Guide to applying for a student visa

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Step 1: Make sure that you have already been accepted into an educational institute in the US

Before you apply for a student visa to the US, you are required to be accepted and approved by a school or program in the US. These educational institutions will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when you are applying for your student visa.1

Step 2: Find out which type of student visa to apply for

All visa applicants, including children, are required to pay a visa application fee. Whether or not your visa is approved, the visa application fee must be paid and is non-refundable. You will be issued a receipt after paying the application fee. This receipt is valid for one year from the date of payment. You need to schedule your visa appointment/interview while the receipt is valid, which means you have to schedule your interview within one year of paying your fee. If your receipt expires and you have not scheduled your interview, you will need to pay the application fee again to schedule an interview.2

There are three types of student visa that may apply to you:

  1. F-1 Student Visa ($160) – This is the most common type of student visa for students who will be studying at an accredited US college or university, private secondary school, or an approved English language programme. An F-1 visa is also required if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week.3
  2. M-1 Student Visa ($160) – The M-1 visa is designed for students who plan to engage in non-academic or vocational study or training at a US institution.3
  3. J Visa ($160) – The J visa is designed for Exchange Visitors, including students going to the US for an exchange programme, training, research and more

Find out more about all visa types and fees.

Step 3: Submit your visa application

The following information is obtained directly from the US Visa Information Service for Kuala Lumpur. No changes were made to the content to ensure the content is accurate for students to apply for their visas without error.

Note: If you feel confused with all the information here, a MABECS Global consultant is ready to help – scroll to the bottom of the page to find our contact details.

To apply for an F or M visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • An approved Form I-20 from your US school or program.
  • A Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating the SEVIS fee has been paid. The SEVIS website has more details.

To apply for a J visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • An approved DS-2019 from your US
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a “G”), you must present your Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating you paid the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more details.

Step 4: Schedule your visa appointment/interview

All visa interviews at the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur are handled on an appointment basis only. Individuals seeking general information about US visas or needing to schedule a visa appointment should visit the US Visa Information Service for Kuala Lumpur.4

To find out the latest information about how to schedule your visa appointment and the documents that you should bring along to your visa appointment, visit this page.

Important note:

If you decide to leave the US for a break or a holiday for more than five months, you may lose your F-1 or M-1 status unless you are able to prove that your overseas activities are related to your course of study. Find out more here under “Additional information”.

If you need guidance in your visa application process, contact a MABECS Global consultant today. Our services are free of charge.

The information provided above is accurate at the time of writing and is subject to changes by the US Visa Information Service for Kuala Lumpur.

This page was last updated in June 2021.

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