What are the differences between J, M and F US student visas?

Three types of student visas are available for different types of study programmes in the US. F, M and J visas serve different purposes to the students.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Monday, June 27, 2022, 06:17 PM IST
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Student visa recipients with US Consul General in Mumbai, David J. Ranz, at Student Visa Day on June 7, 2022 | Free Press Journal

With an increasing number of students planning their study abroad journey, especially to countries such as the US, it would be beneficial for them to know about the various types of student visas.

Individuals, who have taken admissions in the US, should first receive the I-20 form from a DSO at an institution they plan to attend.

What’s the I-20 form?

The I-20 form proves that you are legally enrolled in a study programme in the United States. The I-20 form will be needed for applying to benefits available to F and M visa students. It’s to be noted that if students are eligible for social security numbers or a driving licence in the US, they have to take the I-20 form with them.

Here are the student visas available to students :

Three types of student visas are available for different types of study programmes in the US.

F, M and J visas serve different purposes to the students. Those applying for M and F student visas have to be enrolled in a programme or an institution that is certified by Student Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP), while candidates with J visa must receive a scholarship by a US Department of State-recognised organisation. Here are the details of the visas, that students can avail :

  1. F Visas

Visitors who want to enrol in an accredited college, university, seminary, prep school, or other academic learning institution use the F visa, also known as the Academic Student Visa. All students who are enrolled in a conventional academic programme are covered by this visa.

  1. M Visas

Students who want to enrol in a non-academic learning programme in the United States can apply for the M visa, often known as the Vocational Student Visa. These courses are usually shorter in length and emphasise technical abilities like cuisine, design, or programming.

  1. J Visas

    The J visa, also known as Exchange visitor’s visa, is open to certain groups, which include Professors, Research assistants, Students, Teachers, Interns, Nannies, and Camp Counsellors.

Not all who come under the visa are students, they can also be individuals who are in the US for cultural exchange or any non-academic purpose.


Students who wish to go the US can visit this link, Student Visa, for more details.

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