U.S. Student Visas Requirements - Definitions

Below are some definitions related to the requirements you would need to meet in order to qualify for a student visa in the U.S.



Your intentions in coming to the U.S. with a student visa must truly be to study. The U.S. government is on the lookout for people who use a student visa as a means to gain entry to the U.S. for other purposes. This visa has come under particular scrutiny since the attacks of September 11, 2001 because some of the terrorists were in the United States on student visas.

Additionally, authorities are always concerned with preventing people from entering the U.S. who have no intention of leaving. Therefore, it is critical that when applying for a student visa you provide sufficient evidence of your intentions to leave the U.S. at the completion of your studies. Unfortunately, many people fail to offer enough supporting documents to the authorities to establish temporary intentions under the student visa requirements and, consequently, their visa is denied.

An immigration attorney can assist you with providing accurate and adequate evidence to support your intentions of remaining in the U.S. temporarily.



The good news is that you don't have to stay in school during normal school vacations. Also, on-campus employment under terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship can be considered part of your full course of study. Other than the general rules, however, the time requirements of full-time enrollment vary depending on the type of program you're enrolled in, as shown below:

Time requirements of full-time enrollment depending on type of program of studies

Undergraduate college or university programs:

If you are an undergraduate at a U.S. college or university, you must be enrolled in at least 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per term. An exception to this is if you are in your last term and need fewer than 12 semester hours to graduate.

Postgraduate college or university programs:

If you are a graduate student, full-time studies are whatever the designated school official says they are. For example, a graduate student may be working on a dissertation and taking no classes at all, but still be considered a full-time student, if the designated school official approves.

Programs of specialized college-level schools:

When your course of studies is at a specialized school offering recognized college-level degrees or certificates in language, liberal arts, fine arts, or other nonvocational programs, you must be attending at least 12 hours of class work per week. This means 12 hours by the clock, not 12 semester hours.

Any other language, liberal arts, fine arts, or other nonvocational training program:

At least 18 clock hours of attendance a week if the dominant part of the course of study consists of classroom instruction, or at least 22 clock hours a week if the dominant part of the course of study consists of laboratory work.

High school, middle school, and primary schools:

These students must attend the minimum number of class hours per week that the school requires for normal progress toward a graduation. However, the school may recommend a lesser load for a foreign student with a limited understanding of English.

Technical, vocational, or other nonacademic programs:

To be classified as a full-time student in a technical, vocational, or other type of nonacademic program, you must attend at least 18 clock hours per week, if the courses consist mostly of classroom study. If the courses are made up primarily of laboratory work, 22 clock hours per week is the minimum.



To qualify for a student visa, you must know the English language well enough to pursue your studies effectively.

Most U.S. colleges and universities will not admit students whose native language is not English until they first pass an English proficiency test such as the TOEFL. Tests can be arranged in your home country.Your chosen school in the U.S. will tell you if such a test is required.

Generally, consular officers lets each school decide for itself who is and is not qualified to effectively study courses conducted in English. However, during the consular interview at which your student visa is approved or denied, the official will be listening closely to your ability to understand and communicate in English.

Occasionally, even when a school is willing to admit you without strong knowledge of English, the U.S. consulate may refuse to issue a student visa because it thinks your English is not good enough. You may still be able to satisfy the consulate if the school you plan to attend is willing to supply English language tutoring or, alternatively, offers a course of studies in your native language.



You must show that you have enough money to complete your entire course of studies without working. At the time you apply for a student visa, you must have enough cash on hand to cover all first-year expenses.

In addition, you must be able to show a reliable source of money available to pay for subsequent years. This is normally accomplished by having your parents or other close relatives guarantee financial assistance throughout your education.

Speaking with a skilled immigration attorney can assist in determining the best evidence to support this ability to finance your education. Call our Florida Student Visa Attorney at NeJame Law today at 407-500-0000 to apply for a student visa. You may also fill out the online form located on this page or send us an e-mail at Immigration@NeJameLaw.com. We are committed and honored to assist you with all of your immigration needs.