F-1 Student Visa

FAQ

Will I be able to bring my family with me on an F-1 visa?

Yes, you can bring your spouse and children with you and they will apply for F-2 visas. A SEVIS fee payment is not required for them but your school must issue them an individual Form I-20. You will need to show your own F-1 status and provide proof of relationship and means to support them.

Will I be able to work while on an F-1 visa?

F-1 students cannot work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, F-1 students can 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) OPT

Will I owe taxes if I work in the US while on an F-1 visa?

This depends on your individual taxation situation, but typically you might be required to file a U.S. tax return. 

What if I want to change schools during my F-1 visa period?

Generally, an F-1 student may transfer between SEVP-certified schools. However, this does involve paperwork and coordination. 

Can I stay in the US after I finish my studies?

There are some programs and visas available for F-1 visa holders after you finish studying in the United States. These can be highly individual to your circumstances, field of study, and professional background, so do your research carefully.

 

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F-1 Interview

For your interview at a U.S. Embassy or consulate, you will need to bring your I-20 form and various other forms of evidence, proving your identity, previous studies, that you will return home after your time in the US and your ability to pay school fees and support yourself. 

The consular officer will also take your fingerprints, although this will vary depending on your location. 

After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing. They will let you know if this is required.

Once your interview is complete, you will be informed of the outcome and, if successful, you'll be issued a visa to study in the US.

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F-1 Process

Once you have been accepted onto a course of study by a U.S. academic institution, here’s the process to obtain your student visa.

After your SEVP-approved school accepts your enrollment, you are added to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and once registered, you will have to pay the I-901 fee. This fee is currently $350 for most people.

Your school will then issue you a Form I-20. This form confirms your acceptance at the school, and so your eligibility for the F-1 visa. Once Form I-20 has been issued, you will be able to apply to a US embassy or consulate for your F-1 visa.

The visa application form is quite detailed and can take some time to complete.

Then, you'll need to schedule an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, unless you are under 13 years of age or over 80 years of age. You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where you live. 

Before your interview, you will need to pay the $160 visa application fee and also, depending on your nationality, pay an issuance fee, as well. The visa issuance fee is only due after your interview, if your visa is approved. The next step will be the interview.

Visa wait times can vary depending on the time of year and location.

F-1 visas for new students can only be issued up to 120 days ahead of the start date for a course of study. For existing F-1 visas, this is not the case and visas can be issued any time, as long as the student is currently enrolled at a SEVP-approved school or institution and in SEVIS.

All prospective students must apply for a visa to study in the US, unless that person is already a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

The F-1 visa allows a student to temporarily live in the United States for a specified period of time while studying at a school, college, seminary or conservatory.

Because there are so many courses and places to study in the US, the F-1 visa is quite expansive, but there are also some clear rules. First, you must come to the United States with the intention of studying temporarily. The F-1 is not an immigrant visa, so the idea is that you have to return home after your studies.

You must study at an educational institution rather than training at a vocational school, which requires an M-1 visa. Your school must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP). In other words, the school must be authorized to accept foreign students on an F-1 visa.

You can work, but since it is a non-immigrant visa, your options for location and type of work are limited.

Finally, if your spouse and children come with you, they cannot work, but your children can attend school. They hold an F-2 visa and are related to your visa status.

 

F-1 Visa Eligibility
The F-1 Visa Process
F-1 Visa Interview
FAQ

Eligibility

- You must apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States and pass a course of study. SEVP-approved schools can be universities as well as high schools, seminaries, private elementary schools, conservatories, or language programs.
- You must be enrolled as a full-time student at an educational institution.
- You must be proficient in English or enrolled in a course to improve your English and you must have sufficient financial means to study in
USA.
- Since the F-1 visa program is a temporary visa, you must have a relationship with your home country that indicates your intention to return to your home country after completing your studies in the United States. 
- You must be residing outside the United States at the time of application  

For many students, the process of applying to and enrolling in an American institution is the longest part. The visa process is a series of steps that you follow after accepting an offer of admission.