Updated May 2023
Foreign students are attracted to the United States with great enthusiasm because of its high-quality education, multicultural environment, and ample opportunities. They consider the American educational program to be a crucial stepping stone towards a fulfilling career in the future. To study in America, the US government mandates that interested individuals must obtain a student visa prior to their travel to the country.
If you are applying for a student visa to the US from Pakistan, here is everything you need to know, including its required documents, the application process, validity and more.
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US student visa for Pakistanis 2023
Prior to initiating the visa application process, it is imperative for international students to secure acceptance and approval from a recognized educational institution or program in the United States. The respective educational institution will provide the student with the required documentation of approval, which must be included as part of the visa application.
Types of visas
Students from Pakistan can choose between two visa categories to study in the US, depending on the type of education they plan to pursue.
The F-1 visa is provided to individuals who are studying full-time at any educational institution in the United States, such as a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or any other academic establishment, which also includes language training programs. Essentially, students who engage in a course of study that exceeds 18 hours per week will require this particular visa.
Foreign students are not allowed by US law to attend public elementary schools (kindergarten to 8th grade) or publicly funded adult education programs. Hence, F-1 visas are not issued for studies in these institutions.
While an F-1 visa can be granted for enrollment in a public high school (grades 9 to 12), the student’s study duration is limited to a maximum of 12 months. Moreover, the school must clearly state on the I-20 form that the student has paid the entire cost of education without any subsidies, specifying the exact amount provided by the student for this purpose.
The M-1 visa is issued to individuals who have intentions to participate in non-academic or vocational study or training at an educational institution in the United States.
How to apply for a US student visa from Pakistan?
When applying for an F-1 or M-1 visa, applicants must be able to submit the following documents:
- a completed Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application form (DS-160)
- a passport valid a minimum of six months beyond the intended period of stay in the US
- a 5×5 cm photograph taken within the last six months
- proof of visa payment
- an approved I-20 form from the school or program in the US
- travel history in the past 10 years
- list of siblings and children
- a confirmation letter of interview appointment
Other than the aforementioned documents, it is advised to bring the following supporting documents to your interview:
- a document of assurance that the students will return to their home countries after the period of study ends
- proof of financial solvency
- original copy of bank statements or bank books
- proof of relationship with the sponsor (if sponsored)
- the sponsor’s most recent original tax forms (if sponsored)
- sponsor’s bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificate (if sponsored)
- academic documents for study preparation (SAT, TOEFL, etc.)
Please be advised that the interview must be arranged within one year from the beginning of the program indicated on the I-20 form.
Despite the seemingly stringent requirements of the US student visa application, the process is actually easier and more direct. Please refer to the following guidelines for the steps involved:
- fill in the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application form (DS-160)
- pay the visa fee
- schedule an appointment for a visa interview
- visit the US Embassy or Consulate on the date and time of your choosing
- submit all the required documents
If the visa is approved, students may enter the country not earlier than 30 days before the beginning of the study.
To issue a US visa, applicants will be charged a fee of PKR 45,720 (USD 160). This fee is non-refundable and must be paid in local currency.
The duration of your educational program will determine the validity of your US student visa. The visa officer holds power to grant a student visa validity that aligns with the entire length of your study or a shorter duration. If you receive a visa validity shorter than your study period, you will need to renew your student visa once it expires.
It is worth noting that a US student visa (F-1 and M-1) will automatically be invalid if the students either do not continue their studies for five months (but remain in the US) or are absent from the country for five months for purposes that are not related to the course of their study. In that case, the student may have to apply for a new US student visa.
According to the information provided on the US Embassy website in Pakistan, the processing time for visa applications can vary. Certain applicants may need to undergo additional administrative processing, which typically gets resolved within two months from the date of the interview.
It is also advised that applicants refrain from inquiring about their visa status until at least 90 days have elapsed from the date of the interview or the submission of any additional documents.