F-1 Visa – Students

F-1 Academic Student

F-2 Spouse or child of F-1

F-1 Academic Student

This visa for foreign nationals to enter the United States for the purpose of pursuing academic studies at accredited educational institutions. This is a non-immigrant visa which authorizes the stay for studying and is temporary. It is the most common type of visa for foreign students to study at U.S. educational institutions, including universities, colleges, high schools, language training programs, and other academic institutions.

F-1 visa is for a student who wants to enter the US to attend a University or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, another academic institution, including a language training program.

In comparison, M visa is for the suitable vis a, vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program.

The course of study and the type of school determines if one is qualified for F visa or M visa.

Foreign nationals may not study after entering on a visitor (B) visa or through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). A foreign national may enter the US in visitor (B) visa or using Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for enrollment in a short recreational course of study, which is not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • To be eligible for an F-1 visa, the student must have been accepted by a U.S. educational institution and intend to pursue a full course of study, and
  • The student must also demonstrate that he/she has sufficient funds to cover the tuition, living expenses, and other costs during his/her stay in the U.S.

Students who wish to study in the US first must apply to a SEVP approved university or school. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a government program that tracks and monitors the status of international students in the U.S. After the university or school accepts the student’s enrollment and issues an I-20 Form, the student will be registered in the SEVIS and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before applying for your visa.

To apply for an F-1 visa, the student will need to complete the DS-160 online application form, pay the visa application fee, and schedule an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in his/her home country. During the interview, the student will need to demonstrate his/her ties to his/her home country, intention to return after completing studies in US, and his/her ability to cover your expenses in the U.S.

F-1 visas are typically issued for the duration of the student’s program of study. They can also be extended if the student needs additional time to complete their studies.

Upon issuance of a via the student can enter the US before the start date on the Form I-20. He/she has to report to the I-20 issuing institution and join it.

Employment opportunity:

F-1 visa holders have very limited opportunities for employment while studying. They are typically allowed to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during breaks. In some instances, students can opt for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) based on some specific rules and guidelines which allows for off-campus employment directly related to the student’s major.

F-1 students are required to maintain their student status by attending the required classes, making satisfactory academic progress to meet the program guidelines, and complying with the rules and regulations of their educational institution and the U.S. immigration authorities.

The students can travel outside of the U.S. during their studies, but they need to ensure they have the necessary documents like a valid F-1 visa and his/her school’s Form I-20 to re-enter the US.

After the student completes his/her program and gets the degree, he/she can leave the US or opt to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows him/her to work off-campus in his/her field of study for up to 12 months (or up to 36 months for certain STEM fields) as long as he/she maintains F-1 status.

Family of F-1 Student:

Spouses of F-1 students and unmarried children under 21 years of age are eligible for F-2 visas generally will be granted the same period of stay as the F-1 students.

Spouses of F-1 visa holders are not eligible to apply for work authorization.

Period of Stay/Extension of Stay:

Initial Period of Stay: typically issued for the duration of the student’s program of study

Extension of Stay: can also be extended if the student needs additional time to complete their studies.

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