The F-1 Visa or (student visa) was designed for citizens of a foreign country that wish to enter the United States to study. The F-1 is a non immigrant visa for temporary stay with no dual intent.
Foreign nationals may not study after entering on a B2 (visitor) visa except when the enrollment is in a short recreational study (non-credit) toward a degree or academic certificate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply for the F-1 Visa?
To qualify under the F-1 visa category, the petitioner must demonstrate the following:
- Academic preparation, such as:
- Transcripts, diplomas, degrees or certificates from, schools you attended; and
- Standardized test scores required by your U.S. School;
- Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
- How will you pay for all educational, living and travel costs.
What are the steps to obtain an F-1 Visa?
Step 1: Apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States. After the SEVP approved school accepts your enrollment you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.
- The SEVP school will issue you a Form I-20. After you receive the Form I-20 and register in SEVIS, you may now apply at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy for the F-1 visa. – You must present the Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
Step 2: Complete the Online Visa Application (Form DS-160)
- Photo- you will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160.
- Passport- valid for travel to the United States for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.
Step 3: Application fee payment receipt.
Step 4: Schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live.
How long can I remain in the United States with the F-1 Visa?
Once you are approved for an F-1 Visa you will now travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (airport) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry will permit or deny your admission to the U.S.
You can enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the start date of your program.
Once you are allowed to enter the United States the CBP Official will provide an admission stamp (Form I-94) Arrival/Departure Record for the time granted to you on your I-20.
NOTE: Foreign students with F-1 visas must depart the United States within 60 days after the program end date listed on the Form I-20, including authorized practical training.
Can I bring my family with me to the United States with an F-1 Visa?
Your spouse and unmarried minor children who intend to reside with you during your study may apply for F-2 visas. The SEVP school that you will be attending has to issue them an individual Form I-20, as well as provide a copy of your approved F-1 visa and proof of relationship.
Your minor children are permitted to attend school in the United States while accompanying you.
Your spouse and minor children must also have a valid passport for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States.
F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in three 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)
For any employment to be performed off-campus must be related to their area of study and must be authorized prior to starting any work by the Designated School Official and USCIS.
If you transfer to another school or begin studies at another educational level, your authorization to engage in OPT employment will automatically terminate.
Although your authorization to engage in OPT will end, as long as you comply with all requirements for maintaining your student status, your F-1 status will not be affected by USCIS terminating your EAD. Maintaining your student status includes not working on a terminated EAD, as the termination means that you are no longer authorized to work in the United States using that OPT EAD.
Working in the United States without authorization has serious consequences, including removal from the country and reentry bars.