Answer: As a prospective international student, there are four basic steps you must complete in order to study at a U.S. university. The first step is to decide which universities to apply to. This is often a complicated task, because you need to know a lot of information to make a good choice. If you have no idea about how to do this, you may consider contacting the closest academic advising center sponsored by your government or by the United States government. Each of these offices can provide excellent advice about schools that you should consider. You should also look at the schools that have links to this site.
After you have decided which schools interest you, the next step is to contact the Office of Admissions at each school and request an admissions application for graduate study. This application will give you details about the process at each school. While you are waiting, it would be a good time to take the TOEFL and any other examinations that will be required by most schools.
The third step is to complete the applications you decide to pursue and to arrange to have all of your records of secondary and post-secondary study sent directly to the schools you have selected. Then send in the applications and the application fees according to the instructions in each application packet.
The final step requires some patience. You must wait until the universities make their admission decisions. This can take some time, so be patient (and apply early!). When you have been accepted, you will be sent a form called an I-20, which is the document you will need in order to get a student visa. Take the I-20 form from the school you wish to attend to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you. Take your passport and proof of financial support (bank statements, scholarship awards, etc.). You will be requesting student visa status, which is usually an F-1 visa.
After you are interviewed and receive approval, a visa will be stamped in your passport. Then you are ready to come to the U.S. to begin study. Make your travel arrangements early to avoid a last minute disappointment.