Many schools in the United States offer great opportunities for students who wish to further their education and training. If a student wants to attend a university, school, or other academic institution in the United States, he/she needs a student (F-1) visa. The intellectual stimulation and social interaction gained by studying in the U.S. can become a vital element in a student’s growth and development. F-1 visa is a type of nonimmigrant student visa that allows a foreigner to continue education (academic studies and/or language training programs) in the United States. F-1 visa is only issued in U.S. embassies and consulates outside the United States. Primarily, an anticipated F-1 student must apply at the school and receive a form I-20 in the process to get the F-1 visa. F-1 students must show that they are able to support themselves during their stay in the U.S., as their opportunities for legal employment are quite limited.

Note:  Applicant’s dependent children are not allowed to have full-time study if you visited into the U.S. holding B-2 visa or free under the Visa Waiver Program.

Eligibility Criteria

Foreign national students who want to study in the U.S. usually apply for the F-1 visa. Likewise, candidates applying for the F1 visa must be able to meet certain requirements:

  • Language is the basic need for a candidate to proceed with to have an F-1 visa. Candidate must have adequate knowledge of English language to continue the intended course, except special language tuition arrangements, have been made with the institution or the course of study in an English language program.
  • Candidates must be approved into a course of study at a recognized U.S. educational institution and be able to provide documentation indicating their enrollment status.
  • Sufficient funds required for paying the fee or to bear living expenses throughout the course.
  • Candidate must have declared document of admission as a student from a recognized U.S. educational institution.
  • Candidates must assure that he/she intends to return back to their home country upon completion of their course and expiry of their U.S. study visas.

Documentation

There are some necessary documents which are required for obtaining an F-1 visa:

  • A current valid passport as well as the old passport if any is needed.
  • One 2 x 2 photograph is needed. See photograph requirements for more information.
  • Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, confirmation page is needed.
  • Application fee payment receipt is needed.
  • Original interview appointment letter and one copy are needed.
  • SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information System) generated Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) both bar-coded pages and one copy of Form I-20 are needed, which is obtained from a U.S. college, school, or university and signed by you and a school official.
  • Your spouse or dependent (everyone who will accompany you and be applying for the U.S. visa) must be registered in SEVIS (Student Exchange and Visitor Information System). Your school is liable to enter your information for the Form I-20 into SEVIS.

Note: Form I-20 does not need to be sealed into an envelope; however you have to carry Form I-20 along with you during travel as it will be checked by the immigration officer at the port of entry in order to enter into the U.S.

How to Apply

In order to apply for an F-1 visa, you need to follow the below-mentioned process. It may differ at the U.S. embassy or consulate where you apply. Please refer the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you intend to apply.

  • You are required to fill Form I-20 obtained from the school or academic institution.
  • You have to complete an online DS-160 Form, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application.
  • You have to upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. 

Duration of Stay

Generally, an F-1 visa is granted for the duration of the course of study; however, candidates may remain in the country for up to 60 days after the course is completed.

Spouse and Children

F-2 status allows your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to join you in the U.S. Note that you should bring them with you when you visit the consulate to apply for your F-1 visa. If your spouse and/or dependent children are joining you later, they will need to submit a copy of your USCIS Form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students) and documents proving their relationship with you to the U.S. embassy staff. The F-2 status of spouse and children is dependent upon your F-1 status. As soon as you are no longer an F-1 student, your family will lose their F-2 status.