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How to Go to College in the United States As a Foreigner

A foreign student who wants to study in America has two options: apply through an F1 or J1 visa. Which one should you choose?

There are three types of visas for international students: F1, J1, and M2. The difference between them lies in their duration.

An F1 visa allows you to stay in the US for at least six months, whereas a J1 visa only lasts for four months. If you want to extend your stay beyond these limits, you'll need to apply for a new visa.

F1 visas are generally granted to those who plan to pursue graduate studies in the US. They also allow holders to work part-time during their program. On the other hand, J1 visas are given to undergraduate students who wish to attend college in the US. Unlike F1 visas, they don't offer work authorization.

Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

Let's look at all three.

F1 Visa

  • An F1 visa allows you to stay in the U.S. for at least 6 months. It is usually granted to international students who plan to pursue graduate education in the U.S. Students may work part-time during the program. However, some universities require students to maintain full-time status.

J1 Visa

  • This visa allows you to stay for 4 months. It is typically granted to international students who want to enroll in a bachelor's degree program in the U.S. Students must maintain full-time status throughout the entire period of enrollment.

M-2 Visa

  • This visa allows students to stay for 2 years. It is generally granted to those who want to complete a master's degree in the U.S. Students must maintain full-time employment throughout the entire period of their enrollment.

GUIDE: How to Choose and apply to the U.S. schools of your choice.

1. Determine Whether You Want to Pursue Graduate Education in the U.S.

  • Graduate programs in the U.S. are very competitive. To stand out among hundreds of thousands of applicants, you need to make sure that you're really interested in attending a particular school. In addition to academic requirements, schools also ask for letters of recommendation and standardized test scores.

2. Consider Financial Aid Options

  • Financial aid is another reason why you should consider studying abroad. Many colleges offer scholarships based on merit. These are awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. Scholarships can cover tuition costs, room and board, books, travel expenses, and living expenses. Some even provide stipends.

3. Research Colleges Closely

  • You can find information about colleges on websites like You can also visit local campuses and talk to current students. Finally, you can contact the International Student Services office at your prospective university.

4. Apply Early

  • Applying early gives you a chance to meet deadlines and secure a spot in the class of your choice.

5. Be Prepared to Pay More

  • Tuition fees vary from institution to institution. The average cost of tuition per year ranges from $10,000 to $20,000.

6. Study Abroad Programs

  • Studying abroad is a great way to expand your horizons. Not only will you learn about a culture different from yours, but you'll also get to experience life in a completely new environment. International students are allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 12 months

7. Choose an Online or Campus-Based Program

  • Online programs allow you to study from anywhere. They don't require you to attend campus regularly. On the downside, they allow you to attend college remotely. This means that you don't have to relocate to the U.S. You can live in your home country while still pursuing higher education.

8. Find Out About Transfer Credits

  • If you've already earned credits through high school, you may be eligible to transfer them into American institutions. Check with your guidance counselor or directly with the admissions department of your preferred university.


Choose Your Program Carefully

  • Some programs have more flexibility than others. For example, if you're planning to major in business administration, you might be able to take courses in accounting, finance, marketing, management, and human resources. If you're planning to study medicine, you'll probably need to take classes in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, genetics, biochemistry, immunology, and other related subjects.

  • It's important to know what kind of program fits your needs best and that you take advantage of all the available resources to achieve your goal of studying in the United States for your college degree.

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