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Want to Study in the States? Apply to an SEVP-certified School!

October 4, 2016

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) does not accept applications from international students to study in the United States.

If you want to study in the United States as an F-1 or M-1 international student, the first step is to apply directly to an Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school.

To search for an SEVP-certified school, use the Study in the States School Search tool. This tool allows you to search for schools by name, location, U.S. state, education type or visa type. It also features an interactive map that makes it easy to locate a school’s physical location in the United States.

After you apply and are accepted to an SEVP-certified school, you need to follow these steps before you arrive in the United States to begin your program:

  1. Obtain a Form I-20: After you receive acceptance to an SEVP-certified school, the school’s designated school official will send you a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”

    You will receive a Form I-20 from every SEVP school that accepts you. It is important you only use the Form I-20 from the school you plan to attend when following the next steps and entering the country.
  2. Pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee: All international students must pay the I-901 SEVIS Fee before applying for a student visa. Visit to submit your I-901 SEVIS Fee. After the payment is processed, you will need to print your receipt and bring it with you when you apply for a student visa.

    You will need the SEVIS ID listed on your Form I-20 in order to pay your I-901 SEVIS Fee. Once you print your receipt, double-check that the SEVIS ID listed on the receipt matches the SEVIS ID on your Form I-20. If it does not, contact SEVP.
  3. Apply for a student visa: After receiving your Form I-20 and printing your I-901 SEVIS Fee receipt, you will need to apply and receive a student visa from a designated U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

    To receive a visa, you must participate in an interview and have all required documentation with you. Remember, a student visa does not guarantee you entry into the United States. You must also have all required documentation with you when you arrive at the U.S. port of entry. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will review your documents, ask any follow-up questions and determine whether you can enter the United States.

To learn more about how to study in the United States, visit the Study Guide to the States.

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