Visas for students and visitors

If you are a foreign citizen who wants to study in or visit the United States, you need a visa. Learn more about getting student and visitor visas.

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Student visas

Student visas allow foreign students to study in the U.S. The F1 visa is a student visa for education, including for:

  • Community college
  • Undergraduate schools
  • Graduate schools

To get a student visa, you must have a relationship with a university. So, if you want to attend school in the U.S., your first step is to apply to the school. After you are accepted, the U.S. school or an agency in your home country helps you get the correct visa. To get a visa, you may need to prove that you have access to enough money to pay for school and support yourself.

While you have a student visa, there are restrictions on your education and employment. You must maintain a certain course load, and many employment options are not allowed. To learn more, talk to the office at your school that supports international students.

Getting a student visa is not a path to citizenship. If you want to work in the U.S. after finishing school, you need to get visa status that authorizes you to work. Learn more about getting a work permit.

Visitor visas

If you are a foreign citizen, you may need a visa to enter the U.S.

If you want to immigrate to the U.S. permanently, you need an immigrant visa for permanent residence.

If you want to visit the U.S. temporarily, you may need one of these visitor visas:

  • B-1 Visa. To enter the U.S. temporarily for business (like attending a conference or negotiating a contract), you need a B-1 visa.
  • B-2 Visa. To enter the U.S. temporarily for tourism (like taking a vacation, seeing relatives or attending a sports match), you need a B-2 visa.

The Visa Waiver Program lets citizens of eligible countries visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. Learn more about the Visa Waiver Program. 

If you are from a country that is not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, you should contact the U.S. Embassy for visa application instructions. You may need to show proof of your plans to return home (like owning a home or having family in your home country).

If you are in the U.S. already, and your friend or relative abroad wants to visit you here, tell them to contact the U.S. Embassy for visa application instructions.

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