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What is F-1 visa? What are the F-1 visa requirements?

By August 21, 2020March 24th, 2021Questions & Answers
Photo courtesy of Evonne on Flickr, labeled for reuse:

F-1 visa is a great visa for students who want to come to the U.S. and attend university, college, high school, elementary school, or other academic institutions. Please note that this blog post will focus on students applying for an F-1 visa to study at a U.S. College/University.

You will need to meet the following requirements when applying for an F-1 visa

  • You will have to have a Form I-20 issued by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school

The I-20 form serves as evidence that you were accepted to a particular College/University. The Designated School Official (DSO) of the school should send you the I-20 and you will have to bring the I-20 to your visa interview. You will also have to show the I-20 to a CBP officer every time you will be entering the U.S. on an F-1 visa.

  • You will have to show that you have sufficient funds (in the amount that is indicated on the I-20 form)

To meet this criterion you can bring, for example, your bank statements or evidence of student loans. Please note that you do not have to have funds available to cover the whole program of undergraduate studies but you will have to demonstrate that you can pay for all necessary expenses for at least the first year of studying.

  • You have a residence in a foreign country that you have no intent to abandon & you plant to leave at the conclusion of your studies

Because the F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, you will have to demonstrate that you have a non-immigrant intent. To prove this requirement, you can bring, for example, a lease agreement, evidence that you own a property/business in your home country, evidence that you have strong family, cultural, or business connections to your home country, etc. You can learn more about this requirement when you click here.

  • You will be pursuing a full course of study that will lead to attainment of a specific educational or professional objective at the school specified on your visa

Please note that immigration regulations define what is a full course of study for different programs. You should make sure that your program complies with this requirement and speak with your Designated School Official (DSO).

You will also need to pay a SEVIS fee when applying for an F-1 visa.

Can my spouse and children come to the U.S. if I get the F-1 visa?

Yes. Your spouse and children can apply for an F-2 visa (either at the same interview with you or at a later time). Please note that your school will have to issue a separate I-20 for your spouse and/or children.

Can my spouse and children work and study in the U.S. on F-2 visa?

Please note that neither your spouse nor your children can work in the U.S. on F-2 status. Your children can enroll in any in any elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).

Please note that there are limitations as to whether your spouse and children can study in the U.S. on the F-2 status beyond the secondary level.

What is duration of status?

If you are in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, you will be admitted to the U.S. for “duration of status.” When entering the U.S., the CBP officer will stamp your passport and in the “admitted until” section of the stamp it will indicate “D/S”. If you are in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, you may stay as long as you comply with all the terms and conditions of your status (in other words, for as long as you maintain your non-immigrant F-1 status).Please see more about this topic when you click here.

Can I work in the U.S. while I am here on the F-1 visa?

Please see our blog post on the different options you have when studying in the U.S. when you click here. You can either work on-campus or off-campus (if the employment is an integral part of the student’s educational program) or you can also apply for a Curricular Practical Training program.

After you finish your program, you may also apply for an OPT or STEM OPT.

Please click here to find out what is the maximum time you can be unemployed if you are in the U.S. on OPT.

What are my options once I graduate the College/University?

Once you graduate College/University, you will qualify for an OPT. Post completion OPT allows you to work in the U.S. for one year after your graduation. Please see more details on how to apply for an OPT when you click here. You may then qualify for an H-1B visa. Please see more information about H-1B visa when you click here.

Please click here  to find out what is SEVIS.

Please click here to find out whether you can have an unpaid internship while in the U.S. on OPT status.

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