Student Visa (F-1/M-1)
To study in the United States, the school or exchange program must first accept you into the program. They will then apply for the appropriate documentation to the U.S. government officials on your behalf. These documents, referred to as an I-20 or DS-2019, confirm that you are enrolled in a study program that has been approved to accept foreign students. The nationality noted on the I-20 or DS-2019, MUST match the passport you are presenting for entry into the United States in that status. Additionally, you must have the correct documentation from the program or school to apply for the visa requested. The consulate cannot issue a student visa without this form. Please note: it is very important that you have the I-20 and visa (if required) in hand when entering the U.S. as a student otherwise you will be asked to return to your home country and re-enter with the correct documentation.
Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an F or M student visa, you must first apply to and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Progamme (SEVP) approved school. Visit the Department of Homeland Security Study in the States school search page to search for SEVP-certified schools.
When you are accepted by the U.S. school you plan to attend, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The U.S. school will provide you with a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1/M-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students (Form I-20) to present to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview. If your spouse and/or children intend to reside with you in the United States while you study, they must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee
Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1)
Before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J-1 visa, you must first apply for and be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organization. Visit the Department of State J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program website to learn about program requirements, regulations, and more.
When you are accepted into the exchange visitor program you plan to participate in, you will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Most J-1 Exchange Visitors must pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, Form DS-2019. After your program sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS system, a SEVIS-generated Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (Form DS-2019) is provided to you. All exchange visitors, including their spouses and minor children, must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Each person receives a separate Form DS-2019. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) website to learn more about SEVIS and the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
Step 1. Bermudian Student Visa Exemptions
Bermudian citizens currently do not require a visa to attend school in the United States. Presentation of the I-20 for academic or vocational studies or the DS-2019 for exchange visitor’s form plus proof of financial support to the U.S. Customs and Border Protections officer at the port of entry is sufficient for students to attend school in the United States. You will also need to present your SEVIS fee receipt (see item #3 above). However, many students report that obtaining a visa eases their transition into student life. For instance, it is required in order to obtain a U.S. driver’s license or other documentation in many states.
In order for Bermudians to be eligible for this visa exemption they must be able to present a passport meeting all of the following three (3) criteria:
- A British passport with “Government of Bermuda” written on the front;
- On the data page under nationality have “British Overseas Territory Citizen” or “British Dependent Territories Citizen” listed; and
- Have a Bermudian status stamp that says “Holder is registered as a Bermudian”, “Holder Possesses Bermudian Status” or “Holder is deemed to possess Bermudian status”.
If any one of these three criteria is missing, you may need to go to Bermuda Immigration and have your documents amended. If you do not meet these requirements you must apply for the student visa.
The spouse and children (under age 21) of the student visa applicant are eligible to receive visas to accompany the applicant to the United States. The visas will be of the same category as the principal applicant’s and the fees will be the same. Applicants will have to provide evidence of the relationship when applying for the visas (e.g. marriage or birth certificates). If the family applies for a visa without the principle applicant, they should bring a copy of the I-20 or DS-2019 on which accompanying family members should have been noted. If they are not noted on the principal applicant’s I-20, then the family members must have their own I-20s. Though F-1 students may accept on-campus employment with INS approval, spouses may NOT engage in work or full-time study with dependent visas.
For more information go to Study and Exchange.
Step 2. Check the Validity of Your Passport
Your passport must be 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.
Step 3. Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
- Completed Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
Please note that you must answer EVERY question on the application forms. If the answer to a question is “none,” please write “none”(Do not leave it blank). Incomplete/incorrect forms will be returned and will require you to schedule a new interview appointment.
Important! Many of our visa applicants are completing the DS-160 incorrectly, causing us to postpone their planned visa interview dates.
Step 4. Collect any Supporting Documentation
All Student Visa (F-1/M-1) and Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1) applicants should collect the following:
- A valid passport
- DS-160 confirmation page with uploaded 2 x 2 inch color photo not older than 6 months – with a light or white background
- Student (F-1/M-1) visa applicants should also bring their Form I-20.
- Additional student visa documentation | Hamilton, Bermuda – Consulate General of the United States
- Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee – SEVIS fee receipt (1-901). Please confirm with your U.S. institution if the I-901 has been paid prior to the visa application. If this fee has not been paid you must go to: www.fmjfee.com and follow the instructions.
- Proof of funds demonstrating your ability to finance your education. Please provide proof of scholarship and/or a bank letter confirming the availability of funds equal to or greater than the total amount noted on the I-20.
- Birth and marriage certificates for dependent children and spouse.
- Exchange Visitor (J-1) visa applicants should also bring Form DS-2019, and Form DS-7002 if participating in the J-1 Trainee and Intern categories.
Additional Documents – Student Visa Applicants:
Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of your academic preparation, such as:
- Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and
- Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
- Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
- How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.
Additional Documents – Exchange Visitor Visa Applicants:
Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:
- The purpose of your trip;
- Your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or
- Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.
Step 5. Schedule an Interview Appointment
To schedule an appointment for a non-immigrant visa (NIV) interview, please consult the Embassy’s online NIV Appointment System. Please have your DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form Confirmation Number handy. It is located on your DS-160 confirmation page, in bold print.
New Students – F-1 and M-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your course of study start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States in F-1 or M-1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.
Continuing Students – May renew their visas at any time, as long as they have maintained student status and their SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may enter the United States at any time before their classes start.
Exchange Visitors – Exchange visitors beginning new programs may not enter the United States more than 30 days before their program start date.
Step 6. Pay the MRV Fee
On the day of your interview, please pay the following nonrefundable visa application fees: $ 160 for Student (F-1 /M-1) and Exchange Visitor (J-1) visas.
NOTE: U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are not required to pay application processing fees if participating in a Department of State, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or a Federally funded educational and cultural exchange program which has a program serial number beginning with G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-7 printed on Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. U.S. government sponsored exchange visitor (J visa) applicants and their dependents are also not required to pay applicable issuance fees.
Step 7. Interview for your visa with the Consular Officer
During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.
Step 8. Return to Collect Your Passport and Visa
If you are issued the visa, you will be given a date and time to collect your passport and visa.