● F1 Student Visa Overview
● F1 Student Visa Eligibility
● F1 Student Visa Application Process
● F1 Student Visa Interview
● F1 Student Visa Denial
● Working in the US on the F1 Student Visa
● Maintaining the F1 Status
● F1 Student Visa Extension
● How can IAS help?
● Frequently Asked Questions
What is the F1 Student Visa?
If you are an international student and you would like to come to the US to study, you can apply for an F1 Student Visa. It is the most popular type of student visa and it allows you to study any course you want at colleges, universities, and high schools in the US, as long as they accept your application. The institution you will be studying at has to be certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
While your visa is valid, you will be able to travel freely around the US and abroad without having to worry about losing your status. Nevertheless, the F1 Student Visa is a non-immigrant visa, which means that you have to prove your intention to leave the US once the visa expires.
If you want to find out whether you are eligible for the F1 Student Visa, talk to our immigration lawyers.
Who is eligible for the F1 Student Visa?
For your F1 Student Visa application to be accepted, you have to meet the following criteria:
- Have been accepted as a student by a US institution approved by SEVP
- Have been enrolled as a full-time student
- Have a good command of English
- Have sufficient funds available to finance your studies and your stay in the US
- Have a valid passport.
You also have to be able to prove that you have a non-immigrant intent, which means that you are willing to leave the US once your study finishes. To demonstrate that you have to provide evidence of strong ties to your home country. As a student, you might not have a job, a house, or children in your country of residence so an immigration officer will look at aspects such as your family situation and your long-term plans in your home country.
How to apply for the F1 Student Visa?
To apply for the F1 Student Visa, you have to first get accepted by a USCIS-accredited institution. Once a university or college approves your application and gives you permission to participate in their courses, your I-120A-B Form will be issued. It is a document that records information about your study programme’s start and end dates, the programme’s fees, your funding sources, and other personal information.
Your chosen university provides the information included in the I-120A-B Form based on what you submitted in your application. When you receive the Form, make sure that all the information is correct. If there are any mistakes, you might not be granted entry to the US.
The next step is to pay your F1 Student Visa fees of around $510. Make sure you keep the receipt as you will need to bring it to your visa interview.
After you have settled the visa fee, you can complete the DS-160 Form, Non-immigrant Visa Application and submit it to USCIS. Then you can schedule and later attend your visa interview at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.
After successfully completing the visa interview, you will receive your F1 Student Visa and you will be able to start preparing for the journey to the US.
How to prepare for the F1 Student Visa interview?
Attending the visa interview is the last step of the visa application process. The goal of the interview is to verify whether the information you provided in your application is true and whether you qualify for the visa. Before you attend the interview, you have to make sure to prepare the following documents:
- A copy of your valid passport
- A passport size photograph
- Receipts proving that you paid the required fees
- I-120A-B Form
- Your academic transcript from previously attended institutions
- Bank statements proving that you have enough finances to live and study in the US.
- Standardised test scores from exams testing your knowledge of English, for example from TOEFL or IELTS
- Proof that you intend to leave the US after you finish your studies.
During the interview, an immigration officer will review these documents and ask you questions about your academic goals in the US. They might ask you about your previous grades and your choice of university in the US.
You can also expect to be asked questions about how you intend to pay for your education in the US, and whether you intend to find employment alongside your studies. On top of that, you will have to demonstrate your willingness to return to your home country after your studies.
Attending a visa interview can be stressful. If you hire one of our immigration lawyers, they can help you prepare for it by giving you a detailed overview of how the appointment will look like and what questions you can expect to hear.
Can my F1 Student Visa be denied?
Unfortunately, as it is the case with all US visas, your application for the F1 Student Visa might be denied. If that happens, you will receive an explanation from USCIS that will state exactly which section of the law resulted in the rejection.
The most common reason for the F1 Student Visa being denied is not providing all the required information or not including all the supporting documents. Other reasons for denial include having previously violated the conditions of one’s US visa, not being able to prove that the applicant intends to return home once the study program is finished, or lying in the visa application.
To make sure that your application is complete and that you included all the necessary documents, contact our immigration lawyers. They will go over your visa application and help you fill any missing information.
If your F1 Student Visa has already been denied, our lawyers can advise you on what your options are.
Can I work in the US on the F1 Student Visa?
To be eligible for the F1 Student Visa, you have to be accepted to a full-time study programme so you might not have a lot of time to work. Nevertheless, if you wish to do so, you will be able to work in the US on the F1 Student Visa.
There two main rules you have to follow, however:
● You can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week
● You can only work part-time on campus
If you are experiencing financial hardship because of unforeseen circumstances, you can seek university’s approval to work off campus. The extraordinary situations that might qualify you for it include:
● Your on-campus job has been terminated
● You have sudden expenses for essential things such as medical treatment
● Your financial aid has been reduced
● The cost of studying has increased.
During academic breaks, your university might allow you to work full-time. Still, keep in mind that the main purpose of your trip to the US should be to study rather than to work. If you would like to come to the US to engage in income-generating activities, you should consider applying for one of US work visas such as H2B Visa. If you do not want to engage in full time education but you would like to come to the US to receive training, you could apply for the H3 Visa.
How to maintain my F1 status?
As an international student coming to the US temporarily, you have to actively maintain your F1 status to be able to continue studying in the US. To do, you have to follow the rules of the university and the conditions of your F1 Student Visa.
If you do not want to lose your status, you cannot do the following:
- Work illegally, either off-campus or on-campus
- Stay in the US past the expiration date of your F1 Student Visa
- Transfer to a different school without first receiving a new Form I-120A-B
- Frequently miss classes
- Drop a class or change classes without first getting an official approval.
If you fail to maintain your F1 status, you will lose your right to stay and study in the US.
Can I extend my F1 Student Visa?
Your F1 Student Visa will expire shortly after your study course finishes. Usually, once your programme comes to an end, you will have 60 days to leave the US. Nevertheless, if you need more time to complete your coursework, you can apply for the extension of the F1 Student Visa.
To qualify for the renewal, you will have to prepare a letter to a designated school official (DSO) in which you explain why you need to stay in the US longer. The DSO will verify whether you have been maintaining your F1 status and whether you are applying for the visa extension due to academic or medical reasons. Situations that might make you eligible for the F1 Visa extension include suffering from an illness, changing to a different major, dealing with unforeseen challenges during research.
If they agree to have you as a student for longer, you will have to file and submit Form DS-160. If you are applying for academic or medical reasons, you will most likely be granted the extension, as long as you can prove that you will be able to support yourself financially during the extension period. If, however, you want to stay in the US longer for reasons such as retaking a class because you are not satisfied with the grade, USCIS may not allow you to remain in the country.
How can IAS help?
Many international students dream of coming to the US to attend university. Our immigration lawyers are committed to helping them make this dream become a reality. Applying for a US Visa can be a complex process and it is easy to forget to include some information or supporting documents. Sadly, such mistakes can negatively affect the outcome of your application and lead to your F1 Student Visa being denied. By hiring one of our immigration lawyers, you can be sure that your application is complete and your portfolio of evidence features all the documents that immigration officers might need.
At IAS, we will assess your eligibility for the F1 Student Visa and we will guide you through the application process, from start to finish. We will support you throughout the application and we will always be around to answer all your questions.
Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more about how we can help.
Last modified on August 29th, 2023 at 2:55 pm
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If you are granted the F1 Student Visa, you will be able to enter the US 30 days before the start date on your I-20 Form. The F1 Student Visa can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your study course start date. Nevertheless, as the waiting time for the F1 Visa varies, it is recommended to apply for it early.
Once your course finished, you will have additional 60 days of grace period during which you can stay in the US.
Unfortunately, if you come to the US on the F1 Student Visa, you are not be allowed to start and operate a business and receive money for running it. When it comes to working on the F1 Student Visa, you can work up to 20 hours a day on-campus. If you would like to find employment off-campus, you have to get university’s approval first.
The processing time of the F1 Student Visa application varies depending on the workload of the US Embassy or a Consulate where you are applying. Some applicants wait just three days, while others several weeks. If there are any issues with your application or you forgot to include some necessary information, the processing time can last a few months.
The total cost of the F1 Student Visa is around $510 per application. That includes the cost of the visa itself, as well as the processing and maintenance fees. Your visa application fee is non-refundable and it cannot be transferred to another applicant.