Study & Exchange

There are three types of visas for student and exchange program participants:

  • F-Visa – Student (academic, high school or language program)
  • J-Visa –  Exchange visitors
  • M-Visa – Student in vocational or recognized non-academic program
To enter the United States to attend: You need the following visa category:
Exchange Visitors (High School, Au Pair, Intern, researcher, university student etc.) J
University or college (privately organized)
(High) School (privately organized)
Another academic institution, including a language training program
Vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program M


For short periods of recreational study, a Visitor (B) visa can be used: Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, which is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate, is permitted on a visitor (B) visa. Learn more about Visitor Visas. Study leading to a U.S. conferred degree or certificate is not permitted on a visitor (B) visa, even if it is for a short duration. For example, distance learning which requires a period of time on the institution’s U.S. campus requires an F-1 visa.

You must also apply for a visa, even if your planned stay is less than 90 days, if you:

  • Cannot travel with the Visa Waiver Program
  • Were refused an ESTA clearance
  • Your passport was issued or extended after 25 October, 2006 and is not an “e-Passport”
  • Hold a temporary German passport
  • Hold a children’s German passport (Kinderreisepass) issued or extended after October 25, 2006
  • Hold a children’s German “Kinderausweis”
  • Intend to accept paid or unpaid employment in the USA (also applies to journalists, au-pairs and interns)
  • Wish to travel to the United States for more than 90 days
  • Wish to attend a secondary school or university (as part of an exchange program or a self-organized stay)
  • Have been denied entry on a previous occasion or have been expelled from the USA
  • Have a criminal record or suffer from a serious communicable disease or mental disorder

This is an incomplete list. Information on the Visa Waiver Program is available at the State Department’s travel website.