American Visas

Do I need a visa to study in the United States?

All students attending an accredited US college, university, or high school need an F-1 student visa.

Students who are government sponsored or on exchange programs for a semester or year may be issued J-1 visas.

A visa waiver program exists enabling students from 37 participating countries to study in the US without a visa if:

  • The student’s stay is under 90 days
  • The course of study includes no more than 18 hours of instruction per week.

Of all the countries where GetSet has centers, only Taiwan is one of the above mentioned 37 participating countries. Students from China, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines will all need a visa, even for short term study.

How do I apply for a visa?

First you must gain acceptance from an American institution and receive a Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20) from that institution.

You must also provide evidence that you have sufficient funds to pay for tuition, room and board for the duration of your stay. This is essential and the I-20 will not be issued without the appropriate financial documentation.

Once you have received the I-20 from an institution in the USA, you need to make an appointment for a visa interview. Procedures on obtaining an interview vary from country to country.

To find out more information about interview procedure in your country, contact your nearest GetSet center.

You will need to provide, at least, the following items:

  • A valid passport
  • A receipt for the paid non-refundable visa processing fee
  • A I-901 form (a receipt showing that the required SEVIS fee is paid)
  • A notarized bank statement proving that either you or your parents have enough money to cover tuition and living expenses for the duration of your stay and a letter from your parents ,if they are paying, stating they will support you.

What is the SEVIS fee?

Student & Exchange Information System (SEVIS) tracks you from the time you receive the I-20 until you graduate or quit your course of study. This fee is in addition to the regular visa fee. As mentioned above, you can’t apply for the visa unless you have the SEVIS payment receipt

When should I schedule the interview?

Visas can be issued up to 120 days before the scheduled date of departure. Appointments should therefore not be scheduled any earlier than this four month period.

When should I arrive in the USA?

You can arrive in the US no earlier than 30 days before your course start date on the immigration document (I-20). If you will arrive later than the start date on the I-20, you should notify the school so that the arrival date can be deferred.

How long will the duration of my visa be?

Your I-20 is issued based upon the length of study you will pursue. For example, if you are planning to only stay for one semester you will be provided with an I-20 covering the length of one semester. Visas are issued for the same length of time as noted on the I-20.

If you transfer to another college or university following a pathway program, the I-20 is transferred to the new institution.

Can I work in the USA on a student visa?

While under F-1 visa status, you have two options for working in the USA. You are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) after 9 months of study and can work full or part time during vacation periods at a job or internship which is directly tied to or required by a course you are taking. Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows for 18 months of paid work following completion of a program. This work must be directly related to your field of study and you must have completed a minimum of 9 months of study.

How long can I stay in the USA on completion of my studies?

Upon completion of your expected program length, you are eligible for a 60 day period within the US During these 60 days, you are not required to be attending full time classes and may travel within the US as you wish. You may not leave the country during the grace period and re-enter.

If you cancel and do not complete a study program, you are no longer a full time student and forfeit the grace period and must leave the US within 15 days.

Still have questions?

If you still have questions concerning visa fees, working in the US or how to take the interview, contact your local GetSet center for all the answers.