Applying for Student Visas
As an international student studying at the CIA, you may be issued the F-1 Visa or M-1 Visa.
The F-1 Visa Application Process
The F-1 Visa is required for international students enrolled in the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. If you have an F-1 student visa and are enrolled in these programs, you may:
- work on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week with authorization by the school official;
- complete the required externship in the U.S. with authorization by the school official (employment authorization is job-specific);
- accept full-time employment for up to 12 months after completion of studies—with authorization from the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) via the application process, which takes approximately three months. This is also known as Optional Practical Training (OPT).
All of the above employment opportunities require a Social Security Number. This application process takes 10–20 days, with authorization from the school official.
- Wait times for the F-1 student visa may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate you are dealing with. You will be required to pay a nonrefundable visa application fee. There is an online visa application available, which allows you to complete and print Form DS-160 to take to your F-1 visa interview.
- Check out our preparation tips for the student visa interview (PDF). An F-1 student visa for the United States can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your college start date. You will only be able to enter the U.S. with an F-1 visa 30 days before your start date.
The M-1 Visa is required for students enrolling in one of the certificate programs at our California campus. The M-1 visa does not allow students to work in the United States during their education, and is not acceptable for employment in the U.S. following graduation. Students may apply for employment authorization after completion of studies based on one month of employment for every four months of study.
Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the U.S. but must have a passport and a valid form I-20 from a university in the United States. A student should present the passport, Form I-20 A-B
(PDF), and financial documentation at the Canadian/U.S. border.
When putting together your application for your student visa, be sure you have read the CIA admissions policy and that you have all the required documents, which include:
- Form I-20 A-B
- A valid passport
- Financial information
- Letter of admission from the CIA
Student Visas and Travel Plans
You should not make final travel plans until you have your visa approved.
Also, please note that you are responsible for being familiar with immigration and visa laws. CIA staff will provide assistance and advisement where possible, but ultimately, you are responsible for knowing and complying with the laws of the United States, your home country, and the laws of the countries to which you will travel as a CIA student. This includes nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 visa regulations. Additional information about student visas can be found in our
International Student Guide (PDF).