Required Documentation

There is much documentation needed to study in the U.S., including:

  • Travel documents
  • Visa
  • Passport, including a valid entry stamp
  • I-20 or DS-2019
  • Employment Authorization Document (“EAD Card”)

Because there are so many types, visa requirements can be confusing. Below is a list and basic definition of each type of visa.

  • F-1 Visa
    • An F-1 visa is for full-time international students in the United States.
    • They can only be obtained from U.S. Embassies and consulates outside of the U.S.
    • In order to be eligible for an F-1 visa, you must obtain a form 1-20 from the U.S. institution where you will studying. Your 1-20 will show that you will have financial support (from yourself or elsewhere, such as family) during your stay in the U.S.
  • J-1 Visas
    • A J-1 visa is for international students studying the in United States as part of an exchange program.
    • Students with a J-1 visa must be sponsored by an educational organization, corporation or a section of government.

Beginning in 2011, students from some countries must receive an offer of employment from a sponsoring party. These sponsor include educational organizations, corporations or a section of government.  You must get this sponsorship before you apply for a J-1 Visa. These countries include:

      • Bulgaria
      • Russia
      • Romania
      • Ukraine
      • Moldova
      • Belarus (the above-mentioned educational organization, corporation or section of government) prior to applying for a J-1 visa.

Students from these countries should allow extra time for the application process.

  • H-1B Visas
    • An H-1 B visa is typically obtained for employment in the United States. It is not often used by students.
    • To get an H-1B visa, you must be working in a special occupation. These jobs include:
      • Engineering
      • Biotechnology
      • Medicine
      • Law
      • If you are going to study any of these subjects, research H-1 visas. Become familiar with the process of obtaining one.
  • B Visas
    • B Visas are for international individuals who visit the U.S. temporarily.
    •  There are two types:
      • B-1 visa. This is used by people traveling to the U.S. for business.
      • B-2 visa. This is used by people traveling to the U.S. for purposes that are not business-related.
  • I-20 or DS-2019
    • The I-20 is a form distributed by the school or university where you’ll be studying.
    • It contains information for the Department of Homeland Security to process and issue your visa.
    • The form DS-2019 does the same thing for THOSE who need a J-1 visa.
    • The form DS-2019 verifies your information and information on your visa sponsor.
  • Employment Authorization Document
    • Your Employment Authorization Document (also called the “EAD Card”) permits international individuals to legally work in the United States.
    • You can learn more about employment in the “Employment options and protocols” section.