student visa for usa from pakistan requirements

Do you want to study and work in the USA? Are you a Pakistani citizen? If you are, then this is for you. This article will walk you through the requirements and process for getting a student visa for the USA from Pakistan. It is better to know what all documents to carry with you because first impressions on your visa application are important.

Before acquiring the F1 visa, every student has to meet some requirements in order to get a student visa for USA. So, before applying for the visa you have to check that you fulfill all requirements for a student visa. There are several steps you have to achieve prior getting your authenticated visa. All these steps are important, because without fulfilling these steps you would be denied the permission from US government to enter their country as a foreign student.

Applying for a student visa is one of the biggest decisions that an international student has to make. A lot of people who want to study in the USA (especially the developing countries) are often apprehensive about the requirements, costs and time it takes to apply for a student visa. Now, before I proceed further, it’s important to understand why you even need a student visa.

Student Visa Requirements for Pakistan

Students from Pakistan who want to study in the United States will need to apply for a student visa. This process can be complicated and time-consuming, but it is also necessary if you want to pursue your education in the United States. If you are planning on studying in the US, here are some of the requirements that you will have to meet:

You will need to be enrolled in an approved academic institution that has been authorized by U.S. Immigration Services (USCIS). The institution must also be accredited by either one of these organizations: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; New England Association of Schools and Colleges; Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; Western Association of Schools and Colleges; or Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College Education. You should contact your school’s registrar’s office to verify whether or not they have been approved by one of these organizations.

You must have financial resources available at least equal to those required for other students at your school who are seeking admission as undergraduates during the same calendar year as you intend to attend classes. Your financial resources may include personal assets such as cash, stocks or bonds; income from sources such as employment.

Pakistanis desiring to study in the United States must first apply for a student visa. The process is not as simple as some might think and requires that you follow a number of steps. In order to get a student visa, you must first have admitted into an institution that is eligible for international students. You need to be accepted by an institution that is licensed by the U.S. Department of Education and accredited by an appropriate agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

After being accepted by an eligible institution, you can begin applying for your student visa at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Pakistan with valid documentation such as:

Passport valid at least six months after your intended stay in the U.S., with at least two blank pages;

School acceptance letter;

I-20 form (for F-1/M-1 visa);

I-94 arrival/departure record (for F-1/M-1 visa);

Evidence of financial support (bank statements, scholarship, etc.)

How to Apply for a US Student Visa from Pakistan

Here is a step-by-step process on applying for an American visa from Pakistan. For a more detailed explanation of the F-1 visa application process and documents required, check out our in-depth guide to US visas for international students.

1. Enroll in Your US University or College and Receive Your I-20 Form

Once you have secured a spot with your university or college, they will send you an I-20 form that you will need throughout the F-1 visa process. This includes information like your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) ID, the start and end dates of your academic program, and your source of funding. It is important to double-check all the information in the I-20 form before you sign the document.

Before moving on to the next step of the F-1 visa process, you have to make the payment for the SEVIS fee ($350, which is approximately Rs 54,000). Make sure to print a copy of your receipt—you will need it for the visa interview!

2. Complete the Required DS-160 Application

For the DS-160 application, you are required to submit your information online through the application portal. (You can learn more about the DS-160 on the U.S. Department of State website.) 

After completing the DS-160 form, pay the visa fees ($160, or approximately Rs 24,700) to receive a confirmation page with a barcode. You will have to print this page for the interview.

3. Schedule an Interview

Once you have completed and submitted the I-20 and DS-160 forms, find the US embassy or consulate closest to you and book an interview. 

Here is a list of US embassies and consulates in Pakistan:

To find out how long you will have to wait for an interview, you can check the U.S. Department of State website. By keeping an eye on US visa appointment available dates and wait times, you can plan ahead.

4. Prepare for Your Visa Interview

For the final step in the F-1 visa application process, make a list of all the documents that you should take to the interview. This includes:

  • Your passport
  • I-20 and DS-160 forms, including the I-20 payment receipt and DS-160 confirmation page
  • A copy of your visa photo
  • Any supporting documents that prove intent to return to Pakistan after graduation

Before the interview, remember to practice answering mock interview questions with a friend or your Shorelight enrollment advisor.

Next, let us go over some commonly asked questions from students in Pakistan about the F-1 visa.

What if My Visa Gets Rejected?

Unfortunately, there is no appeal process if your F-1 visa gets denied. However, this does not mean you cannot apply again!

If your visa does not get approved by the US embassy, it is important to find out why. Once you know the reason, it is easier to reapply for the student visa with any additional documents required.

What if My Visa Interview Gets Delayed?

If your study program is starting within 60 days and there are no interview appointments available before it begins, you can request an expedited appointment. You will have to bring your I-20 form and the receipt for the SEVIS fee.

Can I Travel on My Student Visa?

Once they have arrived at their US college or university, students from Pakistan on an F-1 visa may travel within the United States and internationally. To do so, a travel signature is required on page two of the I-20 form, provided by the designated school official (DSO), who often works in the international student service department of the university. 

Additionally, visas and passports must be valid and I-20 forms must be up to date. For more information about the documentation required for reentry and the limitations on travel, refer to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website

Can I Work While Studying on F-1 Visa?

Work is permitted on an F-1 visa only under certain conditions. 

For F-1 visa students, work is typically limited to on-campus jobs. Students are allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours a week. To seek employment outside the university, you can apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT), if applicable to your program. 

Can I Transfer to Another University or College on an F-1 Visa?

Yes, you can. But you will have to speak with your DSO before applying. To maintain your F-1 visa status, the university or college you selected would need to issue a new I-20 form. 

Do I Need Travel Insurance or Medical Health Insurance?

Not all universities require travel insurance when traveling to the United States, but it is often recommended, as an insurance plan could potentially save you a lot of time and money, especially with unexpected travel delays or medical emergencies. 

The majority of universities in the US require students to obtain medical insurance to complete enrollment. Students can enroll in a university-sponsored health insurance plan, which is commonly included in university fees. For more information about travel and health insurance plans, reach out to a Shorelight advisor.

For students in Pakistan hoping to study in the US, the F-1 visa process may feel time consuming and challenging — but with the right amount of research and preparation, you can improve your chances for success.


In some cases, additional visa fees are paid directly to the National Visa Center, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate or to the Department of Homeland Security.

Nonimmigrant Visa Issuance (“Reciprocity”) Fees

Applicants from certain countries may be required to pay a visa issuance fee after their application is approved. These fees are based on “reciprocity” (what another country charges a U.S. citizen for a similar-type of visa). The United States strives to eliminate visa issuance fees whenever possible, however, when a foreign government imposes these fees on U.S. citizens for certain types of visas, the United States will impose a “reciprocal” fee on citizens of that country for similar types of visas. The Department of State’s website has more information about visa issuance fees and can help you determine if an issuance fee applies to your nationality.


The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an Internet-based system that tracks F, M, and J visa participants (and their family members) from the time they receive their initial documentation (either an I-20 or a DS-2019) until they graduate/leave school or conclude/leave program.

F, M and J visa principal applicants: Check with your U.S. school to make sure your information has been entered into SEVIS. You will need to pay a separate SEVIS fee in addition to the visa application fee. For nonimmigrant students with Form I-20, the SEVIS fee is US$350. For most exchange visitors with Form DS-2019, the SEVIS fee is US$220. Proof of payment is required before your student or exchange visitor visa will be issued. Payment cannot be made at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Instructions for paying the SEVIS fee can be found here.

SEVIS Fee Exception

Applicants participating in a U.S. Government sponsored program (programs whose codes begin with G-1, G-2, G-3, G-7) are not required to pay the SEVIS fee.

Blanket L Fees (Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee)

First-time principal applicants who are covered under a blanket petition for L status must pay a Fraud Prevention and Detection fee of US $500. This fee should be paid to the cashier at the Consular Section on the day of the interview. If a subsequent L-1 visa application is based on a new Form I-129S, the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee must be collected again.

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