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Study in the United States
Documents to prepare right away
If you have been assigned to a university in the United States for an exchange during your Bachelor’s or Master’s programme, gather the following materials while you wait for further instructions and the paper or online application.
- For exchanges in the third year of a Bachelor’s programme: university transcript from first year, in English and without ECTS grades, and from the first semester of second year once it becomes available. For dual degrees: transcript from Université Paris I, IV, or VI translated yourself – we will certify your translation.
- For Master’s exchanges: full university transcript in English without ECTS grades. If your transcript is not in English, translate it yourself and we will certify your translation.
- A photocopy of your passport, which must be valid six months after the end of the study period.
- The original or a copy of your TOEFL or IELTS results from December 2015 at the latest for Bachelor’s exchanges and January 2016 for Master’s exchanges. Please note: these test results are valid for two years.
- Certification of financial resources from your bank or your sponsor’s bank (in English) on bank letterhead bearing the official stamp (two copies). This document is required to obtain a visa. The amount of funds required can be found on the university website under “cost of attendance”. To calculate the exact amount, subtract tuition fees; only count the costs of housing, books, etc. Keep one copy for your appointment at the US consulate.
- Personal statement in English or French
- Letters of recommendation in English (only for some universities)
- CV/resume in English (only for some universities)
Apply for a visa
Get the process underway as soon as you receive the Form I-20 (for F1 visas) or DS-2019 (for J1 visas) sent by your host university. Note that it is the US host university that decides which type of visa is required.
Required documents for a visa application
- Form I-20 (F1 visas) or DS-2019 (J1 visas) provided by the university you are to attend.
- Nonimmigrant visa application, online Form DS-160
- A valid passport (expiry date at least six months after your scheduled return date)
- A second official identify document with photo for admission into the Consulate
- A passport photo in the American format (5cmx5cm) taken within the last six months
- The letter of acceptance from your host university (original)
- The letter from Sciences Po stating your level of study, the authorised duration of your stay and the need for your return to France to continue your studies (provided by Centre for the Americas)
- Evidence of financial resources from you bank
- Evidence of financial resources from your sponsor’s bank, where applicable
- Proof of receiving a grant/scholarship, where applicable
- The receipt for the visa application fee to be paid before your interview
- Copy of the SEVIS registration and payment confirmation page
Registration in the SEVIS (Student and exchange visitor information system)
All students must register in the SEVIS as soon as they receive Form I-20 or DS-2019. Make sure your print the confirmation page.
- Complete the online Form I-901 and pay $180 for a J1 visa or $200 for a F1 visa
- The SEVIS identification number is given on your Form I-20 or DS-2019.
Calculate the cost of your visa
- SEVIS fees: US$180 or $200, payable online by bank or credit card
- Visa application fee of about €152, payable online or by telephone (the amount varies with the exchange rate)
- Appointment fee for the Embassy: $14 online, €14.50 by phone, payable in Euros by bank or credit card.
- Any costs of travel to Paris at the student’s expense
- Chancellery fees: no fees for French nationals. For other nationalities, check with the US Embassy.
Appointment at the Embassy
An interview is mandatory for almost all visa applicants. An appointment can be made online or by telephone. We recommend you make it by phone.
Request an appointment only after you have gathered all the documents. Do not make an appointment until you have received the acceptance letter and Form DS-2019 or I-20 from the host university.
Have all the documents with you when you make the appointment. The consular officer will request certain information on the phone. Mention that you are an exchange student so you get the earliest appointment available.
The day of the interview
- Arrive at the embassy 30 minutes before the scheduled appointment time. If you get there late, you may be denied entry to the consulate and you will have to make another appointment at a later date.
- Make sure that you have all the required documentation with you and any other documents you think might be useful for your case.
- You should have carefully completed and signed all the forms before your appointment.
The interview with the consular officer is very short (10 minutes max) but the wait can be very long. You will be asked questions about your host university, your study plans and your personal background.
The letters of acceptance from the university you are assigned to and Form DS-2019 or I-20 (the two documents arrive at the Centre for the Americas in the same shipment) may not arrive until mid-July, which means that appointments at the US Consulate can take place in late July or early August. If this looks like it will be the case for you, make sure you do not leave the country between late June and early August.
The new regulations do not allow you to enter the United States more than 30 days before the start of your study programme (date specified on Form I-20 or DS-2019), even with a visa.
For more information on obtaining a US student visa, visit the United States Embassy website.
When you get to the US
- As soon as you arrive, register your visa at your host university’s international office.
- If you would like to extend your stay for an internship, you need to get authorisation from your host university.
Plan to take out international insurance (e.g. Europusa). Please note: some universities require students to take out the university’s own insurance. Read the reports and websites of the universities that interest you for details.
IMPORTANT: nothing provides better coverage than insurance from an American university. We strongly advise you to take out this type of insurance. However, you need to check if this insurance will cover you if you travel outside the US.
More information on health and insurance.
Choose your courses
For exchanges in third year of Undergraduate College
You are required to take at least one course in a social science discipline per quarter or semester. You can register for a course as long as you have the prerequisites and provided there is space in the course.
Pass-Fail courses are not authorised. For-credit sport courses are not authorised either.
Note: You need to maintain full-time student status for your visa to remain valid. To do so, you have to register for a sufficient course load each semester. For most American universities, this is 12 credits per semester, but this can vary depending on the university, the current value of its credits, and whether the academic year is organised in quarters or semesters. It is each student’s own responsibility to respect the rules of their host university on this matter.
Regardless of your host university, how the academic year is organised, or the total number of courses you take, you are required to spend the entire academic year there.
Check the rules for validating the third year of Undergraduate College abroad (Fr).
For Master’s students
You must take at least four courses or 12 credits to keep your US student visa valid and to validate your semester. One of the four courses can be a language course, but only if you already started studying the language at Sciences Po. No pass/fail courses. For-credit sport courses are not authorised either.
Also, check if your Master’s programme has specific rules for validating your semester (Fr) (specific subjects you need to take, etc.).
Work in the US
International students may work on the campus of the host university only, up to 20 hours per week (part-time) during the academic year. Any work off-campus, whether paid or not, is strictly prohibited.
The only exception is for undergraduate students completing "practical training" which means working full or part-time, for a total duration equivalent to your study period and in a field closely related to your curriculum, but only after successfully completing the study period in the US. To qualify, undergraduate students must obtain permission from the host university to extend their visa. Master's students are not eligible to partake in "practical training".
If you have committed to an exchange programme in the US, you may not undertake an internship while you are studying, unless you have the university’s authorisation for it to replace a course and earn credit.
If you want to do a full-time internship, it is recommended to do so after your study period, as practical training with the approval of your host university (see “Work in the US” above).