The basics
THE USA: Visa Guides

Nigerian students applying for an American student visa

Practical advice for Nigerian students travelling to the USA


When applying for a US student visa from Nigeria, it is advisable to start planning your application at least 18 months before the intended course start date to allow sufficient time for research, enrolment and visa processing.


US Student Visa Types


Your chosen course of study and the type of institution you plan to attend will determine whether you need an F-1, M-1 or J category visa in the United States. University, college, high school, seminary, conservatory, academic institutions including language programmes all come under the F category. Vocational and other recognized non-academic courses other than a language-training programme requires M-1 visa. Only short recreational courses that do not offer credits towards a degree or academic certificate are permitted on a visitor (B) visa. The Exchange Visitor (J) non-immigrant visa is another category available for work and study based exchange visitor programmes.


US Student Visa Procedures


Before making an F or M visa application, a Nigerian student must first be accepted by a SEVP approved school. You will then be enrolled on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. The school will provide you with Form I-20 to present at the visa interview.

Appointment at The United States Mission to Nigeria


Nigerian students should make an appointment for a visa interview online via the CGI appointment system or by calling the CGI call centre on 01-440-6218 in Nigeria.  Students may schedule their visa appointments before they receive their I-20 forms but must bring these to the interview.


Tip:  Due to the high demand for appointments, the date allocated may be later than start day on your I-20 form. It is advised to request permission from your school to arrive at a date after your scheduled appointment, official confirmation of which must be made in writing and brought to the interview.


Expedited Student Visa Appointments


These are available if you are applying for category F or exchange visitor J visa purposes.  They require the following:


  • Either pay the visa application fee at a designated branch of UBA plc or go online to schedule an appointment and pay the VFS visa appointment fee
  • If your scheduled appointment is later than your planned arrival and you have not been refused a visa in the last six months, you can request an expedited visa appointment when you apply. 


Supporting Documents


  • Barcoded confirmation page for the DS-160 online non-immigrant visa application form for all applicants. The confirmation page can be obtained only after the applicant completes and submits the DS-160 online where all questions should be answered and a digital signature made before submission. The DS-160 and complete instructions can be found on the Consular Electronic Application Centre
  • Barcoded confirmation page for Endorsed valid I-20 for students
  • Certificate of Eligibility for non-immigrant (F-1) student status for academic and language students
  • DS-2019 for exchange visitors
  • International passport valid for at least six months
  • One colour passport photograph (5cm x 5cm) with full face forward against a white background taken within the last six months. Hair must not cover the ears and no photos with dark glasses or non-religious, tribal or chieftaincy head coverings are allowed
  • The GT Bank receipt for the $160 visa application fee
  • CGI appointment service charge receipt
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Any supporting documents to establish the applicant’s strong economic, social and other ties to Nigeria, additional documents may be requested during the interview
  • Financial evidence of your own or your sponsor’s ability to pay the tuition fees and cover living expenses.


Tip:  Students from Nigeria need the SEVIS number on their I-20 or DS-2019 form to complete the DS-160 online non-immigrant visa application.


Further Questions


If you have any further questions you can contact the US Mission to Nigeria at in Abuja or in Lagos or check the frequently asked questions here.


US Student Visa Deadlines and Important Dates


Nigerian students should apply for a US study visa 3 months before the school term starts. However, this is assuming the preparation work has been done in the previous 15 months and you have supporting documents and all receipts to hand. To learn more about the application timeline check this comprehensive guide.

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Elena Sikorsky is an entrepreneur in e-commerce and digital marketing. She has degrees in Entrepreneurial Management and PR and Broadcast Journalism. Elena is a contributing writer on culture, art, education, fashion, business and travel in British and international media.