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Live & Study in USA

As the home of nearly one in every five universities in the QS World University Rankings, the US remains the world’s leading destination for international students.
In 2009, 660,581 non-US students – around 18% of the total number of students studying abroad – studied in the United States.
Of course, it’s not just educational quality that draws students in. Whether you’re drawn to the bright lights and fast pace of the big city or miles and miles of unspoiled wilderness; sun-kissed beaches or lush forests; the rustic and traditional or the sleek and modern, this huge and massively diverse country will be able to deliver.
The sheer volume and variety of educational establishments also means that you can be pretty confident of finding a suitable institution in your preferred surroundings. And if you don’t get it right the first time, moving between universities is not uncommon in the US.
American undergraduate degrees last four years. You will spend the first two studying a wide range of subjects – you can choose which ones, but you will be required to cover certain subject areas set by your university – after which you choose the subject on which you want to focus.


  • In terms of fees, universities in the US do not tend to differentiate between domestic and international students (domestic students studying at public universities in the state in which they live do pay less though).
  • Fees do, however, vary significantly from university to university. One thing is certain though – it won’t be cheap.
  • However, there’s a good chance you will not have to pay the full figure. Universities in the US are known to offer substantial discounts, grants and scholarships.
  • If you want to get an idea of what financial aid you’re eligible for, use the ‘net price calculator’ on the website of the university in which you’re interested (all institutions are required to offer this service).
  • Applications
  • You will need to apply directly to the institution(s). If you are accepted you’ll be entered into an international student database, and sent a copy of the information stored on this, which you will need to check for accuracy.
  • It’s also important to ensure that you pay the fee (the SEVIS I-901 fee) for this database service, which will be US$200.
  • Visas
  • You will then be ready to apply for your F-1 non-immigrant visa. In order to obtain this you will need to arrange an interview at your local US embassy, following the process below.
  • Pay the MRV fee of US$140 (the embassy will tell you where you should pay this).
  • Complete a DS-160 form online, uploading a photograph.
  • Bring your acceptance letter, proof you’ve paid all the fees and filled in the right forms, and a passport which doesn’t expire until six months after you complete your degree to the interview.
  • The decision will be in the hands of the consular officer. Their decision will hinge on three things: whether you can financially support yourself, whether you can show you can and want to return home after graduating (getting a work visa is a whole different process), and whether you can prove your academic results to date.
  • The last of these may involve you proving your proficiency in English. You will also have to provide proof of this to your university at the application stage.
  • Additional demands will be made if you have a criminal record, or you’re an expert in certain areas of science and technology.
  • You can receive your visa a maximum of 120 days before your course’s start date – but processing can take place before this date. You cannot actually enter the country until 30 days before the beginning of your course, unless you have a visitor visa. This last stipulation also applies to those who would normally not require a visa for short stays in the US.
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