US F-1 Student Visa: Get All The Info

In this post, we’ll look at the US F-1 Student Visa. It’s an important document for anyone who wants to study in the US.

Investing in your future by going to college in the United States is a fantastic choice. More than a million foreign students come to the US yearly to take advantage of the country’s staunch education system.

To study in the United States, you usually need an F-1 Student Visa.

What is the F1 Student Visa?

F-1 student visas are non-immigrant visas that allow foreign nationals to visit the US to attend a SEVP-approved educational institution.

You can only apply for an F-1 visa after getting acceptance to study at an approved school in the United States. Also, the time you can study as an F-1 student depends on the type of program you enroll in.

The completion date will appear on the I-20 form issued to you by the school you plan to attend. However, to stay in the United States for the full amount of time allowed, you must complete your degree program before the indicated expiration date.

Following your graduation, you may be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This will permit you to work for up to 12 months in the US in a field related to your studies.

For STEM graduates, you can request two additional years of work in a related field. If you do not have any extensions or additional training, you will need to return to your home country within 60 days after graduating.

Who is eligible for the F1 Student Visa?

You must satisfy the following requirements to be eligible for an F1 Student Visa: 

  • You must be enrolled full-time at a SEVP-approved school in the United States. 
  • You must be fluent in English
  • You must possess a valid passport
  • You must have adequate means to cover your education and living expenses while in the United States.
  • You must also demonstrate that you do not intend to remain in the United States permanently after your studies have concluded. For this, you must show that you have strong ties to your home nation.

An immigration officer will consider factors including your family status and long-term goals in your home country, even if you do not have a job, property, or children there.

How to apply for the F1 Student Visa?

1. Get Acceptance and Get Your I-20

Getting accepted into a school in the United States with authorization by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is the first step in obtaining an F-1 student visa.

Certification from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) demonstrates to the US government that your school is legitimate and has the means to offer you a quality education. 

After admission, you will get an I-20 form from the school. You can use this form to record your study goals and stay details. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will contain the following details:

  • Your SEVIS ID number
  • Your program start and end dates
  • Your intended program of study
  • Your funding sources
  • Cost of attendance at your school of choice
  • Other personal information

This information comes from your university and is based on what you say in your application materials.

Immediately after receiving your I-20, double-check that all of your information is correct before signing at the bottom of the first page. If there is a mistake on your I-20, it may take a while to fix it. During this period, you might not be gain entry into the country.

When you visit the US, keep your form I-20. It is neccesacry for entry into the US, employment, and many other purposes, including obtaining a US driver’s license.

2. Pay The SEVIS Fee

Your F-1 student visa will cost you about $510 total, including the cost of the visa itself as well as SEVIS processing and maintenance fees.

  • Requirements: Yours I-20
  • Cost: $350 
  • Where to apply: Payment portal for your SEVIS fee

Make sure to save the I-901 SEVIS fee receipt. You will need it for your visa interview. 

3. Submit Your DS-160 Visa Application

For an F-1 student visa, international students must submit a DS-160 form. What you need for the applicated includes a completed form I-20, international passport, itinerary, and passport photographs.

The application costs  $160. If your DS-160 application receives approval, you will get a printed confirmation with a barcode. Do not lose this document, because you need it for your visa interview.

4. Book Your Visa Interview

Schedule your visa interview at the closest US embassy or consulate. Remember to schedule your appointments as early as you can because wait times might vary by country and last for months. 

You can ask an expert about interview strategies for student visas or how to organize a practice interview if you’re enrolling at a US university. You might feel more at ease with the procedure by practicing for your visa interview beforehand.

Preparing For Interview

The last step in getting a visa is to attend the interview. During the interview, consular officials will evaluate your qualifications for the visa and the accuracy of the information you supplied in your application. Make sure you have the following materials ready before you head out for your interview:

  • 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 to prove that you have enough finances to live and study in the US.
  • Standardized 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.

An immigration officer will look over these items and quiz you about your plans to study in the United States during your interview. There is a chance they will inquire about your academic history and the US university of your choosing. 

Questions concerning your plans for finding work to help fund your studies and other expenses while in the United States are also to be expected. You’ll also need to show that you’re committed to finishing your education in your own country. 

Can F1 Student Visa be denied?

A denial of your F1 Student Visa application is possible, as it is with any US visa. If that happens, USCIS will send you a letter explaining why your application was denied and citing the specific statute that was broken. 

One of the most common causes of F1 visa denial is incomplete applications. Denials can also occur if an applicant has a history of visa violations, has lied on their application, or does not plan to return home after their program is complete. 

Get in touch with our immigration attorneys to double-check that you have submitted a full application with all required documentation. They’ll review your visa application and fill in the blanks with you. 

A good immigration attorney can help you figure out what to do next if your F1 Student Visa application is rejected.

Does the F1 Student Visa Permit Work?

As you must be accepted into a full-time study program to qualify for the F1 Student Visa, you may not have much time to work. However, if you have an F1 student visa, you will be eligible to work in the United States. 

There are, however, two major guidelines you must adhere to: 

  1. You are restricted to working no more than 20 hours a week and must find your employment off-campus. 
  2. You can apply for permission to work off campus from the university if you are having financial difficulties.

You may be eligible for it if one of the following exceptional circumstances applies to you:

  • You lost your on-campus job
  • You incurred unexpected costs for necessities like medical care
  • Your financial aid was decreased
  • The cost of attending school increased

Your school might let you work full-time during academic breaks. However, remember that your time in the United States should mostly be spent learning rather than working.

Work visas, such as the H2B, allow foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily to do services that would generate cash. The H3 Visa is for people who do not want to go to school full time but want to come to the United States for training.

How Can You Maintain Your F-1 Visa Status

If you are an international student studying in the United States temporarily, you must take affirmative steps to keep your F1 status to remain in the country legally.

Your success will depend on your compliance with both the regulations of the school and the terms of your F1 Student Visa. 

These are what you should avoid:

  • Performing any kind of illicit employment, whether on or off campus 
  • Extending your stay in the United States beyond the F1 visa’s expiration date. 
  • Changing your academic program without obtaining a new Form I-120A-B 
  • Skipping school frequently 
  • Changing your schedule or withdrawing from a class without permission. 

A student’s right to remain in the United States and pursue further education might be revoked if they fail to keep their F1 status valid.

F1 Student Visa Extension

In a short time after your program ends, your F1 Student Visa will expire. You will typically have 60 days from the end of your program to depart the United States.

However, if you find that you need additional time to finish your studies, you can submit an application to have your F1 Student Visa extended.

To be eligible for the renewal, you must write a letter to a designated school official (DSO) detailing the reasons you need to remain in the United States for an additional period. Your DSO will check to see if you’ve been keeping your F1 status and whether or not you need the visa extension for academic or medical grounds. Illness, changing your major, or encountering difficulties in your research are all examples of situations that could qualify you for an F1 Visa extension.

You’ll need to fill out and send in Form DS-160 if you want to stay on as a student for longer.

If you need the extension for school or health reasons, you should have little trouble getting it approved. Simply show that you have enough money to cover your living costs during the extension time.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may refuse to let you stay in the country if you want to do things like retaking a class after failing the first time. 

Bottom Line

Getting an F-1 Student Visa can set you on a journey of living in the United States. Although it’s a non-immigrant visa, you can explore possibilities that could allow you to stay in the US permanently. It’s possible if you do very well in class.

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