Foreign nationals may enter the United States as nonimmigrants in order to engage in academic studies in this country, subject to certain restrictions. These students, who can range from elementary school students to doctoral candidates and persons engaged in post-doctoral studies, are classified in the F visa category.
The foreign national seeking to enter the United States to study does not need any advance permission from the USCIS. The student must obtain a certificate of eligibility (Form I-20) from an approved academic institution (as determined by the Департамент внутренней безопасности) at which he or she will enroll, and submit this certificate, together with a nonimmigrant visa application and supporting documentation, to a U.S. consulate in the foreigner’s home country. Once the visa is issued, the student can apply at the border for admission to the U.S., the same as any nonimmigrant. A prospective student already in the U.S. in a different nonimmigrant status may apply to the Immigration Service to change to student status to begin studies only when he or she has been approved.