U.S. Visas in Ghana
U.S. Visas in Ghana
U.S. F-1 M-1 Student Visa in Ghana
U.S. F-1 M-1 Student Visa in Ghana

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A person who wishes to undertake a course of study in the U.S. may enter on a student visa. In any given year, approximately 500, 00 people are issued visas to study in the U.S. There is no limit on the number of persons who can receive student visas. All qualified students receive visas.

There are 2 major types of student visas:

Any person planning to study in the U.S. needs a student visa. Tourists who are taking a class or two for recreational purpose can do so on a B-visa without violating their visa status.

Academic student (F visa)

This is for persons who want to study or conduct research at an accredited U.S. college or university.

The key features of F-1 Visas
  • Once applicant has been accepted by a U.S. school, the application is reasonably quick and straightforward;
  • Applicant may enter the US as a full-time academic or language student enrolled in a program leading to a degree or certification;
  • Applicant may not obtain an F visa to study at a public elementary school or a publicly funded adult program. Nor may applicant obtain an F visa to study at a public secondary school unless they prepay the full cost of the program for a maximum of one year;
  • Applicant may transfer from one school to another or switch academic program by going through a simple procedure to notify USCIS;
  • Applicant may work legally in a part-time job on campus if it is economically urgent or if the job offers practical training for their field of study;
  • Applicant may travel in and out of the U.S. or remain there until the completion of their studies;
  • After the graduation, applicant may stay in the US and receive training through work experience for up to 12months or 17months if they have a “STEM” degree; and
  • Visas are available for accompanying relatives, but relatives may not accept employment in the US.

Non-academic or vocational student (M Visa)

This is for persons who want to study or train at a non-academic institution in the U.S.

The key features of M-1 Visas
  • The application process is reasonably quick and straightforward;
  • Applicant may enter the US as a full-time vocational or non-academic student enrolled in a program leading to a degree or certificate;
  • Applicant can transfer from one school to another, but only if prior approval has been sought from USCIS to do so. Once applicant is 6 months into their course of study, they are prohibited from transferring except under truly exceptional circumstances ;
  • Applicant is not permitted to change their course of study;
  • Applicant may not work during their study;
  • Applicant may get permission to work for up to 6 months after their studies, in a job considered practical training for their field of study;
  • Applicant may travel in and out of the U.S. or remain there until the completion of their studies, up to a maximum of one year. If they have not completed their program in a year or by the time their school projected, whichever is less, they must apply for an extension;
  • The maximum extension allowed is 3 years from the original start date; and
  • Visas are available for accompanying relatives, although relatives may not accept employment in the U.S.

Eligibility for M-1/F-1 Visas

To qualify for an F-1 or M-1 student visa, an applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements:

Proof of acceptance into an approved institution

Applicant must have been accepted at a school approved by USCIS for enrollment of foreign students. Virtually all public and accredited private colleges and vocational schools have been approved. However, it is important for an applicant to check with the school they have been selected to be sure that it has been approved by USCIS to accept foreign students. Once the school has accepted the applicant, they will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Applicant must pay the SEVIS I-90 fee. The school will then issue the applicant a certificate (SEVIS form I-20) which will be presented to the consular officer when they attend their visa interview.

Applicant must demonstrate that they are a bona fide student entering the U.S. truly for the purpose of study. In order to qualify for a student visa, an applicant must be enrolled in a program that leads to the attainment of a specific educational or vocational objective. For example, a diploma, certificate, or degree would be an obvious educational goal.

English language eligibility

Applicant must demonstrate that they know the English language well enough to pursue their course of studies effectively. The practice is that consular officials let each school decide for itself who is and who is not qualified to study in the U.S. However, during the consular interview, the officer will be listening closely to the applicant’s ability to understand and communicate in English. If the applicant’s school does not require that they take certain tests, they should obtain a letter from the school stating same. When a school is willing to admit an applicant without taking the required tests, the consular officer may deny a student visa because they think the applicant’s English is not good enough. U.S. embassies however strongly recommends that all student visa applicants provide standardized test scores like TOEFL and SAT, GRE, GMAT or LSAT;

Proof of adequate financial resource

Applicant must show that they have enough money to complete their entire course of studies without working. At the time of their application they must show that they have enough cash on hand to cover all first-year expenses. The SEVIS I-20 gives the school’s estimates of what applicant’s total annual expenses will be. Specifically, they must show that they must show that they have enough money presently available. They must also provide documents that show that they have source(s) of funds to cover their expenses in future years without having to work. To satisfy this requirement, the following documents may suffice:

  • a letter from a bank, or a bank statement, either in the U.S. or abroad showing an account in their name with a balance of at least the amount of money it will take to pay for their first year of education;
  • a written guarantee of support signed by an immediate relative, preferably a parent together with their relative, preferably a parent together with their relative’s bank statement;
  • proof of sponsor’s (i.e. applicant’s relatives) present employment. This may be a letter from their employer, or if self-employed, production of the business registration document and any certificate that show the legal relationship or status of the sponsor to the business;
  • Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support Form) if applicant is being sponsored by someone in the U.S., along with 3 years of that person’s individual bank statement and tax returns.

Paying the tuition expenses in advance (either in whole or in part) is a good way to show proof of funds, but there is no general requirement to pay in advance.

Proof of academic qualification

Applicant will be required to show proof that they are academically qualified to pursue the program, even though they have in fact being accepted by the school. Evidence may be in the form of:

  • original degree, transcripts, and certificates from all educational institutions, applicant has attended;
  • mark sheets, if any, from all previous educational institutions attended;
  • relevant test scores, e.g. TOEFL and SAT, GRE, GMAT, or LSAT.
Evidence of intention to return

Applicant must provide documents establishing their intent to leave the U.S. when their studies are completed. The consular officer will want to see evidence that the applicant’s ties to their home country are so strong that they will be highly motivated to return. This may be in the form of the following:

  • ownership of the property or real estate;
  • evidence of the presence of applicant’s family members in their home country as an incentive to return. This may be family photographs, or drawing up a family chart showing their close relatives, their contacts, profession, status, etc;
  • it may also helpful if applicant can show that they have a job waiting at home after their graduation.

If an applicant is a young person with no or little work or working experience they may not have many such ties. The important thing to stress in such a situation is for the applicant to show that is too early in their young stage to have formed a firm intent to leave their home country and to settle the U.S.

Spouse and Children of F-1/M-1 visa holder

An applicant who qualifies for an F-1 or M-1 visa may bring their spouse and unmarried children who intend to reside with them to the U.S. They will be issued with an F-2 or M-2 visas. The applicant’s school will have to issue separate SEVIS Forms I-20 for each applicant. They must also show evidence of relationship to the applicant in the form of marriage and birth certificates and evidence that the applicant has sufficient financial resources to support them in the U.S.

F-2 and M-2 visas authorize accompanying relatives to stay with applicant in the U.S. but not to accept employment. Family members may also enroll in elementary or secondary school, (kindergarten through to 12th grade) or in any vocational or recreational studies. They may not, however enroll full-time in a degree granting course of post-secondary study without obtaining their visa.

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