Studying in the USA? Get the right visa

The United States is one of the most popular destinations for international students in the world, including British students. The country has more than a million international students studying at the best universities like Harvard and Yale. If you’re planning to study in the USA, here is everything you need to know about studying in the States, from how much it costs to information on admission and the visa process.

Why study in the USA?

The quality of education is the most prominent reasons for studying in the United States. More than 150 American universities are among the best in the world, according to QS World University Rankings 2020.

We’ve all heard about the Ivy League universities. In addition to higher educational standards, research facilities and sports are an important feature of US academic culture. The USA is a land of opportunity, as it is home to some of the largest companies in the world. This means that even after finishing your study, there is still plenty of reason to stay in the country.


The main intakes in the USA take place in autumn and spring. The fall intake starts in August, and has the highest number of available courses. The fall intake in the USA is the most popular with international students.

The spring (or winter) intake begins in January, and students who missed the fall intake may choose to participate in the winter intake, although not every course available in the fall is available in the winter. There is also a summer intake (May), but this has a very limited range of courses.

Applying to study in the USA

The application process varies from university to university, but in most cases students can apply online. Most documents, such as a scanned copy of your passport, academic transcripts, essays, etc., should be uploaded in the online application portal of the respective universities. Very rarely will you be required to send documents by post.

Costs of studying in the US

US universities are not really known for their affordability, but considering the quality of education, the cost of studying is for many worth it. The average cost of study in the US for an Associate Degree (2 years) is $3,660 per year.

For four-year studies, public colleges cost $26,290 per year, while private colleges cost $35,830 per year. Room and board costs at universities are also added.

For a Master’s degree (MS), the average cost is between $28,000 and $40,000 per year. MBA programmes are more expensive (between $70,000 and $150,000 for an MBA from a top business school in the US).

Applying for a visa

Once you have been accepted by a university in the USA, you can start applying for your visa. There are several visas that are suitable for studying in the United States. For example, the F-visa is suitable for foreign students who are enrolled at a recognised US institution. Students who study in the USA via an exchange programme are eligible for the J-visa. The M-visa is intended for students who will be taking classes in technical or vocational education. Make sure you read up on all the different US visa types.

To apply for a visa, you must first fill in the D-160 form. Then you can make an appointment at the US embassy in London, where you have to take an interview.

Of course, it’s always useful to first visit the country you will study in, in order to get a feel of it. For these kinds of visits to the USA, no visa is required if you are a British citizen. Instead, you can submit a so-called ESTA application. The ESTA is a substitute to the visa that British citizens are eligible for, for tourist trips to the United States. Unlike visa application, an ESTA application takes about five minutes to submit, after which it is usually processed in a matter of days.