Immigration & Visas

International students currently living outside of the US need a visa in order to attend an American college or university. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Does the visa the student is on when s/he applies to college make a difference in the application process? 
A:  Yes, it might matter. For example, a student with refugee status might be handled differently in the application process. Students who are under their parents’ working visa may not choose to transfer their visa to a student visa if they are eligible to study in the US regardless. 

Q:  Are there any restrictions on an international student traveling while studying at a US college or university on a visa? 
A: There are generally no restrictions if the student is traveling within the USA. However, travel to other countries may or may not be restricted for certain international students. It is best to check with the DSO at the college or university before starting on travel plans, both for vacations and for study abroad programs.


  • EducationUSA has a wealth of information about applying to US postsecondary institutions, including information about student visas.
  • The Department of Homeland Security site Study in the States contains important informations for students and institutions about international student visa regulations including for link for K-12 schools. The site also has a helpful Glossary of terms.
    • The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) graphic belown explains the transfer of a student's visa from one SEVIS-approved school to another. More information can be found at Study in the States.

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Relevant Resources

Guide to International University Admission

A comprehensive resource for counselors and students about undergraduate college options abroad.

The State of College Admission Report

Examining the transition from high school to postsecondary education through survey data collected from colleges and universities across the country.

Commissioned Agents and NACAC's Guide to Ethical Practice Series

A series of six periodically released resources aimed at guiding NACAC members in the responsible use of commissioned agents in international student recruitment.