US Student (F-1) Visa and Exchange Student (J-1) Visas

Student F-1 Visa and Exchange Student J-1 VisaA number of our clients know school age children who they would like to sponsor to study in the U.S. For children who are not immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, such as adopted children, step-children, or a a fiance’s children, there are two main options for obtaining a visa. High school students can obtain an F-1 student visa or participate in an exchange program and obtain a J-1 visa. Students under 15 years old may be eligible to obtain an F-1 visa to study in an approved private elementary school.


Student (F-1) Visa Process:

1. Apply to a school.

To obtain an F-1 visa, the student must apply for and be granted admission from an approved school. Approved schools include public high schools, private K-12 schools, colleges, universities and vocational schools. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) maintains a list of approved schools at When choosing a school, you should be aware that foreign students must pay all the costs of their education at U.S. public schools and they will be limited to 12 months of study. The length of study is not limited at private schools.

In addition, the cost of a public high school education varies by school district and will generally be between about $3,000 and $10,000 per student. This amount must be paid by you or another private party even if you are a resident tax payer in the school district where the student will go to school.

2. Pay the SEVIS fee.

Once the student is accepted at the school, they will receive a Form I-20 Certificate Eligibility for Non-immigrant [F-1] Student Status-for Academic and Language Students. Check this form carefully to make sure all the information on it is correct. The student’s name and date of birth must match those listed on their passport.

Then you will need to pay the I-901 Student Exchange Visitor Information Fee (SEVIS Fee). This is $200 for F-1 visa applicants as of September 2011. After you pay the SEVIS Fee you will receive a receipt. Make sure to save the receipt! The student must bring the receipt to the Embassy for the visa interview.

3. Apply for a visa.

After you have been accepted at school and paid the SEVIS Fee you can apply for the F-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. Make sure to leave plenty of time before school starts, but not more than 120 days, when you apply for the visa. The student will not be able to enter the U.S. more than 30 days before school starts.

The student visa application DS-160 is filled out and submitted online along with the visa application fee. Then you must purchase a PIN and make an appointment for the visa interview. For children under the age of 14 the interview requirement may be waived.

During the application process you will need to prove that the student has a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence and intends to depart from the U.S. upon completion of the course of study at the school where they were admitted. You must also show that there are sufficient funds for tuition and living expenses for the student to pursue the proposed course of study.

The student will need to bring all supporting documents to the visa interview. These include passport valid for at least 6 months after the end of the course of study, a passport photo, SERVIS and visa fee receipts, copies of Form I-20 and the information in the visa application, copies of admission documents, including any standardized test results and prior transcripts or diplomas, and financial information showing funds to cover tuition and living expenses. The financial information may be in the form of tax returns and bank records from you or the student’s foreign family.


Exchange Student (J-1) Visas

You can participate in an approved cultural exchange program as as a host family and the high school student can apply to the same program as an exchange student and obtain a J-1 visa. Host families may be eligible for a tax deduction of $50 per month. The State Department maintains a list of approved exchange programs at Exchange programs are available for study in either private or public high schools. To participate in an exchange program the student must:

Be between the ages of 15 and 18-and-sixth-months by the first day of school;

Not have finished more than 11 years of primary and secondary school, not including kindergarten;
Not have previously participated in a secondary school student academic year or semester exchange program or attended school in the United States in either F-1 or J-1 status; and
Meet any other requirements and pay the fees of the chosen exchange program.

Academic and personal requirements and fees vary by exchange program.


Tags: , , , , ,

Category: US Immigration

Siam Legal International

About the Author (Author Profile)

Siam Legal is a full service law firm but it has an extensive range of immigration, corporate, and real estate experience accessible to clients both domestically and internationally. It has offices strategically located throughout the major cities in Thailand including Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Samui and Phuket along with international representative offices in Australia, London and Las Vegas.

Search the blog

Siam Legal WhatsApp Number

Add our LINE ID via QR code

Siam Legal LINE ID
US K-1 Visa Legal Guide