Student Visa F-1


Student Applicants for F-1 visa – Overview

Hundreds of thousands of people come to the United States from around the world to study and improve their skills. Numerous programs provide a wide variety of learning opportunities. Students interested in studying in the United States must be admitted to a U.S. school or university before starting the visa process.

If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study of less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do so on a visitor visa.  You should inquire at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If your course of study in the US is more than 18 hours a week, you will need a student visa, F-1. Please consult with immigration lawyer before spending time, money and effort. Out immigration attorneys outlined basic steps that are required to obtain a Student Visa but your personal situation may be different.

What is Needed to Apply for a Student Visa?

All applicants for a student visa must provide:

  • Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students. You will need to submit a SEVIS generated Form, I-20, which was provided to you by your school. You and your school official must sign the I-20 form.
  • A completed application, Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant, Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. Both forms must be completed and signed. Some applicants will also be required to complete and sign Form DS-157. A separate form is needed for children, even if they are included in a parent’s passport. Select Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156 to access the electronic version of the form DS-156.
  • An interview at the embassy consular section is required for almost all visa applicants. The waiting time  for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States.
  • One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in nonimmigrant photograph requirements;
  • A MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee, a visa issuance fee if applicable (Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Table) and a separate SEVIS I-901 fee receipt. While all F-visa applicants must pay the MRV fee, including dependents, only the F-1 principal applicants must pay the SEVIS fee.

All applicants should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;
  • scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.;
  • financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor own a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • Proof of the student’s relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.);
  • it is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

Additional Information

  • No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of non refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
  • Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

Entering the U.S. – Port of Entry

A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S.  Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. Student visitors must have their Form I-20 in their possession each time they enter the United States.  If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record  (Form I-94).

For more information about Student Visa please consult our Frequently Asked Questions

Please consult with an experienced Immigration Attorney to analyze your goals and situation and advise you on your eligibility to change and extend your nonimmigrant status.  To find how much it will cost you to Change Status to student visa, please see schedule of fees at List of Fees