Do I need an F1 Student Visa to study English in the USA?

One of the most common questions asked by international students wishing to study in the United States is “Do I need an F-1 Student Visa to study English in the USA?” Whether you will need an F-1 (student) visa to study in the United States depends primarily on two factors: your immigration status and the type of program you wish to enroll in.

F-1 Student Visa to study in the USA

First, let’s take a look at the immigration status factor. Permanent residents (green card holders) and those with most visa types that authorize employment, such E and H visas, may study either full-time or part-time in any type of program without restrictions. However, those participating in the visa waiver program, also known as ESTA, may only study part-time and only during the period of time they are authorized to remain in the United States as temporary visitors, which is typically no more than six months. If temporary visitors wish to engage in full-time study in an academic or language program, then they must apply for and receive an F-1 (student) visa.

Next, let’s consider the type of program you want to study in. If you are interested in a technical or vocational program that leads to a certificate or diploma, then you must apply for and receive an M-1 visa, which is valid for up to one year. Examples of programs that require an M-1 visa are certificate and diploma programs in the allied health fields (such as medical technician programs), at pilot training schools and at culinary institutes.

On the other hand, if you want to study full time in an academic program at a college or university, then you will need an F-1 (student) visa. You will also need an F-1 (student) visa for full-time study in an ESL (English as a Second Language) program. Full-time study at a college or university means being enrolled for at least 12 credit hours per semester, while full-time study in an ESL program usually requires at least 18 hours of English instruction per week. In all cases, the program or institution to which you apply must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, also known as SEVP, which is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. Under U.S. immigration law, only SEVP-approved academic and language institutions are authorized to issue the form I-20, which is required in order to apply for an F-1 (student) visa.

Do I need an F1 Student Visa to study English in the USA?

Language On English Schools offers a Semi-Intensive English Program which is perfect for many nonimmigrant students including those participating in ESTA (Visa Waiver Program) who are looking for a recreational English course. In addition, we offer an Intensive English Program which is qualified to enroll nonimmigrant students.

If you have any questions and need to know if you need an F-1 Student Visa to study English in the USA, please email us or just comment below.

Author: Richard E. McDorman

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