Do I need an F-1 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.

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 F-1 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 contact us or just comment below!

22 thoughts on “Do I need an F-1 Student Visa to study English in the USA?”

  1. Hi all of you?my name is blaise,so and me also i want to partcipate in your university but i want to know exactly the things needed to arrive in your country.thanks

  2. Hello! This is Han Min Zaw. I’d like to do studying and learning English language in your school. That’s why, i’d like to know which will be prepare from my side and any information about programs.plz! Confirm to me.

    Best Regards
    Han Min Zaw

  3. hi.. i have a question and it is really driving me crazy. I am applying for the first time to the visa in the usa. it will be my first abroad. i wanted to get my visa and while on holidays enroll in a language school to improve my skills. would i need to apply or request anything else when o apply,w or can i paply , get my visa and while in the USA enroll in one of the schools there? what should i do? please help me

  4. HI, i have a friend from Spain who wants to come for the summer to study English. She technically has legal entry to the U.S for a max of 3 months without a visa, but i was wondering if she’d need any type of visa or other requirements before traveling here if she wanted to enroll in an ESL program or english courses in high schools or community college? Thanks in advance.

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