1. Tens of thousands of foreigners come to America each year to study at this country's fine institutions of higher learning. The U.S. government has a relatively liberal policy for allowing aliens to study in the U.S., but a visa is still required. Here's how to get one:

  2. Letter of admission. Before you set one foot inside the U.S. Embassy, you must have a copy of your letter of admission from your university. The consular officials won't even consider your application unless they have proof that you are, or will be, a student in the United States.

  3. Obtain additional paperwork from your prospective school. Once you are admitted, you will also need to contact your university's international office. An official in the international office at your school will be responsible for sending you the paperwork that you will need to negotiate the visa application process in your home country.

  4. Determine what kind of student visa you should apply for. There are two: F-1 or J-1, and there's no big difference between the two. Technically, F-1s are for undergraduate students and boarding schoolers, while J-1s are for "visiting scholars." Once you have worked out what kind of visa you will be applying for, your university official must send you the appropriate form. For an F-1, you will need a I-20. For a J-1, you will need an IAP-66. Do not lose these forms.

  5. Apply at the embassy. If you received your letter of acceptance and I-20 or IAP-66, you can then approach the U.S. Embassy to apply formally for the visa.

  6. Prove that you can pay for your education. The U.S. Embassy will generally not grant you a student visa unless you can demonstrate your ability to pay for your education. This can be a difficult thing to establish. If you plan to attend a private four-year university, for example, the total cost of your schooling can be over $100,000. You must show the U.S. Embassy that you have this cash before they'll let you come over here. So start liquidating the stocks and padding that bank statement.

  7. Get the actual visa. The visa itself is a small piece of paper that is glued into your passport. It contains a scanned photograph of you (which you must provide to the embassy on your application), plus your vital information, such as name, date of birth, and country of citizenship. More importantly, it declares itself to be your visa. When you attempt to enter the United States, you will need to present your passport and I-20 or IAP-66 to the person working at the immigration counter.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW get a visa?