Higher education in the United States is world-renowned. Studying in the United States gives a diverse cultural and social experience and a comprehensive, well-rounded education that is difficult to get abroad.
The United States provides a comprehensive higher education program that prepares students for life beyond college, allowing them to choose whether to stay in the United States or return to their home country after graduation. Harvard, Yale, and Stanford are among the most prominent colleges in the United States.
To study in the United States, you will require F1 visas. In this article, we will learn more about what is F1 visa and how to acquire one.
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What exactly is an F1 visa?
The F1 visa is a student visa granted to overseas students who wish to study in the United States.
It includes levels ranging from elementary school to university and graduate school, as well as additional degrees. If you accept by one of these universities, you must apply for an F1 visa.
Benefits of F1 visa
Unlike the H1-B Visa, there is no limitation on the F1 Visa; hence, all students who have successfully applied and meet the essential criteria can obtain this visa.
Students may also transfer to another school if they accept at a preeminent institution.
Students on an F1 visa can not only lawfully live and study in the United States, but they may also perform a variety of other activities while there, like opening a bank account, obtaining a driver’s license, and traveling in and out of the United States at any time without limit.
They are also permitted to work under specific guidelines and constraints.
To obtain an F1 visa, you must fulfill specific criteria, such as:
Receive an admission offer from a SEVP-approved university.
The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) maintains schools, colleges, and other educational institutions that satisfy the requirements and welcome overseas students.
To apply for an F1 visa, a student must first apply to a school and accept an admission offer from a SEVP.
Before applying to your desired colleges or colleges, it advises that you first check the SEVP to verify if such institutions are listed there. If yes, you can provide them whatever documentation they need to make an admission decision.
If you do not fulfill the requirements, you should not apply since you will not grant a student visa even if you accept into the institution.
Have a solid linkage to your own country.
It will be more challenging to obtain an F1 visa if you do not demonstrate and provide documentation showing you have strong links to your native country and want to return home when your study program concludes.
Validate your financial eligibility.
You must show that you have sufficient money in your bank accounts to meet the costs of studying and living expenses in the United States. It does not rule out the possibility of F1 pupils receiving scholarships. Indeed, you advise applying for scholarship programs and organizations to reduce your financial load.
It would be best if you illustrated that you could speak and comprehend English at a level sufficient to participate in an academic program.
Students can demonstrate their language skills by completing standardized English proficiency examinations like the TOEFL or IELTS.
F1 Visa Requirements
The following documents are necessary to apply for an F1 Visa:
- A valid passport
- Form DS-160 to apply for non-immigrant visas.
- Two passport-sized images.
- Proof of payment of the F1 visa fees.
- Form I-20:
- Your Form I-20 specifies the amount of money you’ll need to pay for your schooling and living expenses in the United States. Documents are proving that you have that amount on hand.
It can be accomplished by presenting a variety of documents, such as:
- Bank statements over the previous three years
- Tax returns over the last three years
- Pay stubs from past jobs
- If you have received a scholarship, you must additionally provide proof of receipt.
If you are supported or sponsored by someone in the United States, you must provide Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and bank statements for the previous three years for that individual.
If you are paying for your education in the United States using a loan, you must additionally provide documentation of the loan approval.
Documents proving your prior education and present qualifications:
- Transcripts from the sources
- Standardized test results (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, etc.)
- Letters of acceptance from the educational institution that accepted you
- Diplomas from previous degrees
- International students must provide proof of bought health insurance.
Application Procedure for F1 visa
Apply for an F1 visa; you must complete the following steps:
- Receive your enrollment documents from the SEVP institution.
- Submit an application using the DS-160 form.
- Pay the application fee.
- Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
- Arrange your F1 visa interview.
- Submit F1 visa required documents.
- Attend the student visa interview.
1.Receive your enrollment documents from the SEVP institution.
After you apply and accept to the institution of your choice, they must fulfill various formalities before you can apply for the F1 visa. Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, is the most important document you must have.
You will be unable to apply for an F1 student visa and attend your interview if you do not have this paperwork.
2. Submit an application using the DS-160 form.
After receiving your Form I-20, you can begin the regular application procedure. It involves completing the DS-160 form online and providing the required information regarding your visa status.
3. Pay the application fee.
The student visa application fee is $160. You must pay this amount and obtain a receipt, which you will require for your interview materials later. You may be required to pay additional costs depending on your place of origin and the US Embassy from where you are applying.
4. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
When a SEVP institution accepts you, your school immediately registers you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). There is a SEVIS I-901 charge for complete registration. This cost is $200 for the F1 visa.
5. Plan your F1 visa interview.
You must arrange your interview after submitting the DS-160 form and paying the expenses. The F1 Visa interview is a required step before receiving your student visa. Try to plan it as early as possible, as there may be delays owing to the US Embassy’s tremendous workload.
When you book it, you will send an interview appointment letter that you will require later in the application process.
6. Submit F1 visa required documents.
Before attending your interview, you must compile your file with the necessary documents for the US student visa.
7. Attend the student visa interview.
When you’re at the visa interview, the questioning will primarily focus on your reasons for visiting the United States and the institution you will be attending.
The interviewer will attempt to determine whether you want to return to your native country after finishing your degree.
When your visa is issued, it may be for the entire period you will be studying in the United States or for a portion of that period.
If your degree program lasts two years and you only have a one-year visa, you should petition to renew it later.
For renewing your visa, you must follow the same steps.
You may be eligible to avoid the interview because you have already had one, and you intend to continue your studies for the remaining years to obtain your degree.
If your visa is accepted, you may travel to the United States 30 days before starting your program. You are not permitted to enter the United States before that day.
F1 Visa Processing Time
In most circumstances, you will receive an answer on this visa soon following your interview. The interviewer may congratulate you on obtaining the visa or give you a document informing you of the reason for refusal at the end of the visa interview.
It is because the processing of this sort of visa occurs before your interview. The interview is the final stage for the US Embassy to determine whether or not to issue the visa.
However, there are certain circumstances when the answer and processing of the F1 visa takes a few days, so be patient if this occurs.
When to apply?
After being admitted to an institution of your choosing, you can apply for the visa 120 days before starting your program.
You cannot apply sooner; however, using later may delay due to processing times.
Make sure you submit your application as soon as the 120-day countdown begins.
What can you do with an F1 visa?
Access to American healthcare
As a student in the United States, you will have accessibility to the American healthcare system, yet the treatment price may be too high.
A broken leg or arm will cost you $2,500 in treatment, but a stay in a US hospital will cost you more than $10,000 on average.
It is not difficult to avoid these charges.
Purchasing enough health insurance may prove to be a wise investment because becoming ill or being involved in an accident in the United States is not something a student can afford.
It would be best to choose the most suitable F1 visa health insurance plan for you, which is also inexpensive and meets your demands.
Renewal of your visa
If your education program takes a year to complete, the Embassy will most likely issue you a one-year visa.
However, when a program is more extended, the Embassy may grant a valid visa for a shorter period.
In this instance, renewing the F1 visa is the best alternative.
It can be accomplished in two ways:
- By visiting the US Embassy for renewal;
- By selecting the option for Automatic Visa Revalidation;
Your F1 visa is valid for the duration specified on your I-20 form and I-94 form, which you will get when you enter the United States.
You have 60 days after your visa ends to prepare for your return to your native country.
If your visa does not cover the whole length of your stay in the United States, you will need to file for renewal or extensions.
Extensions only grant if you can verify that you will be completing your degree in the United States and intend to return as soon as it complete.
Even though you have demonstrated significant links to your native country, you can apply for a Green Card on an F1 visa.
It is, however, a complicated operation.
You must either self-petition as a person with exceptional ability, marry in the United States, or demonstrate that you will invest $500,000 in the US economy.
If none of these options work for you, but you still want to stay in the US, the simplest option is to convert your status to a new visa form, such as an H-1B visa, and have your employer sponsor you.
Change of visa status:
If you discover a job that needs a different type of visa, F1 visa holders can change their visa status.
In this case, you must follow the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) directions, your employer, or your sponsor/reviewer.
Working on F1 Visa
Since your visa is a student visa and not a work visa, you may work as an F1 student but only for brief periods.
You are permitted to work on-campus part-time during the academic year and full-time during the summer.
You have two possibilities if you wish to work outside of school.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
The OPT program intends for overseas students who want to gain work experience in the United States.
You can begin your OPT before or after graduation, but you can only work for a total of 12 months.
Your work must be relevant to your studies.
If you are studying in a STEM-related field, you can apply for a 24-month extension of your OPT.
If you and your Designated School Official (DSO) apply for an Employment Authorization Document, you can begin your OPT (EAD).
It accomplishes by submitting Form I-765.
If you succeed during your OPT, your company may agree to sponsor you for an H-1B visa, which allows you to apply for a Green Card.
Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)
It indicates that your educational institution needs you to work as part of your program. To graduate, you must complete the practical training.
This training or practical work must be related to your subject of study and authorized by your Designated School Official (DSO).
After nine months of enrolment in your degree program, you are eligible to begin your CPT.
There is no time restriction for the CPT; however, if it lasts more than 12 months, you will be unable to apply for post-graduate Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Dependents, such as spouses or unmarried children under 21, are also permitted to enter the United States.
It is possible with an F2 visa.
The F2 visa has no limits, and dependents must meet the requirements and complete the application procedures to obtain the visa.
To be eligible for an F-2 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be the spouse of an authorized F1 visa holder.
- Be the unmarried child of an accepted F1 visa holder under the age of 21.
- Have enough money to sustain your family throughout your stay in the United States.