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Contact UsSherman Immigration Lawyers, P.C.

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 252133
West Bloomfield, Michigan 48325

Street Address
(for courier deliveries only)
26111 W. 14 Mile Road
Suite 104
Franklin, Michigan 48025

Web: VisaLawyer.com
Phone: (248)
Email: info@visalawyer.com


Student and Exchange Visitors

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to study or participate in an exchange program. Before applying for a visa, all student and exchange visitor applicants are required to be accepted and approved for their program. When accepted, educational institutions and program sponsors will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation, to be submitted when applying for a visa. Please select from the choices below for information about student and exchange visitor visas:

  • Student Visas - Academic and vocational (F and M Visas)
  • Students - in Public Schools - F-1 Students Attending High School (Grades 9-12)
Student Applicants (for F-1 and M-1 visas) - Overview
The first step for a prospective nonimmigrant student is being accepted for enrollment in an established school which is SEVP certified. In general, for academic students attending a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory or other academic institutions, including a language training program, an F visa is the appropriate category. For students attending vocational or other recognized nonacademic institutions, other than a language training program, an M visa is generally the appropriate category.

If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study that is recreational, and the course is less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do so on a visitor (B) visa. If your course of study is 18 hours or more a week, you will need a student visa. When traveling to the U.S. to attend seminars, conferences or a program of study for academic credit then you will need a student visa.

Qualifying for a Student Visa
The Immigration and National Act is very specific with regard to the requirements which must be met by applicants to qualify for the student visa. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet student visa requirements including:

- Have a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence;
- Intend to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study; and

Possess sufficient funds to pursue the proposed course of study.

Exchange Program
The Exchange Visitor Program promotes mutual understanding between the people of the United States (U.S.) and the people of other countries by educational and cultural exchanges, under the provisions of U.S. law. Exchange Programs provide an extremely valuable opportunity to experience the U.S. and our way of life, thereby developing lasting and meaningful relationships.

The first step for a prospective nonimmigrant exchange visitor is to be accepted in an established exchange visitor program that is Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified. Visit the Exchange Visitor Program, administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), to learn more about program requirements, regulations and much more. At the conclusion of their program, Exchange Visitor program participants are expected to return to their home countries to utilize the experience and skills they have acquired while in the U.S. Questions regarding an exchange program(s) should be directed to the program sponsor.

In carrying out the responsibilities of the Exchange Visitor Program, the Department of State (DOS) designates public and private entities to act as exchange sponsors. Designated sponsoring organizations facilitate the entry of foreign nationals into the U.S. as exchange visitors to complete objectives of one of the wide variety of exchange visitor program categories shown below. Select from the list below to learn about the program requirements and regulations by category on the ECA Website:

Exchange Visitor Categories

Au pair and EduCare

Short-term Scholar

Camp Counselor


Government Visitor

Student, college/university


Student, secondary

International Visitor (Dept. of State use)

Summer Work Travel



Professor and Research Scholar


Exchange Visitor Pilot Programs

Summer work/travel: Australians

Summer work/travel: New Zealanders

Intern work/travel: Irish

Work/English Study/Travel: South Koreans

2011 Pilot Summer Work Travel Program for Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Ukraine

Overview – About the Exchange Visitor Visa
The exchange visitor (J) nonimmigrant visa category is provided for persons who are approved to participate in exchange visitor programs in the U.S., under provisions of U.S. immigration law. This means that before you can apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a J visa, you must first apply, meet the requirements, and be accepted for one of the Exchange Visitor Program categories through a designated sponsoring organization. If you are accepted as a participant in an exchange program, the sponsor will provide you with information and documents necessary to apply for the J visa to enter the U.S. For a brief overview, visit the America.gov article The Basics on U.S. Visas.

When Can a Visitor Visa Be Used Instead of an Exchange Visitor Visa?
In certain circumstances, some activities that are done on exchange visitor visas are also permitted on business (B-1) or tourist (B-2) visas. Short periods of study, or study which is recreational, and not vocational, and incidental to the trip, is permitted on a visitor visa. The determining factor is the traveler's primary purpose in coming to the U.S. Any kind of study that would earn credit or certification is not permitted on a visitor visa. As an example, if you are taking a vacation to the U.S., and during this vacation you would like to take a two-day cooking class for your enjoyment, and there is no credit earned, then this would be permitted on a visitor visa. A consular officer will determine the visa category you will need based on the purpose of your travel, and your supporting documentation.

Exchange Visitors Cannot Travel on the Visa Waiver Program
Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who want to enter the U.S. temporarily as exchange visitors, must first obtain a an exchange visitor visa. Exchange visitor program participants cannot travel on the VWP, nor can they travel on a visitor (B) visa. Those travelers coming on the VWP to participate in an exchange program may be denied admission to the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. immigration inspector at the port of entry. For more information on VWP, see Visa Waiver Program.

What Is SEVIS and SEVP? What Should You Know about It?
The SEVP monitors school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on nonimmigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the DHS and DOS throughout a student or exchange visitor’s stay in the U.S. Select SEVIS to go to the DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website and learn more.

All exchange visitor applicants must have a SEVIS generated DS-2019 issued by a DOS designated sponsor, which they submit when they are applying for their exchange visitor visa. (2011 Pilot Summer Work Travel Program participants should review information below.) The consular officer verifies the DS-2019 record electronically through the SEVIS system in order to process your exchange visitor visa application to conclusion. Unless otherwise exempt, exchange visitor applicants must pay a SEVIS I-901 Fee to DHS for each individual program. See SEVIS-901 Fee for further information on how to pay the fee, and see the SEVP Fact Sheet for SEVIS fees.

Qualifying for an Exchange Visitor Visa
Exchange visitor applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for an exchange visitor (J) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet requirements, including the following:

- That they plan to remain in the U.S. for a temporary, specific, limited period;
- Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the U.S.;

Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
VisaLawyer.com is an official web site of the:

Sherman Immigration Lawyers, P.C.

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 252133
West Bloomfield, Michigan 48325

Street Address
(for courier deliveries only)
26111 W. 14 Mile Road
Suite 104
Franklin, Michigan 48025

Phone: (248) 851-7575
E-mail Us at:
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