Nonimmigrant Visas: Study & Exchange

The Student (F-1/M-1) Visa provides opportunities for qualified applicants to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States. With thousands of academic programs, world-class institutions, and unmatched flexibility, the United States offers a wealth of higher-education opportunities. Visit the Department of State’s EducationUSA website to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, admissions, and more.

The Exchange Visitor (J-1) Visa program provides countless opportunities for international candidates looking to travel and gain experience in the United States. The multifaceted programs enable foreign nationals to come to the United States to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills or receive on the job training for periods ranging from a few weeks to several years. To learn more about exchange visitor visa programs, program sponsors, and more, please visit

Citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) participating countries who intend to study cannot travel on the VWP or on visitor (B) visas, except to undertake recreational study as part of a tourist visit. Students must travel to the United States with student (F-1 or M-1) visas. For more information on the VWP, see Visa Waiver Program.

For short periods of recreational study, a Visitor (B) visa can be used. Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, which is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate, is permitted on a visitor (B) visa. Learn more about Visitor Visas.

Study leading to a U.S. conferred degree or certificate is not permitted on a visitor (B) visa, even if it is for a short duration. For example, distance learning which requires a period of time on the institution’s U.S. campus requires an F-1 visa.

How to apply:

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States, unless exempt by country-specific agreements (PDF, 57 KB). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.

  • Completed Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160

Please note that you must answer EVERY question on the application forms. If the answer to a question is “none,” please write “none”(Do not leave it blank). Incomplete/incorrect forms will be returned and will require you to schedule a new interview appointment.

Important! Many of our visa applicants are completing the DS-160 incorrectly, causing us to postpone their planned visa interview dates.

Only a passport, DS-160 confirmation page, a 2 x 2 inch color photo not older than 6 months – with a light or white background, and the forms listed in Step 2 are required for the visa interview.  Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip;
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip; and/or
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip (for example your bank statements for the last 3 months or your salary slip).

Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a nonimmigrant tourist visa. If you do choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember that it is not one of the factors that we use in determining whether to issue or deny a nonimmigrant tourist visa.

To schedule an appointment for a non-immigrant visa (NIV) interview, please consult the Embassy’s online NIV Appointment System. Please have your DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form Confirmation Number handy. It is located on your DS-160 confirmation page, in bold print.

■  Current valid passport

■   DS-160 confirmation page (with barcode).  (This shows that the application has been completed.)

■    Appointment confirmation page (All visa applicants are required to have an appointment for a visa interview).

■    1 recent photo taken within 6 months on a white background   (5cm x 5 cm, NO glasses)

■    Fees: CASH only:  $185 USD or the equivalent in Mauritian Rupees as determined by the U.S. Embassy

Petition based (H, L, O, P, Q, R,) $205 or the equivalent in Mauritian Rupees as determined by the U.S. Embassy

L visa applicants included in a L blanket petition: must also pay the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of $500 and may need to pay the Border Security Act fee.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS: Additional supporting documents may be requested and/or required:

■    Financial evidence for the past six months

■    Valid Canadian Visa, if applicant or applicants is/are also travelling to Canada

■    If attending a conference please provide proof of participation

■    Letter from present employer

■    Going for studies in the U.S. or Canada, please bring your transcripts

On the day of your interview, please pay the following nonrefundable visa application fees: $185 for B-1 (Business) and B-2 (Tourism & Visit) nonimmigrant visas; $205 for H, L, O, P, Q, and R visas; and $315 for E visas.

During your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate based on your purpose of travel. You will need to establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of your application process.

For some countries, a visa issuance fee may apply.

If you are issued the visa, anyone with the receipt issued to you upon payment of the visa application fee may collect your passport on a Monday or Wednesday between 14:00 and 15:00.

Generally the processing time is about 3 days absent the need for additional administrative processing.