USA and the UK
- What is an F1 Student Visa?
- What are the F1 Visa requirements?
- How to apply for an F1 Student Visa?
- What are the required documents for an F1 Visa?
- The F1 Visa interview
- How can I prove my non-immigrant intent?
- How to get an F-1 visa renewal?
- Can I lose my F1 Visa status?
- Can I enter the U.S. before my F-1 Visa is issued?
- Can I work in the United States on an F1 Visa?
- Can an F1 Student Visa be denied?
- What is the cost of the F-1 Visa?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is an F1 Student Visa?
The F1 Visa allows eligible international students who wish to attend a full course of study at colleges, universities, and high schools in the United States. The academic institution attended must be certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). In addition, this student visa can be used by foreign nationals coming to the country to attend a language training program.
While in the country, international students are free not only to study and live in the United States but they can also travel abroad without losing their visa status. In addition, F1 visa holders can open a bank account and obtain a driver’s license.
Furthermore, the F1 Visa cannot be used to attend publicly funded adult education programs. Those who would like to pursue a course of study that is not academic, such as post-secondary vocational or business schools, should apply for an M-1 Visa.
The Student Visa does not have an annual cap, meaning that the visa application can be processed as soon as it is submitted which is only a few business days.
What are the F1 Visa requirements?
To be eligible for this student visa, international students must meet the following requirements:
- They have been accepted as an international student by an educational institution in the United States approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Along with a letter of acceptance, they must receive a Form I-20 from their SEVP approved school.
- Prove adequate English proficiency. Those who are applying as participants in a language training program may be exempt from this requirement
- Be able to demonstrate sufficient funds to cover at least the first year of study
- Have non-immigrant intent. This means that the foreign student must be able to prove to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that they have strong ties to their home country. In addition, they must also be willing to leave the U.S. upon their program completion
- Have a valid passport
How to apply for an F1 Student Visa?
If you would like to apply for a student F1 visa, you will first need to apply to a SEVP-approved academic institution. For a list of SEVP-certified schools, you should go to Study in the States to search for a list of approved academic institutions.
You must then be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) where you will need to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. After the SEVIS fee payment has been made, you will then be issued Form I-20 from your school.
If you have eligible dependents (spouses and unmarried children under 21) that you would like to bring with you to the US, they must also enroll in SEVIS to obtain their individual I-20 Forms for their dependent F2 visas. Dependents do not need to pay the SEVIS fee.
You may then begin the F-1 visa application process at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. To do this, the visa applicants will need to complete Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application), submit supporting documentation, and attend a visa interview.
What are the required documents for an F1 Visa?
You can file your application form online or at your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For the F1 Visa, you will need the following supporting documents to make your visa application:
- Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) confirmation page
- Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status)
- A copy of your passport (valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay with at least one blank page)
- Application fee payment receipt
- Two passport-sized pictures that comply with the USCIS standards
- Documents concerning your previous education and academic qualifications such as standardized test scores, diplomas, original transcripts, etc
- Income tax documents or original bank statements to disclose your financial situation
- Scores from English standardized tests, such as TOEFL or IELTS
- Evidence of your intent to depart from the U.S. at the end of your studies
The F1 Visa interview
The last step of your application is an interview, which is required to determine whether or not you qualify for a Student Visa. If you are abroad, this will take place at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
At this visa interview, the consular officer will review your documents and ask you questions about your academic qualifications and choice of university. They will ask questions about the course you are planning to take, as well as your reasons behind opting to study in the US.
You will be required to demonstrate your willingness to return to your home country at the end of your course of study and future plans.
Most importantly, you will need to prove that you have enough means to finance your education and your life in the U.S. The interviewer may ask about your income, who is sponsoring your education and how you plan to cover living expenses while studying.
Attending a visa interview can be daunting so make sure you prepare in advance. Try to keep your answers concise and factual.
How can I prove my non-immigrant intent?
One of the F-1 Visa requirements is to prove that you do not wish to settle in the United States. To help prove that you do not want to immigrate to the United States, visa applicants must show they maintain strong ties with their home country.
To support their F-1 Visa application, visa applicants may prove their non-immigrant intent by demonstrating the following:
- They have immediate family residing in their home country
- They have plans to seek employment abroad after the completion of their U.S. degree
- Frequent visits home by international students
- The visa applicants own property or maintain a bank account in their country
How to get an F-1 visa renewal?
Your visa also indicates the amount of time you can legally stay in the U.S. This usually coincides with the total length of your studies. However, if you need extra time, you can apply for an F-1 Visa renewal.
You need to produce a letter stating the reason for your request so that your designated school official can extend your permit.
If you are going to travel abroad for a short time and your F-1 Visa will expire while you are away, you will need to re-apply for it before you can re-enter the country.
Can I lose my F1 Visa status?
If you fail to maintain your F1 Visa status, you will lose your right to live and study in the U.S.
This can happen as a result of one of the following circumstances:
- You have been working illegally (without an Employment Authorization Document), either off-campus or on-campus
- You overstayed your visa without seeking a renewal
- Your transferred schools without receiving a new Form I-20
- You failed to maintain full-time participation in your courses
Can I enter the U.S. before my F-1 Visa is issued?
You can enter the U.S. 30 days before the registration date printed on your Firm I-20. In addition, you have a further 60 day grace period in the country following the completion of your course.
If you have been admitted to a U.S. university, but are still waiting for your I-20, you may travel to the U.S. for a valid reason. For example, you may need to attend your visa interview appointment at the consulate. In this case, you can submit an application for a B-2 Visitor Visa with a “prospective student” annotation. This permit will let you enter the country for a short time.
It should be noted that foreign students may not study after entering on a visitor visa (B2 Visa) or through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) unless that study is recreational, non-credit, and an allowed program of study under the B-2 Tourist visa.
Can I work in the United States on an F1 Visa?
To get your F1 Visa status, you must be enrolled in a full-time program. Consequently, you may not have any free time to work. However, in limited circumstances, you may get permission to work part-time on-campus as a part of your practical training only after the first year of study is over. International students on an F-1 visa may engage in the following types of off-campus employment:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)
Those who would like to work off-campus in other types of off-campus employment can do so if they can prove that they are in severe economic hardship because of unforeseen circumstances. This may include:
- Their university reduced or eliminated their financial aid
- Their on-campus job is terminated
- Their institution drastically increased its cost
- Unexpected and necessary expenses, such as medical emergencies
- An unforeseen change in their situation, such as marriage or new-born children
Can an F1 Student Visa be denied?
As with any other U.S. visa, the F1 Student visa can be denied for a number of reasons. If you receive a rejection, the USCIS will detail the reasons for the denial in the rejection letter after the application has been processed. F1 Student visas can be rejected for a variety of reasons including the following:
- Not providing the required supporting documents or information in the visa application
- Previously been in violation of a past U.S. visa
- Applying late
- Unable to prove that you have sufficient funding for your studies in the United States
- Unable to prove that you have the intention of returning home after your studies have finished
- Unable to pass a government security check
To minimize your chances of the visa application being rejected, it is important that you complete the visa application thoroughly and truthfully. To make sure that your application is completed to the highest standard, it is recommended that an immigration lawyer experienced in handling student visas, check the application along with the portfolio of supporting documents.
Furthermore, an immigration attorney can also advise you on your options if you find that your application has been denied.
What is the cost of the F-1 Visa?
As well as the cost of education in the United States, international students will be expected to pay the following fees in order to obtain an F-1 visa:
- Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) fee: $160
- SEVIS I-901 Fee: $200
- Visa issuance fee: costs will vary depending on the country where the visa was issued
- Biometrics fee: $85
- Certified translations: costs may vary
- Costs of standardized tests: costs will vary
Last modified on August 29th, 2023 at 9:54 am
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The F1 Visa is a non-immigrant permit for international students, meaning it does not create a path to U.S. settlement. Consequently, you cannot directly move from an F1 visa to a Green Card.
While on a Student Visa, you are not allowed to apply for permanent residence. This would be considered a violation of status, resulting in a temporary ban from the U.S. However, you may try to adjust your status.
One good idea could be to apply for an H-1B visa. This permit is designed for foreign nationals that hold a degree in a specialized field, such as IT, finance, or science.
However, if you do not wish to contend your place with other participants in the annual lottery, you can file your I-129 Form to petition for other visas.
Once you have obtained a dual intent visa, you may immediately file for a Green Card. For example, if you already got a master’s degree, you may want to consider an EB-2 immigrant Green Card.
Before you can petition for a new status, you must have been in F1 status for at least one academic year.
U.S. visa processing time will depend on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate from where the international student is applying. Some embassies and consulates might take longer than others due to a backlog or a heavy workload.
Typically, visas can be processed anywhere from 3 days to several weeks. Of course, this will depend on the strength of the application and that no additional evidence or documents will be required. It should be noted that visa applications that require the submission of additional information can take months to process.
It is currently faster to apply for an F2B visa than an F1 visa. That said, this can change and it is always best to refer to the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin for progress and updates on the various visas that are available for the US.
If your F1 visa application has been rejected and you wish to receive professional guidance, you can entrust your case with one of our immigration attorneys. IAS will assist in obtaining your F-1 Visa and deliver only the best strategy necessary for your application.
Our immigration experts offer complete attention to your case, providing a service tailored to your needs.
Your lawyer will be involved in every step of your application, offering:
- A complete review of your case and immigration history
- A check of your situation to assess if you meet the F1 Visa requirements
- Comprehensive support if your application is rejected
- Liaison with the USCIS on your behalf
- Complete preparation for your F1 Visa interview
Get in touch today at +1 844 290 6312 or ask for a free call back to learn more about our immigration services.