International Student Visas are your key to studying abroad

International Student Visa(41068)Credit: Business CatalystTraveling abroad to pursue education is one of the richest and most rewarding experiences students can have. Although online schools are an increasingly popular option for courses of study unavailable in one's own region, they can't match the exposure to different places, people and cultures that often accompanies studying in another country. As a nation leading the world community politically and culturally, and as a country offering many of the best educational opportunities in the world, it's no surprise that the United States are an attractive destination for international students. Hosting students from all over the world not only promotes international education, but leads to enlightening cultural exchange between foreign students and the teachers, fellow students, and friends they meet in America. However, though the U.S. welcomes international students, the process of applying for and obtaining an international student visa is far from simple.

For one thing, juggling visa applications and travel planning can be challenging. The Department of Homeland Security requires that all incoming foreign students enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before the start date of their course of study. Fortunately, students can initiate the visa application process at any time (and are encouraged to do so as early as possible), so generally it should be possible to obtain a visa far enough in advance to plan accordingly.

Students must also be sure to follow the correct procedures and submit the necessary forms for the particular type of student visa they seek. There are three types of visas are available to students depending on whether they are enrolling in a program of academic studies, pursuing practical training or attending a vocational or other non-academic online school — the F1, J1 and M1 types, respectively. Generally the F1 is the most common. However no matter which type visa a student choses to obtain, all international students must meet these basic criteria to qualify:

• Residence abroad: Students must demonstrate they have a residence outside the United States (usually in their home country), to which they intend to return after finishing their studies.

• Departure: Applicants will be required to agree and certify that they intend to leave the United States after their course of study is complete. Different visa types allow for a period between 30 and 60 days after graduation or completion for students to prepare to depart.

• Funding: Students must prove that they (or their parents) possess a sufficient source of funding to pay for their program of studies. This must be documented by appropriate financial records, such as bank statements, tax documents, etc.

Of course, applicants must also be prepared to present relevant academic transcripts and standardized test scores in addition to all other required application forms.

As is usually the case with bureaucratic application processes, obtaining an international student visa to enter the U.S. appears to be a tremendously daunting undertaking. True enough, there's no way around the complex application requirements, fees and paperwork. However, if students can keep their heads and avoid getting bogged down by the details, they'll find the overall process isn't terribly complicated. Students need only plan carefully, research and confirm application requirements, and take the application process one step at a time to embark on what always promises to be an unforgettable foray as an international student.