Stay Updated on Student Visas


The State Department has rules for giving permission to foreign students studying in the United States. The rules can be found on the State Department's travel Web site: Under Services, go to Visas for Foreign Citizens to Come to the United States, Non-immigrant Visas, Student and Exchange Visitor Visas and Applying for a Foreign Student Visa.

Every foreign student who has been accepted by a college or university to study in this country must have a legal document called a visa from the United States government. The rules for getting a visa have changed a bit over the past decade, requiring more stringent security and background checks.

National security is the most important issue in deciding if a person should be permitted to enter the United States. It now takes a longer time for a person to receive permission to enter the country. This past summer, a new policy took effect. It requires additional security investigations of men between the ages of sixteen and forty-five from twenty-six countries. Officials say these men are waiting the longest for their legal papers.

A State Department spokesman said visa applications that used to be approved in days are now taking much longer. This is because officials must see if the name of each student appears on lists of foreigners with possible links to terrorists. Officials say that future security investigations are expected to take less than one month from the time of visa application.

The State Department says international students are not being studied any more closely than people who want to enter the United States for other reasons. But students must enter the country before their college classes begin. So they must apply for the visa as soon as they can to permit enough time for approval.

Other new rules have also taken effect. For example, universities must place a confirmation document on a State Department Web site for every international student they admit.

We will continue to post any updates to these rules and regulations, so keep checking back to make sure you are properly covered to be a student in the United States.

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