DEFINITION of 'Student Visa'

A student visa is a special endorsement that is added to a passport that governments issue to students who are enrolled at qualified educational institutions. Student visas are non-immigrant visas that do not require the holder to obtain citizenship. Any prospective student seeking higher education in another country must obtain a student visa for that country.

BREAKING DOWN 'Student Visa'

Most countries will issue student visas in order to allow foreign students to attend school within their borders. However, in most cases the student must be enrolled at a postsecondary institution of higher learning. Foreign exchange students must therefore usually obtain a different type of visa, such as for temporary residence.

According to the U.S. Department of State website, the first step to receiving permission to attend school in the United States is to apply to a Student and Exchange Visitor-(SEVP)-approved school in the United States.  Next, if the SEVP-approved school accepts your enrollment, the website states that the student will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

After the fee is paid, the SEVP-approved school will issue  a Form I-20.  After the student receives the Form I-20 and register in SEVIS, he or she may apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a student (F or M) visa.  The student must present the Form I-20 to the consular officer when he or she attends the mandatory visa interview.

For international students traveling with a spouse or children, each family member must also enroll in SEVIS, obtain the required forms from the SEVP-approved school and apply themselves fora visa. For immediate family members, SEVIS fees are waived. 

American citizens who wish to go to a school abroad must follow the rules and regulations as per the government of the country where the desired school is located. 

  1. Student Debt

    Student debt refers to loans used to pay for college tuition ...
  2. PLUS Loan

    A PLUS loan is a federal student loan where the parent borrows ...
  3. Commercial Visa

    A commercial visa is a government-issued document that allows ...
  4. Free Application for Federal Student ...

    Students seeking governmental financial aid for college must ...
  5. Student Loan Interest Deduction

    A student loan interest deduction is a tax deduction for interest ...
  6. CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®

    Besides the FAFSA, you may need this online form to apply for ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    A Beginner's Guide to Getting Student Loans

    Follow these 5 steps and you'll be well on your way to knowing which loans to go after – and which college really offers you the best deal.
  2. Managing Wealth

    Student Loan Debt: Which States & Schools Cost Most/Least

    Student loan debt affects 43 million Americans. A new report from LendEDU breaks down the most significant borrower trends by state and school.
  3. Personal Finance

    Why Student Loan Debt Might Be the Next Financial Crisis

    The increasing student loan debt may turn into the next financial crisis in the U.S. Here's why.
  4. Retirement

    Student Loan Debt and Your Retirement Savings

    The burden of student loan debt can hinder the ability to save long term for retirement
  5. Tech

    1 in 5 College Students Used Loans for Cryptocurrency Investments

    Seven in 10 seniors set to graduate this spring have more than $37,000 in student loans. More than 20% used loans to invest in cryptocurrency.
  6. Personal Finance

    10 Ways Student Debt Can Destroy Your Life

    If you're getting a student loan, think critically about how you will manage your loan. Student debt could have a profound negative impact on your life.
  7. Personal Finance

    Student Loan Debt: The Baby Elephant in the Room

    Rising student debt, default rates and an increasing demand for college grads add to economic woes.
  8. Personal Finance

    American Debt: Student Loan Debt Up $21 Billion

    It isn’t news that student loan debt is large and growing, up $21 billion in Q4. What would be news is a solution to the problem.
  9. Personal Finance

    50% of College Students Believe Their Loans Will Be Forgiven by the Federal Government

    Candidate Trump suggested reforms, but will student loans be forgiven by the federal government across-the-board?
  10. Personal Finance

    Does It Make Sense to Go to College in Europe?

    If you're deciding whether to get a degree abroad, first do your research and talk to alumni who have completed the same program.
  1. Can student loans be used to pay rent?

    In most cases, loans can be used for housing costs, but students should still plan to have some cash on hand. Read Answer >>
Trading Center