Visa regulations are never ending. We let you know the most important ones.
There are many, many, many moving parts of the visa process regardless of the type you’re applying for. But before you start, you should know that multiple U.S. government agencies are in charge of different parts of your student life. You’ll work with the State department during your application process, and receive your visa from them. But as soon as you land at the airport in the USA, and throughout your stay, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) takes over.
As part of DHS’s regulations, every F-1 and M-1 visa holder must share their information as part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), and they do so through an internet-based system called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Get comfortable with technology, because you’ll need SEVIS throughout your time in the USA.
If you’re awarded an F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa, your spouses and children are also eligible to join you in the USA under an F-2, M-2, or J-2 visa. Plus, your children can attend school as well, so you can be study buddies.
When you get your visa, it will have an expiration date listed on it. However, that date is not necessarily the same as the length of time you can legally be in the USA. When you arrive in the USA, a Customs and Border Patrol officer (part of DHS) will check your visa information and then complete the arrival Form I-94 with the admitted-until date that he or she thinks is appropriate. This is the part that matters: The admitted-until date is your official deadline for leaving the USA, whether it’s before your visa expiration date or not. If you stay in the USA past that date, you could have your visa voided or cancelled or be ineligible for future visas.
There are dozens of visas available for non-U.S. citizens and residents, and you might end up loving the USA so much that you want to apply for one of them. You’ll most likely need to apply to your visa from your home country, so start researching now so you can get back to our sugary cereals as soon as possible.