Students (F/M-Visa)

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Students (F/M-Visa)

The Immigrant and Nationality Act provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. The "F" visa is for academic studies, and the "M" visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies.

Scholastic Preparation
The student visa applicant must have successfully completed a course of study normally required for enrollment. The student, unless coming to participate exclusively in an English language training program, must either be sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study, or the school must have made special arrangements for English language courses or teach the course in the student's native language.

Applicants must also prove that sufficient funds are or will be available from an identified and reliable financial resource to defray all living and school expenses during the entire period of anticipated study in the United States. Specifically, applicants must prove they have enough readily available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study, and that adequate funds will be available for each subsequent year of study. The "M-1" student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.

An applicant coming to the United States to study must be accepted for a full course of study by an educational institution approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The student visa applicant must have successfully completed a course of study normally required for enrollment. The student, unless coming to participate exclusively in an English language training program, must either be sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study, or the school must have made special arrangements for English language courses or teach the course in the student's native language. The school must send to the applicant a Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant ("F-1") Student Status for Academic and Language Students. The nonacademic or vocational institution must send to the student a Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant ("M-1") Student Status for Vocational Students. Educational institutions must obtain Forms I-20A-B and I-20M-N from the USCIS.

The nonimmigrant visa application Form DS-156 lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a student, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved.

Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of residence.

Each applicant for a student visa must submit:

  • a DS-156 Electronic Visa Application Form (EVAF) for each applicant, regardless of age, completed online at, and signed by the applicant.

  • all applicants seeking F, J and M visas must complete and submit a form DS-158 (Contact Information And Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant), in addition to form DS-156 and, if necessary, formDS-157(Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application)

  • a passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least for the duration of the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States for German citizens or six months beyond for some other nationalities. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application.

  • one recent photograph for each applicant, including children.

  • for the "F" applicant, a Form I-20A-B. For the "M" applicant, a Form I-20M-N.

  • visa payment confirmation: evidence of having paid the non-refundable visa processing fee for each application.

  • evidence of your intention to leave the USA after a temporary stay.

  • a self-addressed, stamped (EURO stamps only!) envelope large enough for your passport and all submitted documents (regular mail, please).


Student visa applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country, which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they will depart the United States when they have completed their studies. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has authority to deny admission. Also, the period for which the bearer of a student visa is authorized to remain in the United States is determined by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, not the consular officer. At the port of entry, a CBP official must authorize the traveler's admission to the U.S. At that time the Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is validated.

All applicants for F-Visa/M-Visa must submit their application and supporting documents IN PERSON in Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich.

All applicants must call the Visa Information Service at 0900 1-850055 (EUR 1,86/min.) to schedule an appointment to appear for administrative processing, biometric collection and a personal interview with a consul.

This allows us to better manage each day's workload and should create faster processing and a more efficient visit to the consulate.

We understand the specific needs of applicants in this group. In some cases, applicants have a short period to report to their US exchange program, school, aircraft or vessel. To ensure that everyone meets their deadline, a significant number of appointments are reserved specifically for J, F, M and C1/D visa applicants each day. We will carefully monitor the schedule to minimize appointments backlogs. However, since the number of applications we may receive is unknown, we encourage applicants to call for an appointment as early as possible.

How Long Will It Take?
All Visa applicants should anticipate spending several hours at the consulate or embassy. If, at the conclusion of the interview, the consul determines that you qualify for a visa, your passport and visa will be processed and returned via German Post. Please bring a self-addressed, stamped envelope with you to the interview for this purpose. Processing currently averages 10 working days plus mailing.

How Far in Advance Should I Apply?
Given the processing times described above, please apply far in advance of your travel date. US law does not allow us to issue F or M visas more than 120 days before the applicant's program start date for students entering the United States for the first time.

Continuing students may apply for new F or M visas at any time, as long as they have been maintaining student status and their SEVIS records are current.
Continuing students may also enter the United Staes at any time before their classes start.

J visas may be issued as soon as the DS-2019 is issued. Please note, however that United States Department of Homeland Security regulations state that holders of F, M and J Nonimmigrant Visas will not be admitted to the United States more than 30 days prior to the beginning of their program start date, as listed on their Form I-20 for students or DS-2019 for exchange visitors.

Security Notice for Visa Applicants
In order to ensure everyone's safety and to ensure that security screening does not delay visa interviews, electronic devices (cell phones, PDAs, Laptops, etc.), may not be brought into the consulate or embassy. Backpacks, suitcases, attaché cases, and strollers are also not permitted. However, you may bring in your wallet or purse. Security personnel cannot store items for visa applicants and will confiscate all weapons. We therefore suggest that all such items be left at home, in a locked car, or with a friend or relative who remains outside the premises. Documents relevant to the visa application are the only items that we encourage applicants to bring with them. Your cooperation will help to ensure everyone's safety and will help us to ensure that we are able to interview you as quickly as possible.

The SEVIS Program
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has introduced a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor System) I-901 fee for all applicants applying for F, J and M visas with initial I-20 or DS-2019 forms issued on or after September 1, 2004.
SEVIS is an internet-based system that will track F, M and J visa participants (and their family members) from the time they receive their initial documentation (either an I-20 or a DS-2019) until they graduate/leave school or conclude/leave program.
More information, download form, fees and fee payment procedures or use our contact form

This is a official information of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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