A U.S. nonimmigrant visa is issued as a sticker in your passport by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of the United States.
This visa gives you permission to apply for entry to the United States for a temporary period of time in a specific visa status. There are many different classifications of non-immigrant visas. Only some allow for full-time study. See Study in the States for an overview of student options.
Types of Visas
Some visas allow a visitor to study or work while others do not. If you are entering the U.S. to participate in a program of study, then you will likely apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa. If you are entering the U.S. to work, then you might be seeking a J-1, H-1B or TN visa status. Most visas are issued for multiple entries and can be used for reentry while you are participating in your program in the United States.
Citizens of Bermuda and Canada
Citizens of Bermuda and Canada are an exception to the visa requirement. Students holding citizenship from either of these two countries do not need to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a visa sticker/stamp in their passport prior to entry into the United States. Instead, they must present their visa-related paperwork (Form I-20 or DS-2019, for example), valid passport and any additional related documents (SEVIS fee receipt, financial statements, contracts, acceptance letters, etc.) at the U.S. port of entry. The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer will review your documents, update your I-94 arrival record, and usually stamp your passport indicating the status in which you have been allowed to enter the United States.
Visa Application Steps
- Determine which visa status is most appropriate for your program in the U.S. by consulting the different categories in the navigation channel located on the left side of this page.
- Your purpose in the U.S. (to study, to work, to visit) is what will determine your status. If you have any questions in making this determination, contact ISSS.
- Once you determine the visa status, fill out the proper form(s) on the ISSS website and submit all required documents to ISSS by the requested date. In some cases, ISSS will contact you once you have deposited to one of our programs to provide the necessary paperwork or instructions, including communicating the necessary timeframe for submission.
- ISSS will process your documents and contact you if anything is missing or more information is needed.
- Once you receive and review all the visa-related documents (I-20 or DS-2019) and related materials sent to you from ISSS, you can make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, if applicable.
- After you receive your passport and visa from the U.S. Consulate, you may travel to the U.S. to request entry.
- Enter the U.S. in your proper visa status within the allotted time frame to begin your program (refer to documents from ISSS).
- To enter, you will need a valid passport and visa (if applicable), SEVIS Fee payment receipt, and visa-related document issued by ISSS (your I-20 or DS-2019).
- Check-in with ISSS upon arrival (mandatory). ISSS will usually provide instructions via email regarding our check-in procedures.
Students in Non-degree Programs
Students participating in non-degree programs need to complete a specific visa process.
Students in Middlebury College’s non-degree summer programs—such as the Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English—may be eligible to apply for an I-20 or DS-2019 to obtain an F-1 or J-1 visa.
If you are attending one of the Institute programs below, please contact ISSS for more information about the type of visa you will need for your intended program of study.
- Custom Language Services (CLS)
- Intensive English Program (ESL)
Special Note about Visitor Visa Waiver, B-1, or B-2 Status
Full-time study is not permitted in the B-1 (business) or B-2 (visitor) visa or in the visa waiver program. The B visa does permit visitors to the U.S. to take short-term classes that are not the primary purpose of the visitor’s presence in the U.S. If your program will be full time, you will need to obtain an F-1 student visa or a visa that allows full-time study. Direct questions about visas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated on 1/18/2022