What is the US F-1 Student Visa
The US F-1 student visa is for students wishing to come to the United States temporarily and enroll in an academic institution. It includes all stages of education, from elementary school to university and graduate school, as well as additional degrees. If you are accepted into one of these institutions, you can apply for an F1 visa.
The F-1 student visa is one of the less complicated visas to acquire. Eligible applicants need to prove they are a good candidate for higher education in the United States, and that they have sufficient funds for their stay. Unlike other visas, an F-1’s parents do not need to be US citizens or permanent residents as this is only an educational visa.
Eligibility Criteria for an F-1 student visa
In order to be eligible for an F-1 student visa, the foreign national must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Get an admission offer from a Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) accepted institution
- Have a residence abroad that he or she has no intention of abandoning
- Be committed to full-time study in the US for the entire period authorized there (usually one academic year); and
- Demonstrate enough financial resources to cover their living expenses. They will also need evidence of sufficient funds to pay their return fare if they withdraw from school.
- Be able to communicate well in English.
Application Process for a US F-1 Student Visa
The application process for a US F-1 Student Visa is quite simple and straightforward. The foreign national should:
- Get your admissions documents from the SEVP institution.
- Complete an I-20 form (Form IAP 100)
- Fill out the DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application form
- Pay the application fee
- Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee
- Schedule an appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country to submit all of this documentation and be interviewed by a consular officer.
Documents needed to apply for an F-1 Visa
The following are the documents to submit when applying for a US F-1 Visa:
- Your valid passport
- Form DS-160 for non-immigrant visa applications
- Two photographs meeting the US Visa Photo Requirements
- Proof of paid F1 visa fee
- Proof of purchased health insurance for international students.
- Form I-20: Your Form I-20 states the amount of funds you need to finance your education and living in the US. You must submit documents that prove you have that amount readily available. This can be done by submitting various documents, such as:
- Bank statements for the last 3 years
- Tax records for the last 3 years
- Pay stubs of previous employment
- If you have received a scholarship, you also need to submit proof of it
- Paying a semester’s or a year’s worth of tuition is also a good idea, but not mandatory
- If you are supported or sponsored by someone else in the US, you will need to submit Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and bank statements for the last three years of that person.
- If you are funding your US education through a loan, you must also show proof of the approved loan
Documents that prove your previous education and current qualifications:
- Original transcripts
- Standardized test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, etc.)
- Acceptance letters from the educational institution which accepted you
- Previous degree diplomas
Time Frame and the Cost of applying for an F-1 student visa
After the interview, you will receive a response on this visa. The interviewer may congratulate you on receiving the visa or offer you a paper stating the reason for denial at the conclusion of the interview. This is because the processing of this sort of visa takes place prior to your interview. The interview is the final step in the US Embassy’s decision on whether or not to grant the visa.
For the I-20 form: $350
For the DS-160: $160
Benefits and Limitations of having an F-1 student visa
- There are no visa number limitations on the F-1 visa, so an unlimited amount of students can enter the United States at any given time.
- You have the opportunity to enter the U.S. as a full-time student to earn a world-class education.
- You have the flexibility to travel in and out of the United States over the course of your studies. You can also stay in the U.S. for the entire time if you wish.
- Employment: On-campus part-time employment is permitted. If circumstances change after you enroll and you need to work off-campus, you can do so.
- Family or Dependents: You are permitted to bring your dependents (spouse and unmarried children under the age of21) to the United States to live with you on F-2 visa status.
- If you would like to work off-campus, you need permission from the USCIS
- You must leave the U.S. fairly soon after finishing your studies
- Your F-2 dependents are not eligible for employment
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The US F-1 Student Visa provides the opportunity for international students to study at an accredited academic institution in the United States. If you are considering studying abroad, be sure to review all of your options before making a final decision on which visa is best for you and your family.
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