International Students Studying an LLM in the USA

International LLM StudentThere are many reasons why international students choose to come to America to study their LLM program – it is after all the original land of opportunity. However as an international student there are a few things you need to do in preparation to ensure a smooth arrival and stay in the US.

Applying for a visa as an LLM student

Pretty much everyone from a country other than the United States will need to obtain a visa before being granted entry to the country – and as a student you will need an F-1 student visa. It’s important to note that this is necessary even if you are studying a distance learning Master of Laws program if part of the course requires you to spend time on the campus, even for a short duration.

Applying for a student visa to study in the US will differ slightly according to which country you are from and thus the US Embassy or Consulate where you apply, therefore it’s really important to look at the website of the embassy/consulate that you are applying to, to make sure you read the relevant instructions to you. However, generally speaking you will need to complete an online visa application form, upload a photo of a specific format and schedule an interview.Once you have been accepted at your US law school you will be enrolled on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and after paying the registration fee your US law school will give you a Form I-20 to take to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.

LLM student visa interview

The waiting list for interviews will vary according to country and the time of year – so make sure you schedule yours in plenty of time. It’ll also be necessary for your passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States. Additional documents may be required for the interview, such as; academic certificates; standardised test scores required by your US school; evidence of your intent to leave the United States upon completion of the course of study; evidence of funds for the payment of educational, living and travel costs.

During your visa interview, the consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa to study in the United States. You can receive your visa up to 120 days before starting your LLM program, however you cannot enter the country until a maximum of 30 days before your course starts.

Tuition fees for international LLM students

Unlike UK law schools, law schools in the United States don’t usually differentiate between domestic and international students in terms of tuition fees for Master of Laws courses. Although, as a rule the public universities charge lower fees for students from within the same state compared to everyone else, both out of a state and international. Private universities in the US usually have one set fee for everyone.

Tuition fees for LLM programs do vary significantly from university to university – and it is a well-know fact that studying postgraduate law in the USA is a costly business, in fact you can expect to pay up to $50,000 for a one-year full-time Master of Laws program. But bear in mind that this is a great investment in your future and there are some great funding opportunities and scholarships available to help you fund your LLM in the USA, so make sure you do your research. International students are not eligible for federal aid provided by the US government, however many universities in the US do provide their own aid schemes for international students – so do find out what’s on offer at your chosen law school.

Other costs associated with being an LLM student in the USA

As well as funding your tuition fees, as an international student you will also have to prove that you can fund your living costs as well as any other relevant costs such as course resources, health insurance, travel costs, etc. Living costs vary widely from state to state, so for example what you can expect to pay in rent for accommodation near a law school in New York City will be considerable higher than one in Ohio State – so you need to take this into consideration when selecting your law school. Plus, as an international student you may also want to factor in the costs associated with flying home for the holidays – and this will obviously depend on how far away your home country is and what US airport you are living near.

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