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US Highschool

Teenage Group

Public and Private high schools

Firstly, it’s important to consider how long you’d like to study in the United States, since international students are generally only able to enroll in a public school for up to 12 months, while those enrolled at private school can study for the full duration of the academic program, as long as they meet the other requirements of their visa.

Both private and public schools can offer different experiences. Public schools, which are funded by U.S. taxpayers and must follow the established state curriculum, can offer an experience that’s closer to the one a typical American student might experience. Though international students must pay tuition to attend public schools, the price is usually lower than the cost of private schools. Regardless of which type of school you choose to enroll in, only schools that are registered with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) can accept international students.

You should also consider whether or not your school has an existing international student program, the school’s location, and what kind of housing options are available nearby. 


Each high school has different requirements, but in general you can expect to include the following materials in your application:

  • Application essay

  • Financial statements to prove you’ll be able to pay for any program fees and expenses

  • Proof of language proficiency, for example through a TOEFL score

  • Transcripts

  • Immunization records

Some schools may also require essays, interviews or teacher recommendations. Once you are accepted for enrollment, you can apply for the necessary visa.


Visa and tuition

There are two main types of visas you can use as an international student to study in the U.S.: The J-1 exchange visitor visa, and the F-1 student visa. If you’ll be attending high school as part of a cultural exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, you can apply for the J-1 visa as an exchange student.

If you are attending a high school outside of an exchange program, then you can apply for an F-1 visa, regardless of whether you’re studying for one year at a public school in the United States, or studying for one year or more at a private school. To do this, you will need to get Form I-20 (“Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status”) from your designated school official (DSO). Once you have this form, you can proceed to apply for your F-1 visa.

Unless you are an exchange student on a J-1 visa, you will need to pay the full tuition for the school you attend, regardless of whether it is public or private. The exact amount will vary from school to school, but typically you can expect to pay more for a private school.The most common way for students to pay the cost of their tuition and application fees is through their family because international students cannot apply for financial aid from the U.S. government. Some private schools may offer scholarships to international students.



Both categories of visa holders may travel outside of the U.S. for a short period of time, but before you leave, you should confirm the expiry date of your F-1 or J-1 visa, and also you need to check if it is valid for multiple entries. On top of that, you should make sure your I-20 form (for F-1 visa holders) or DS-2019 form (for J-1 visa holders) has been signed for travel by your DSO or the relevant program officer before you leave.

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