. Go to an American Express Bank Ltd Travel Related Services office, a participating branch of American Express, or Speedex in Pakistan (see a list of all the offices).
Pay the application fee of US$160 or Pakistani Rupee equivalent.
Submit the Following
- The one-page confirmation form (with legible barcode) from the DS-160
- A current photo* (within the last 6 months) measuring 2" x 2" with white background. Please ensure your photo has not been retouched or altered, otherwise your photo will not be accepted.
- A photocopy of applicant's passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the planned date of entry to the U.S.
- Copy of I-20 form with name and date of birth matching passport details.
- $200 SEVIS fee receipt (paid online at http://www.fmjfee.com/)
- On the day of the scheduled interview applicants must arrive at the Diplomatic Shuttle Service, 3rd Avenue, near Quaid-e-Azam University Road, G-5, Islamabad to board the shuttle to the U.S. Embassy 30 minutes before their interview appointment. Applicants who arrive at the Diplomatic Shuttle Service more than 30 minutes before their interview may be asked to wait at the Diplomatic Shuttle Service.
Successful applicants will receive their passport and visa from the American Express branch where they submitted their application. Other applicants will have their passports returned following the interview.
The Visa Interview
Students should bring all their application documents to the Embassy on the day of their interview. In addition, they should be prepared to provide the following documents during the interview:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended, and scores from any standardized tests required by the educational institution, such as SAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc.
- Financial evidence that the student has funds immediately available to cover the first year of tuition and living expenses, and evidence of funds for all subsequent years
- For post-grad students: CV with current projects, publications, educational history, and prior employment, plus proposed research plan with names of faculty sponsors.
Students with dependents must also provide proof of the student's relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.) It is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder's passport and visa, along with all other required documents.
While recent changes in visa issuance procedures have increased the time it takes to receive a visa, the standards for eligibility remain the same. Students who have been accepted at a U.S. school and are able to pay the full costs of their study are eligible to apply for a student visa. However, acceptance at a school in the U.S. does not ensure that an applicant will be qualified for a visa.
To qualify for a student visa, a student must demonstrate their qualifications as a student and the seriousness of their course of study in the US. Applicants should be prepared to discuss their reasons for studying in the United States and the details of their intended studies. Just as applicants for Visitor Visas, students must also establish that they are not intending immigrants to the United States.
Caution: By submitting the visa application form you are certifying that all the information contained in it is true and correct. If you misrepresent any facts, you could be barred from entering the United States for life. Please double-check that your answers are accurate and that every question is answered completely.
Entering the United States
Please note that students may not enter the U.S. on an F-1 visa more than 30 days prior to the start date listed on the I-20 form. Continuing students may enter the U.S. at any time before their classes start. For more information on what to expect at the port of entry in the United States, please read the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Student and Exchange Visitor Program Fact Sheet.
Studying in the United States
For more information about applying to schools, undergraduate and graduate scholarships, and studying in the United States, please contact the United States Education Foundation in Pakistan and visit Education USA.
For any other student visa questions, please visit the Department of State's Student Visas website.