USA F1 Visa: Eligibility and Application Process

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

USA F1 visa: eligibility and application process

The USA has always been the first choice of anyone who wishes to migrate to a foreign land for education, employment, or permanent resident status. In recent times, thousands of students have chosen the United States as their dream study destination owing to the top-rated educational institutions with advanced cocurricular high-class infrastructure, especially in the STEM field. The advanced teaching methodologies and innovative research opportunities, along with the booming job market in a first-world country, have attracted masses of students from all across the globe to the US.

Studies show that almost 2 lakh Indian students were enrolled in several courses in the US in the last academic year, and it’s predicted that the number of Indian students will grow even more in the coming academic years.

However, getting admitted to an American university won’t necessarily allow an aspirant to enter or stay in the country. In order to enter the country, one must have an American visa issued under US immigration law in accordance with their purpose of visit and other factors, namely under the vast category of non-immigrant visas.

USA student visas

The US government issues four major types of visas to students according to their study programee, the type of institution they are enrolled in, and the purpose of their visit. They are;

  • Student Visa F or F1: Issued for students who are enrolled in an American educational institute ranging from elementary school to university.
  • Student Visa M or M1: For students who are enrolled in vocational courses in American educational institutes.
  • Exchange visitor visa J: For participants in an approved exchange programee.
  • Visitor Visa B: For visiting institutions before applying or for participating in short recreational, non-credit courses.

While the Exchange Visitor Visa and Visitor Visa B are issued for students who come to the US for a short period of time, the F1 and M1 visas are issued for students who plan to stay in the US for the entire duration of their study programme.

F1 and M1 visas 

The F1 visa allows an international student to temporarily live in the US while attending an accredited study programme at an American educational institution. The institution must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the Student Exchange and Visitor Programme (SEVP). It allows the holders to enter the US 30 days before the scheduled commencement date of their study programme. The F1 visa also allows the holders to bring their dependents to the US under a separate F2 visa. Under US immigration laws, spouses and unmarried minor children are considered the dependents of F1 visa holders.

The M1 visa is similar to that of the F1 visa, and it is issued to international students who intend to get trained or study in a vocational school or attend a study programme other than language courses in the US.

The types of institutions that make a candidate eligible for F1 and M1 visas are mentioned below

Educational institutions  Visa category
University or college F1 
High school
Private elementary school
Another academic institution, including language programmes
Vocational or other recognised institution, except language programmes.     M1 


Eligibility for the F1 Visa

  1. You must have applied for a study programme and been accepted into a SEVP (The student exchange visitor programme)– approved institution in the US for a certain period of time.
  2. You must be enrolled as a full-time student in an American educational institution for an academic course or a language programme.
  3. You must be proficient in English or should be accepted into a study programme leading to English proficiency. You can submit the results of English proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, etc.
  4. You must have proof of sufficient funds to support your study and living expenses in the US during your stay.
  5. Documents proving that you have strong ties to your home country and showing your intention to return after the completion of your studies. Since an F1 visa is a temporary visa, you are not allowed to stay in the US after the completion of your course.
  6. You must be living outside of the US when you’re applying for the visa.

Employment opportunities with the F1 visa

Students who have F1 visas are able to work 20 hours a week within their respective educational institutions. But students are not allowed to work outside the campus in the first academic year; however, from the second year onwards, they can work off campus in three types of employment:

  1. Curricular practical training: It allows the students to work or intern if training or an internship are mandatory in their course curriculum. Students can start working after nine months of enrolling in their study programme. 
  2. Optional practical training: It allows students to work temporarily, up to 12 months, in a job related to their field of study after completing their course.
  3. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics OPT: It allows students to work temporarily up to 24 months after the completion of their course until they find new employment in the US. Once you land a permanent job in the US, your employer can help you obtain a H1-B visa.

However, F2 visa holders cannot work in the US during their stay.

Benefits of the F1 visa

While studying in the US, you may be able to enjoy some of the benefits. But you need to apply to the respective departments accordingly to avail these benefits.

  • Driving in the US
  • Working in the US
  • Training opportunities in the US
  • Obtaining a social security number 

Extending your stay

F1 visa holders must leave the country once their course of study is completed. They will get a grace period of 60 days. However, if you want to extend your stay, you have to file a request with USCIS at least 45 days before your visa expires. You’re eligible to extend your stay,

  • If you were lawfully admitted to the US with a non-immigrant visa,
  • If your non-immigrant visa status is still valid,
  • If you haven’t committed any crimes, that makes you ineligible for a visa.
  • If you haven’t violated the terms of your admission,
  • If your passport is valid and will be valid during your stay,

Changing the visa status

If you get an employment offer or get married to a US citizen, you can change your visa status by filing an application at the USCIS.

Required documents for F1 visa application

In order to apply for an F1 visa, you need to submit the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Photos taken within the last six months with a white background (22mm X 35mm)
  • Non-Immigrant Visa Application Form DS-160
  • Proof of payment for the visa application
  • Duly filled Form I-20. Your educational institution will send the Form I-20 once they have entered your details into the SEVIS database (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). Form I-20 acts as a certificate of eligibility for the nonimmigrant student status, so please save it until the entire duration of your study in the US. 
  • Transcripts and marksheets of your high school or graduate course
  • Standardized test scores such as the GRE, GMAT, and SAT
  • Results of English proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE
  • Acceptance letter from the American educational institution where you got enrolled
  • Proof of health insurance for international students. 

 Form I-20 

You will receive Form I-20 as soon as your educational institution enters your details into the SEVIS database. If you are planning to bring a dependent with you on an F2 visa, they’ll also need to obtain an I-20 form. You need to provide your financial credentials in the form I-20 to prove that you can financially support your stay in the US during your study. You can submit any of the following documents as proof:

  • Bank statements for the last 3 years
  • Tax slips for the last 3 years
  • Payslips from your previous job
  • If you have received a scholarship, provide details about it.
  • If you are being sponsored or supported by someone in the US, you have to submit Form I-130, Affidavit of Support, along with your sponsor’s bank statements for the last three years.
  • If your study is supported by an educational loan, you need to provide proof of the approved loan.

Application procedure

You can apply for an F1 visa once you get the acceptance letter from your preferred educational institution. It might take 15 days to 2 months for the visa to be processed according to your native country, so it’s better to start applying as early as possible. 

  • Collect admission documents from the SEVP institute where you got enrolled in a study programme, including Form I-20.
  • Pay the SEVIS Form I-901 fee of $350. It’s the fee you pay for the services provided by the SEVIS database. You can pay the SEVIS fee at to obtain the SEVIS I-901 form. 
  • Apply for the F1 visa at the US embassy or consulate website in your country by filling out Form DS-160. Take a print of the applied DS-160 form and bring it to the interview. 
  • Pay the application fee of $160. 
  • Go to the US embassy or consulate website in your country and schedule two appointments.

-First appointment at the Visa application Centre (VAC) for collecting your biometric details, like fingerprints and a photo. 

-second appointment at the embassy or consulate for your F1 visa interview.

  • Attend the consular visa interview with the required documents, such as a valid passport, confirmation of the DS-160 application, an appointment confirmation page, and one photograph, according to the US visa requirements.  
  • You’ll get notified by email or SMS when your visa is approved and ready to pick up. You can collect it from the preferred location.

F1 visa application fee 

Visa application fee: $160 ($185 effective from May 30, 2023)

SEVIS fee: $350

F1 visa interview

Applicants below 14 years and 80 years of age are exempted from the interview. However, the visa interview is mandatory for the rest of the F1 visa applicants.  The interviewer will validate your intentions and reasons for choosing the US as your study destination. Most of the time, the interview questions will be regarding your study plans, choice of university and courses, academic capabilities, financial status, and post-graduation plans.

If the interviewer is convinced by your answers, the visa officer will right away inform you whether you got the visa or not.

F1 visa validity 

The validity of your F1 visa is as long as the time stated on the I-20 form. If your F1 visa has expired but your course is still continuing, you can apply to renew it. However, you have to renew it from your home country or some other country outside the US.

F1 visa rejection

In case your visa gets rejected, the visa officer will provide details regarding the rejection’s reason and under which section it has been denied soon after the visa interview. Those who are found ineligible for the F1 visa can reapply. However, if your visa is rejected under Section 221(g) which demands more adequate and valid reasons for the candidate to support their application, you need to reapply for the visa along with paying the entire visa fee once again.

For more details contact us at 9100444920, Mail us:

To know the complete process of USA Admission Proces click here: Study in USA

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!


Leave A Reply