Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your intended stay in the US. Before leaving for the US, keep a photocopy of the page containing your photograph and passport number. If your passport is lost or stolen, this will make it easier to replace the passport. Keep the photocopy in a safe place, but do not carry it with your passport. If your passport is lost or stolen, inform your embassy and the police immediately.
Sufficient Financial ResourcesTo get a F-1 visa approved, you will need to show that you have sufficient funds to pay for the first year of study and that you have resources available to cover the rest of your educational program. For an M-1 or J-1 visa, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to pay for all tuition and living costs for your complete stay in the US. The information you provide on the I-20 form (F-1) or DS-2019 form (J-1) will be scrutinized very carefully by both the foreign student advisor at the school and the INS. If you do not have the resources necessary for study in the US, you will not get a visa. You should know where your money is coming from before you board a plane. Several schools require proof that you have enough money for the entire course of study even for an F-1 visa, because too many international students have to return home after only a year of study. If your education will be sponsored by a US citizen (e.g., a relative), the relative will need to fill out a Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support). This form requires them to pay your expenses if you cannot. A Form I-134 filed by someone who is not a relative does not count as much as a Form I-134 filed by a relative.
If a student on a F-1 visa is not able to complete their studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form, they must apply to the school’s Foreign Student Advisor for an extension 30 days before expiration. Extensions are normally granted for academic and medical reasons so long as there have been no violations of visa status. It is possible to transfer schools after arrival on an F-1 visa. You will need to notify your current school of the transfer and obtain an I-20 form from the new school. You will complete the student certification section of the I-20 and must deliver it to the foreign student advisor at the new school within 15 days of beginning attendance at the new school. If you are changing majors at your current school, you do not need to notify the INS. If you are changing degree programs (e.g., from a bachelors degree to a masters degree program), then, you will need to get a new I-20 and submit it to the foreign student advisor within 15 days of beginning the new program. If your education will be sponsored by a US citizen (e.g., a relative), the relative will need to fill out a Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support). This form requires them to pay your expenses if you cannot. A Form I-134 filed by someone who is not a relative does not count as much as a Form I-134 filed by a relative.
The B-2 visa (Tourist Visa) is not considered a student visa for full-time study. Studying in the US on a B-2 visa is reason for deportation. Switching from a B-2 visa to a F-1 or J-1 visa after arriving in the US is extremely difficult, and may be grounds for deportation or prosecution for visa fraud. If you intend to enter the US with a B-2 visa and possibly switch later to a F-1 or J-1 visa, be sure to get the visa with a “Prospective Student” stamp on it. You will probably need to supply a copy of a letter of admission before they will grant you a B-2 visa with a “Prospective Student” stamp on it. As a general rule, if you intend to enter the US as a student, you should get a F-1 or J-1 visa. If you decide to change status after arriving in the US, you should wait at least 2 Months to avoid presumptions of visa fraud.