• USA

F-1 visa for international students: Eligibility, Application, Requirements and Process

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  • read time3 min Read
  • By:CANAM Group
  • Updated On:Feb 03,2024 05:47 PM IST

A growing trend among Indian students is choosing the US for higher studies, highlighting the importance of understanding the student visa application process. Read this blog for a detailed overview of the F-1 visa for international students and understand all the necessary requirements like application process, eligibility, fees, and more on securing the F-1 student visa.

F1 visa for international students.webp
India in 2023 recorded a 35% hike in the number of Indian students moving to the US for higher education, making US the first choice for Indian students to pursue higher studies for three consecutive years. Renowned for its expansive academic offerings and cutting-edge research facilities, the United States welcomes talented minds from across the globe.
 
While everybody wants to live the American dream, getting there needs a lot of preparation and planning. The first step and arguably the most significant is securing a student visa. International students planning to study in the US need the F-1 visa. This is the most common student visa for academic studies in the US required for full-time enrolment in accredited academic programs at universities and colleges. 

What is the F-1 visa? 

The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant student visa for international students who want to pursue academic studies in the United States. The visa allows international students to enter the country and live in the U.S for the duration of their academic program at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified educational institution. 

The students can only apply for the F-1 visa if they are planning to enrol in a full-time course of study at a SEVP certified educational institution in the United States.

What is the duration of the F-1 visa? 

The duration of the F-1 visa, which is generally up to 5 years, depends on the specific program chosen by the students and the information listed on their I-20 form issued by the accepted educational institution. 

The I-20 form specifies the expected duration of the student’s program, including any authorized periods of absence. The students can live and study in the US as long as they maintain their student status and remain within the study dates listed on their I-20 form. 

Students can usually apply to extend their F-1 visa status if they need to continue their studies beyond the initial period mentioned on the I-20 form. Certain F-1 visa holders, like those pursuing a STEM courses in the USA, are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation, which allows them to work in the US for one to two years, extending the student’s stay beyond the duration of their academic program. 

If the student does not plan on extending or opting for any work/training then the student is required to leave the country within 60 days after their program completion. 

What are the F-1 visa requirements? 

The F-1 visa offers many benefits for international students like the opportunity to study at some of the world's leading universities and colleges. But there are certain requirements for getting a student visa for USA

F1 visa requirements.webp


Valid PassportThis serves as the official travel document and identification. The passport should be valid for at least 6 months after the intended date of graduation for it to be accepted.
I-20 FormThe I-20 form verifies the student’s acceptance into a valid academic program and is issued by the SEVP-certified educational institution that the student is accepted in.
Proof of Financial Support
Students must demonstrate sufficient financial resources to cover their tuition, living expenses, and incidental costs throughout their entire study period.

This can include bank statements, scholarships, sponsorships, or other financial documents.
English Language ProficiencyStudents need to demonstrate their English language proficiency through standardized tests like TOEFL or IELTS
Visa Application (DS-160)This online form collects the personal information, travel history, and details about the student’s intended plan for their study.
Visa Interview
Once the visa application is processed, students are invited for a visa interview at a US consulate or embassy. 

Students need to be prepared to answer questions about their study plans, financial situation, and more.
Other RequirementsSimilar to how Depending on the student’s specific program or field of study, they may need to submit additional documents, such as standardized test scores, research proposals, or letters of recommendation.

Some F-1 visa applicants may also be required to attend a medical examination.

How to apply for the F-1 Visa?

The student must be enrolled in a full-time academic program at an educational institution recognized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to be able to apply for the F-1 visa. After successfully confirming the acceptance and receiving the I-20 form the students can follow the following steps to apply for the F-1 visa. 

Complete the DS-160 online visa application

Below are the steps that help students complete the DS-160 online visa application:

• This is an online application form that determines an applicant's eligibility for a non-immigrant visa.
• Carefully answer all questions on the DS-160 form, including personal information, travel history, and details about intended studies. 
• Students need to pay a non-refundable online fee of around $160-$185 to fill and submit the DS-160 online visa application, this fee covers the DS-160 application and visa interview charges. 

Schedule the visa interview 

Below are the steps that can help a student schedule the visa interview:

• After completing the DS-160 application the next step is to schedule the visa interview. The visa interview is held to verify the student’s authenticity and intentions of studying in the US.  
• The interview is held at a US consulate or embassy by a visa officer. Students need to schedule an interview at the nearest US consulate or embassy as per their convenience. 
• Students are advised to book their appointment well in advance as the slots can fill up quickly. 

Attend the visa interview:

Below are the steps how one can attend the visa interview:

• Prepare for the interview by practicing the answers to common questions like, financial situation, study abroad plans and intentions. 
• The visa officer asks questions to confirm the authenticity of the student moving abroad and how well are they prepared both financially and language wise to live in the US. 
• Dress professionally on the day of the interview and arrive on time with all necessary documents including: 
• Valid passport
• I-20 form
• Proof of financial support
• English language proficiency scores (if applicable)
• A print of the DS-160 application confirmation page

Pay the SEVIS fee

Below are the steps associated with paying the SEVIS fee:

• After the successful completion of the interview the students receive their visa approval notification. 
 The visa approval can take days or even month, the students are advised to schedule and prepare for their visa application well in advance. 
• Once the student clears their visa interview they need to pay the SEVIS fee which costs approximately $350 to get their F-1 student visa status

Upon completion of the SEVIS fees payment, the student is now prepared to start their studies in the United States. 

Conclusion


Remember, thorough preparation, strong documentation, and a clear explanation of academic goals during the visa interview can significantly increase the chances of getting the F-1 visa approved. Students can also connect with study abroad experts at Canam to better understand the US student visa application and get valuable insights on leading universities and their application process around the US. 

FAQ

Yes, F-1 visas do get rejected, the reason for rejection can vary depending on various factors like the student’s financial conditions, program of study, current visa processing trends or other unforeseen reasons. 
While receiving a scholarship doesn't guarantee an F-1 visa approval, it can increase the chances of approval in several ways. Scholarship offers from a prestigious US institutions provide a sense financial stability and credibility increasing chances of approval. 
There is no official limit on how many times one can apply for the F-1 visa. However, it is important to approach multiple applications strategically and thoughtfully to avoid wasting time and money.
Bring all required documents and be confident and clear during the visa interview. Applicants can significantly increase their chances of getting an F-1 visa by strategically preparing for the visa application and presenting a strong and convincing case.
Yes, students can obtain an F-1 visa without taking a loan, but applicants need to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to cover their stay in the US during their program duration to get their F-1 visa approved. 

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