Before School

I want to study in the States!

If you are interested in studying in the United States, research the school or program that fits the program of study that interests you the most. The Department of State’s EducationUSA can help you find out more about the types of education available in the United States.

Only schools certified by the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) have authorization to accept international students. You can use the Study in the States school search page to make sure the school you are interested in is SEVP-certified.

Before School

I’ve been accepted!

  • Get a Form I-20: Once you receive acceptance to an SEVP-certified school and provide proof of financial responsibility as well as any other supporting documents, your designated school official (DSO) will send you a Form I-20. You will receive a Form I-20 from every school that accepts you. Learn more


  • Apply for a Visa to Travel to the United States: You can apply for a visa to travel to the United States at your designated U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Learn more

Before School

Arriving in the United States

Arriving in the United States should be a smooth experience if you have all of your documents with you.

Always hand-carry all of your documents (like your passport, Form I-20, and Form I-94). Do not pack any documents in your checked baggage.

Remember to contact your DSO as soon as possible.

Learn more about what to expect

During School

I am ready to start studying!

There are some important things you need to do in order to maintain your student status while you’re in the United States.

  • You must enroll in a full course of study within 30 days of arriving in the United States.
  • You must make progress toward your educational objective (for example, diploma, degree, or certificate)

Learn more about maintaining your status

During School

What else can I do?

You may be eligible to work or drive while you are in the United States.

  • Driving

Every state has different rules for obtaining a driver’s license. Check out our Driving in the United States page.

  • Working

You may be eligible to work while you’re in the United States.

  • Social Security Number

In order to work in the United States, you will need a Social Security number (SSN).

Talk with your designated school official to find out more information.

After School

I am finishing my program.

  • Staying in the United States

    When you finish your program of study, there may be other opportunities for you in the United States.

    School: If you want to progress your education, apply to a master’s or Ph.D. program. Your DSO can help you with the next steps.

    Work: You may be eligible to participate in post-completion OPT.

    Change of Status: You may apply to USCIS to change your status.

  • Going Home

    If you are an F student, have maintained status and have finished a course of study, you have an additional 60-day period after your program to prepare for departure from the United States.

    The specific period of time that an M student may remain in the United States includes the 30 day grace period.

Looking for more information? Visit the our blog.


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