How Do You Get an F-1 Student Visa in the US?

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How Do You Get an F-1 Student Visa in the US?

All of your questions answered about coming to the US to study

If you have always dreamed of studying abroad and want to travel to the United States, then an F-1 visa is for you.  F-1 visas are issued to students who plan on attending a university, or college, high school, or private elementary school, seminary, or conservatory, language training program or, other academic institution in the US.

You must be enrolled in a program that will provide you with a degree, diploma, or certificate when the program is over.  The school must be allowed to accept international students. 

Who Qualifies for an F-1 Visa?

Applicants for student visas should apply at the US Embassy or Consulate nearest to them.  To qualify for an F-1 visa, applicants need to meet certain criteria.  

  • Established residence outside the US.  You must intend to return to your country of origin once you are done with your studies.  
  • You may only study at the school through which the visa was granted. 
  • You must be enrolled full time.
  • You must be able to speak excellent English. 
  • You must prove you will be able to support yourself financially while in the US.
  • You must prove you have strong ties to your home country.  Examples of this include, owning a home, or vehicle, having an established bank account, or family that lives there.  

How to Apply for an F-1 Visa?

The process to apply for an F-1 visa can vary depending on your country, embassy, or consulate.  You will need the following when applying. 

  • Pay the non-refundable application fee of US$160.
  • Complete and submit Form DS-160 online
  • Print the confirmation page and bring it with you to the interview. 
  • Schedule an interview at your local embassy or consulate. 

What Documentation do I Need?

Before your scheduled interview at the embassy or consulate, you’ll need to gather and prepare the following documents. 

  •  A passport.  Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your educational program ends. 
  • The printed confirmation page of Form DS-160.
  • A printed receipt that shows you paid the application fee. 
  • A photo.  You will be asked to upload a photo when you complete Form DS-160 online. If the photo fails to upload, you must bring one with you. 
  • Form I-20. Your school will send you this form once they enter your information into the database. 

A consular officer will interview you and decide if you qualify for a student visa. Additional documentation may be required, such as. 

  • Transcripts, diplomas, or degrees from schools you attended. 
  • Standardized test scores, required by your US school. 
  • Your intent to leave the US, once your studies are complete. 
  • Proof of how you will pay for all education, living, and travel costs. 

During your interview, the officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a student visa. You will answer questions and get your fingerprints taken.  

If you are approved, you can expect to get your F-1 visa in about 60 days.  After you travel to the US and are allowed to enter the country, you will receive Form I-94, it is your arrival and departure record.  It’s important to keep this document because you will need it again when it is time to return home.  

Students in the US with F-1 visas are required to return home within 60 days of their educational program ending. If you’d like to remain in the US you will need to apply for an extension.  You will also need to re-enroll in a higher education program, transfer to a different school, get a new I-20 form, or apply to change your visa status.  Regardless of what you decide to do, moving to the US and studying abroad is an exciting time.  You’re guaranteed to learn a lot and make lasting friendships.

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