Disclaimer: The guidance we have provided you through this article is true as on 19-March-2021. Changes with respect to rules, regulations, and law surrounding studying in the USA may happen anytime and to keep yourself updated on this matter, it is better you visit the official or the USA government website: https://www.usa.gov/.
About the US
The largest international student population is in the US, with more than one million students choosing the country for pursuing their higher education and enhancing their life experiences. This number was just 35,000 in the 1950s! Since then, overseas education in the US has come a long way. The number of international students visiting the US is expected to increase further in the coming years as the universities here have the distinction of providing high-class education facilities and career opportunities to students. Also, the USA is diverse in climate and geography, making it an ideal destination for foreign students to gain exposure and enjoy international experiences at the same time.
Being a huge country, international students can experience a variety of climates, depending on where they wish to pursue their studies. However, the country, in general, enjoys a continental climate, with summers being hot and winters being cold. The US climate also varies depending on the distance from the sea and latitude. The West Coast is exceptions to this trend as the climates is generally Mediterranean in the southern part and damp and cool in the northern part. The climate is muggy and hot in summer and mild in winter on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. However, in Florida, the climate is generally tropical. A large portion of the country can experience cold waves in winter as the cold air masses that come from Canada do not find any obstacles on their way to the US. Similarly, the summer waves, especially in inland areas can be quite intense.
The university systems of the United States are among the finest in the world. There are outstanding educational programs in almost every discipline a student can think of. At the undergraduate level, brilliant programs exist in professional as well as traditional fields. For students enrolled in graduate programs, they get an excellent opportunity to work alongside some of the brightest minds in their chosen area of study. Studying in the USA gives foreign students plenty of educational opportunities and be involved with exclusive research. Also, students pursuing US degrees are recognized globally for their quality and excellence.
List of Universities in the USA – Top 200
  • Princeton University
  • Harvard University
  • Columbia University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Yale University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • Duke University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Brown University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Rice University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Cornell University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of California – Los Angles
  • Emory University
  • University of California – Berkeley
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • University of South California
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Virginia
  • University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
  • Wake Forest University
  • New York University
  • Tufts University
  • University of California – Santa Barbara
  • University of Florida
  • University of Rochester
  • Boston College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of California – Irvine
  • University of California – San Diego
  • University of California – Davis
  • William & Mary
  • Tulane University
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Illinois – Urbana – Champaign
  • Lehigh University
  • Northeastern University
  • Pepperdine University
  • University of Miami
  • Ohio State University – Columbus
  • Purdue University – West Lafayette
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Santa Clara University
  • Villanova University
  • Florida State University
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Maryland – College Park
  • University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Campus
  • University of Washington
  • Pennsylvania State University – University Park
  • Rutgers University – New Brunswick
  • University of Connecticut
  • Fordham University
  • George Washington University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Massachusetts – Amherst
  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Clemson University
  • Virginia Tech
  • American University
  • Baylor University
  • Indiana University – Bloomington
  • Yeshiva University
  • Brigham Young University – Provo
  • Gonzaga University
  • Howard University
  • Michigan State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Texas Christian University
  • University of Denver
  • Binghamton University – SUNY
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Elon University
  • Marquette University
  • Stony Brook University –SUNY
  • University at Buffalo –SUNY
  • University of California – Riverside
  • University of Iowa
  • University of San Diego
  • Auburn University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California – Merced
  • University of California – Santa Cruz
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Utah
  • Arizona State University – Tempe
  • Clark University
  • Miami University – Oxford
  • Saint Louis University
  • Temple University
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Oregon
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of South Florida
  • Creighton University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • University of Illinois – Chicago
  • University of Tennessee
  • Iowa State University
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Rutgers University – Newark
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Vermont
  • Chapman University
  • Clarkson University
  • DePaul University
  • Drake University
  • Gallaudet University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Seattle University
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Missouri
  • Drexel University
  • The New School
  • Seton Hall University
  • Simmons University
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • University of Oklahoma
  • University of St. Thomas (MN)
  • University of the Pacific
  • The Catholic University of America
  • Duquesne University
  • George Mason University
  • Samford University
  • San Diego State University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • University of Tulsa
  • Colorado State University
  • Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Oregon State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rutgers University – Camden
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Belmont University
  • Hofstra University
  • Mercer University
  • University at Albany – SUNY
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Maryland – Baltimore County
  • University of Mississippi
  • Valparaiso University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Adelphi University
  • Kansas State University
  • St. John’s University (NY)
  • University of Hawaii – Manoa
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Rhode Island
  • CUNY – City College
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Montclair State University
  • Ohio University
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • University of Houston
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Massachusetts – Lowell
  • University of St. Joseph
  • Washington State University
  • Biola University
  • Chatham University
  • Florida International University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Pacific University
  • Rowan University
  • University of Detroit Mercy
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of North Carolina – Wilmington
  • Bethel University (MN)
  • California State University – Fresno
  • Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Maryville University of St. Louis
  • Robert Morris University
In the United States, there exists a flexible system of minors and majors in the education system. This education arrangement presents a chance for students to expand their horizons and figure out where their true talents and strengths lie. For MBA and Postgraduate students, the outstanding courses in the US provide the flexibility of staying in the country for up to three years after the completion of the course. The work opportunity for undergraduate students remains in different fields, like engineering, science, maths, and technology.
Benefits of Studying in the USA
  • Studying in the USA gives students an opportunity to choose from a wide range of
    programs
  • Students can study at some of the most prestigious institutes on the planet
  • Great cultural mix and exposure
  • Improve your English skills
  • Academic flexibility
  • You are sure to get international experience for your resume
  • Gain a whole new perspective on the world
  • Make friends from different corners of the world
  • US education enhances your career prospects
  • Enjoy the US student lifestyle

Get in touch with Edument today to get comprehensive and personalized support for studying in the USA. We work closely with students in identifying suitable courses and universities. We also try exploring various career opportunities for students so that their future is bright and secure. For students wishing to study in the US, we also provide support for students in preparing them for examinations, student visa applications, and the admission processes.

The application process for studying in the US varies according to the chosen institution. Typically, students are required to fill an online application form and use a credit card for paying the admission fee. Students are also required to prepare a Statement of Purpose or Essay, Resume, Recommendation Letters, Transcripts and Mark Sheets, and Test Score Sheets for completing the application process for a US university.

US Study Visa

Before you can apply for a student visa, you must be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F visa or an M visa.

To enter the United States to attend:

You need the following

visa category:

University or college

F

High School

Private elementary school

Seminary

Conservatory

Another academic institution, including a language training program

Vocational or other recognized non-academic institution, other than a language training program

M

Students cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas

A student visa (F or M) is required to study in the United States. Foreign nationals may not study after entering on a visitor (B) visa or through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), except to undertake recreational study (non-credit) as part of a tourist visit.

For short periods of recreational study, a Visitor (B) visa may be appropriate. A visitor (B) visa permits enrolment in a short recreational course of study, which is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate.

Study leading to the U.S. conferred degree or certificate is never permitted on a visitor (B) visa, even if it is for a short duration. For example, a student in a distance learning program that requires a period of time on the institution’s U.S. campus must obtain a student (F or M) visa prior to entering the United States.

Student Acceptance at a SEVP Approved School
The first step is to apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States.  After the SEVP-approved school accepts your enrolment, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. The SEVP-approved school will issue you a Form I-20.  After you receive Form I-20 and register in SEVIS, you may apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a student (F or M) visa. You must present Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
If your spouse and/or children intend to live with you in the United States while you study, they must also enrol in SEVIS, obtain individual Form I-20s from the SEVP-approved school, and apply for a visa (but they do not pay the SEVIS fee).
Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
Visit the Department of State EducationUSA website (https://educationusa.state.gov/) to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, and an overview of the application process. You can also visit the DHS Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.
How to Apply
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the embassy or consulate website (https://www.usembassy.gov/).
Complete the Online Visa Application
  • Online Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – You must: 1) complete the online visa application, and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo –You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160.
Schedule an Interview
Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.

If you are age:

Then an interview is:

13 and younger

Generally not required

14 – 79

Required (some exceptions for renewals)

80 and older

Generally not required

You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.
Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early.
New Students – Student (F and M) visas for new students can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date for a course of study.  However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on your student visa for more than 30 days before the start date.
Continuing Students – Student (F and M) visas for continuing students may be issued at any time, as long as the student is currently enrolled at a SEVP-approved school or institution and in SEVIS.  Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before classes start.
Prepare for Your Interview
  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.
  • Review the instructions available on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (https://www.usembassy.gov/) where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.
Gather Required Documentation
Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:
  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
  • Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in an appropriate format.
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20 – Your school will send you a Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign Form I-20.  All students must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Your spouse and/or minor children, if they intend to live in the United States with you, will each receive an individual Form I-20.
Additional Documentation May Be Required

A consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a student visa and may request additional documents, such as evidence of:

  • Your academic preparation, such as:

    o Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and

    o Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school.

Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and how you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.

Attend Your Visa Interview
A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a student visa. You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing.  The consular officer will inform you if this is required.
After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality) and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.
Entering the United States
A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.  A visa only allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.
After you present your passport, visa, and Form I-20 at the port-of-entry, a CBP official will make this decision.  Once you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
Extending Your Stay
Foreign students in the United States with F visas must depart the United States within 60 days after the program end date listed on Form I-20, including any authorized practical training. Foreign students may request an extension through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
Post Study Work Routes
International students in the US with an F-1 visa must be in the country to apply for the Optional Practical Training (OPT).
The OPT is a student visa extension that allows eligible international graduates to work in the US for up to one year after completing their studies. STEM graduates get an additional two years.
This temporary pass allows international graduates to remain in the US to apply for jobs and find a company to sponsor their employment visa.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.
Types of OPT

All OPT must be directly related to your major area of study. If you are an F-1 student, you may be eligible to participate in OPT in two different ways:

  • Pre-completion OPT:  You may apply to participate in pre-completion OPT after you have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at a college, university, conservatory, or seminary that has been certified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to enrol F-1 students. You do not need to have had F-1 status for the one full academic year; you can satisfy the “one full academic year” requirement even if you had another non-immigrant status during that time. If you are authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT, you may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session. You may work full time when school is not in session.
  • Post-completion OPT:  You may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after completing your studies. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full time. If you participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from your post-completion OPT authorization period. For example, if you participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT; you would be eligible for only up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.
STEM OPT Extension

If you have earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, you may apply for a 24-month extension of your post-completion OPT employment authorization if you:

  • Are an F-1 student who received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List  (PDF);
  • Are employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify; and
  • Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on your STEM degree.
Applying for OPT

Generally, you must:

  1. Request that your designated school official (DSO) at your academic institution recommend the OPT. Your DSO will make the recommendation by endorsing your Form I20, Certification of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status, and making the appropriate notation in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  2. Properly file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with
    USCIS, accompanied by the required fee and the supporting documentation as described in the form instructions.
When to apply

If you are
applying
based on a…

For…

Then you…

STEM degree

Pre-completion
OPT

  •       Must apply after your DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
  •       May apply up to 90 days before you complete a full academic year; as long as you do not start OPT employment until you complete one full academic year.

Initial post-
completion
OPT

  •     Must apply within 30 days of your DSO entering the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
  •     May apply up to 90 days before you complete your degree, but no later than 60 days after you complete your degree.

STEM OPT
extension

  •   Must apply within 60 days of your DSO entering the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
  •     May apply up to 90 days before your current OPT employment authorization expires.

Non-STEM degree

Pre-completion
OPT

  •     Must apply after your DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
  •     May apply up to 90 days before you complete a full academic year; as long as you do not start OPT employment until you complete one full academic year.

Post-
completion OPT

  •   Must apply within 30 days of your DSO entering the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record, and
  •   May apply up to 90 days before you complete your degree, but no later than 60 days after you complete your degree.
You may begin your OPT only after the US government approves your Form I-765 and you receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).


If you file your STEM OPT extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, the US government will automatically extend your employment authorization for 180 days. This automatic 180-day extension ceases once USCIS adjudicates your STEM OPT extension application.
Financial Requirements for Student Visa
Prospective F-1 or M-1 students must have the financial resources to live and study in the United States. This includes being able to cover the cost of tuition, books, living expenses and travel. Designated school officials (DSOs) must collect evidence of the student’s financial ability before issuing a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status.”

Additionally, prospective students must bring their evidence of financial ability when applying for their student visa with the U.S. Department of State. It is also advised to have the evidence on-hand when entering the country at a U.S. port of entry, in the event a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer asks to review it.
EVIDENCE OF FINANCIAL ABILITY
A prospective student must have financial evidence showing that they or a sponsor has sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of intended study. Evidence of financial ability includes but is not limited to:

  • Family bank statements.
  • Documentation from a sponsor.
  • Financial aid letters.
  • Scholarship letters.
  • Letter from an employer showing annual salary.
Certain Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools may have specific requirements for acceptable forms of evidence. To verify if a form of financial evidence is acceptable, contact the school’s international student office.
FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

While international students are not eligible for U.S. government-funded financial aid, sometimes SEVP-certified schools offer financial aid and scholarships for their F and M students. Here are some resources for finding a scholarship and financial aid opportunities:

  • Check with your SEVP-certified school: The United States has many different types of colleges and universities, which means that financial aid options vary. Some schools offer assistance based on financial need, while others offer academic and athletic scholarships. Once you receive your acceptance, contact your school’s financial aid office and DSO to find out what type of aid you might qualify for and how to apply.
  • Visit EducationUSA: EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network with advising centres in more than 170 countries and represents the largest group of
    advisers committed to promoting accredited U.S. higher education institutions. You can visit an advising centre near you or visit the EducationUSA website. The website offers a variety of information about the international student process in the United States, including how to finance your studies.

If you have the burning desire to study in the USA, we can provide you with support, counselling, and personalized guidance to ensure you reach your objectives. We have the experience and know-how to secure admission to various US colleges and schools. Contact us for more details and help.

Disclaimer
Contact Edument and figure out how your first steps in seeking admission to a USA university should be. We recommend students to visit the official USA government website https://www.usa.gov/ to get updated details about studying in the USA. As the rules and procedures surrounding education in the USA keep changing, it is always a great idea to monitor the updated or latest news and take steps accordingly.

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