International students

A foreign student looking to get into an American university needs to have certain academic requirements and must take a few exams to show competency:

  • High school diploma
  • Take one of the standard admission tests (SAT or ACT)
  • Demonstrate a certain level of English proficiency that can be done by taking the TOEFL (this is not required if the student comes from an English-speaking country).

Please note that these are the requirements for students looking to come in as a first year student. Transfer students are usually not required to take the SAT or the ACT and other rules apply.



International students are non-immigrants who enroll in academic programs at universities, colleges, high schools, and elementary schools in the United States of America.

There are more than one million international students in the United States*. 



SEVP is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). SEVP manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), the web-based system DHS uses SEVIS to maintain and manage information on nonimmigrants whose primary purpose for coming to the United States is to study.



A nonimmigrant is any foreign person who temporarily visits the United States to fulfill a specific purpose (e.g., tourism, business, study). There are different student visas:

  •  F-1 student visas, who are used by nonimmigrants whose primary purpose is to complete an academic course of study at a SEVP-certified school or program; 
  • M-1 student visas, which are typically used by nonimmigrants whose primary purpose is to complete a vocational course of study at a SEVP-certified school or program.
  • J-1 exchange visitor visas, which are typically used by nonimmigrants selected to participate in a U.S. Department of State-designated exchange visitor program.




There are about 8.369 SEVIS certified schoold in the US, and there are about 1.000.000 active SEVIS international students with an F-1 visa,and M-1 Visa spread around the country. 

One out of three international students choose to study in California, Texas or New York. Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania are also some popular destinations for international students.

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International students travel from all over the world to come study in the US. The most represented countries are specifically China and India but Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, countries in Europe for example Italy, UK, Germany and Spain are destinations from which these international students originally come from.


Diversity is so highly valued in the U.S. so having students from different countries, different backgrounds, and potentially different religions is highly encouraged by these institutions. In terms of academics there are a variety of fields of study to choose from at the university level, but very popular fields of study for international students are engineering, business, management, math, and computer science.


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