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International Students USA

What is a Visa?

A nonimmigrant visa allows a non-U.S. citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request permission from a U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer to enter the country. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Based on your circumstances and country of origin, you may qualify for different types of visas. For more information please visit the U.S. Department of State website.


Certain travelers are allowed to enter the United States without a visa, such as citizens of countries which participate in the ESTA Visa Waiver Program (VWP), as well as citizens of Canada and Bermuda. For more information, please visit the ESTA Visa Waiver Program website.


Because our classes are less than 18 hours per week and qualify as “personal enrichment” courses, individuals coming to the U.S. as tourists on B-2 visitor visas may be allowed take our courses during their stay. For more information on visitor visas, please visit the U.S. Department of State websitePlease note that we are not able to support student applications for F or M student visas or provide I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status forms at this time.


Generally, citizens of other countries may visit the United States provided they have a valid B-1/B-2 visa or are eligible for the ESTA Visa Waiver Program (VWP). When entering the country, immigration officers ask visitors to explain the purpose of your visit and where you intend to stay. The primary purpose of a visitor’s trip must qualify as tourism, pleasure, business, or medical treatment. Once admitted in valid B-1, B-2, or VWP status, visitors have restricted permissions for what they can do while in the United States. Several government agencies have clarified these regulations to allow for recreational study, as long as the study is incidental to the primary purpose of the visit (tourism or business). Permissible recreational study for visitors is viewed as casual and short-term, toward a personal hobby or interest. Studies must not exceed 18 hours per week and cannot be the main reason for visiting the US.

Educational institutions may enroll any successful applicant to their programs, regardless of their immigration status, and are not required to verify their permission to study. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are maintaining status and have appropriate permissions for your activities. You may also contact your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for guidance. Consular officials will be able to evaluate the primary purpose of your visit and whether the proposed study is permitted as incidental to visitor status.


You may apply for a B-2 visitor visa by contacting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. Please keep in mind that an interview with an official may be required, and that administrative processing times may be 60 days or more from your date of application.

To apply, first gather the required documentation and prepare for your interview. Items you must bring to your visa application interview include:

  • Passport - Your passport must be unexpired and valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States, unless exempt by country-specific agreements. If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application - Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Visa Application Fee Payment Receipt - If 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 the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

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