What is an F1 Student Visa?

If you are a foreign pupil who wishes to attend a U.S.-based educational institution, you can apply for an F1 Student Visa. This permit covers any study courses, as long as an accredited institution accept your application.

This is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning you must prove your intent to go back to your home country at the end of your studies. However, it lets you live in the U.S. with the freedom to travel abroad until you complete your studies.

Ask IAS for Student Visa guidance

At IAS, we believe in the importance of pursuing education, and we are happy to help students follow their dreams in the U.S.

Our expert immigration advisers will file all the required documents for your F1 Visa application. As a part of our service, we can also write a Letter of Representation to support your case. We will follow you through every step of your process, liaising with the USCIS and your educational institution if necessary.

To discuss your case with one of our experts, call us today or use our online contact form.


What is an F1 Student Visa?

The F1 Student Visa is suitable for eligible pupils who wish to attend a full course of study at colleges, universities, and high schools in the U.S.

It can also be used by foreign nationals coming to the country to attend a language training program. However, it must be noted that the F1 Visa cannot be used to attend publicly funded adult education programs.

If you wish to pursue a course of study that is not academic, such as post-secondary vocational or business schools, you should apply for an M-1 Visa.

What are the benefits of holding an F1 Visa status?

The Student Visa does not have an annual cap, meaning that your application can be processed as soon as you submit it. Besides, the F1 Visa processing time usually takes only a few business days.

While on your F1 Visa status, you can travel freely in and out of the U.S. You can also get a driver’s license and open a bank account.

You can remain in the country until the completion of your studies. During this time, you can apply to bring your eligible dependents (your partner and unmarried children under the age of 21) to the U.S. To join you in the country, they can apply for an F2 Visa.

What are the F1 Visa requirements?

Foreign pupils may be eligible for this permit if they meet the following F1 Visa requirements:

  • Have been accepted as a student by an educational institution accredited by the USCIS. Along with a letter of acceptance, you must receive a Form I-120A-B from your chosen association;
  • Prove adequate English proficiency. If you are applying as a language-training participant, you may be exempt from this requirement;
  • Evidence of enough funds to cover at least the first year of study;
  • Have nonimmigrant intent. This means you must prove strong ties to your home country. You must also be willing to leave the U.S. upon completion of your course of study.

How can I prove my nonimmigrant intent?

One of the F1 Visa requirements is to prove that you do not wish to settle in the U.S. To this end, you must show you are maintaining strong ties with your home country.

To support your F1 Visa application, you may wish to show that:

  • Your immediate family resides in your home country;
  • You have plans to seek employment abroad after you complete your degree in the U.S.;
  • You make frequent visits home;
  • You own property or maintain a bank account in your country.

How to apply for an F1 Student Visa?

The first step of your F1 Student Visa application is to obtain a Form I-120A-B from the academic institution of your choice. Only schools that have received the USCIS approval can issue this document. It is important to note that receiving this form alone does not guarantee a successful F1 Student Visa application. The USCIS will make the final decision regardless of your institution’s opinion.

You can file your application form online or at your local U.S. consulate. Do not forget to include the following:

  • A DOS Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application);
  • A DOS Form DS-158 (Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant);
  • A copy of your passport, which needs to be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay and have one blank page;
  • Two passport-sized pictures that comply with the USCIS standards;
  • Transcripts from previous educational institutions attended;
  • Income tax documents or original bank statements to disclose your financial situation;
  • Scores from English standardizes tests, such as TOEFL or IELTS;
  • Evidence of your intent to depart from the U.S. at the end of your studies.

As the last stage of your F1 Visa application, you will be summoned for an interview. A USCIS officer will ask you question about your academic qualifications and your plans once in the U.S.

I hold an F1 Visa. Can I seek employment in the U.S.?

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.

If you wish to seek off-campus employment, you can prove that you are in financial hardship because of unforeseen circumstances. This may include:

  • Your university reduced or eliminated your financial aid;
  • Your on-campus job is terminated;
  • Your institution drastically increased its cost;
  • Unexpected and necessary expenses, such as medical emergencies;
  • An unforeseen change in your situation, such as marriage or new-born children.

Can I enter the U.S. before my F1 Visa is issued?

You can enter the U.S. up to 90 days before the registration date printed on your Firm 1-20A-B. In addition, you have further 60 days of grace period in the country following the completion of your course.

If you have been admitted to a U.S. university, but you are still waiting for your I-20A-B, you may travel to the U.S. for a valid reason. For example, you may need to attend your 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.

How to get an F1 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 F1 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 need to re-apply for it before you can re-enter the country.

Can I adjust my status from an F1 Visa to Green Card?

The F1 Student Visa is a nonimmigrant permit, meaning it does not create a path to U.S. settlement. Consequently, you cannot directly move from an F1 visa to 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 now 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 EB2 immigrant Green Card.

Before you can petition for a new status, you must have been in F1 status for at least one academic year.

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, either off-campus or on-campus;
  • You overstayed your visa without seeking a renewal;
  • Your transferred schools without receiving a new Form I-120A-B;
  • You failed to maintain full-time participation in your courses.

Do you need help with your F1 Visa application?

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;
  • Complete preparation for your F1 Visa interview.

Get in touch today or ask for a free call back to learn more about our immigration services.

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