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Applying for the F-1 Student Visa
This article explains how an international student can apply for an F-1 student visa to study in the U.S.

About the F-1 Student Visa

This article explains what the F-1 student visa is and what an international student must do in order to be eligible to apply.

By Annie Rose Stathes
Last Updated: May 14, 2012

About the-F-1-Student-Visa

In order to study in the United States, you will need to apply for a student visa. As a student and visitor to the United States it is imperative that you apply for the appropriate visa. Without the visa, you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. You will be expected to show your visa, along with other forms of documentation, at your port of entry.

The “F” series of visas are designed for non-immigrant students who wish to pursue their education in the United States. To be eligible for an F-series visa you must first be accepted into a “Student and Exchange Visitor Program” (SEVP) qualified school. Once you’ve been accepted into the school, you can apply for the appropriate F-series visa. To determinewhether or not your school is an SEVP-certified school, check with your college or university, or visit the U.S. Department of State’s student visas page.

Once you’ve been accepted into an SEVP qualified school, you will be entered by your school into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The SEVIS is a system that helps the U.S. government better monitor school and exchange programs in the United States. To be eligible to apply for an F-1 student visa, you must first be entered into the SEVIS.

Visit the U.S. Department of State’s student visas page for more information about the SEVIS.  

What is the F-1 Student Visa?

Full-timeacademic or language program students are required by the United States government to apply for an “F-1” student visa. The F-1 student visa is specifically designed for non-immigrant students who plan on attending an academic or language program on a full-time basis. The F-1 visa is not for part-time students, nor is it for people who plan on permanently immigrating to the United States.

If you plan on being a full-time student while you’re in the United States but do not wish to immigrate to the United States, you will need to apply for an F-1 visa. Applying for the F-1 visa is an important step in preparing for your adventure in the United States. The F-1 student visa allows you to legally attend full-time school in the United States.

Eligibility for the F-1 Visa

In order for you to be eligible for the F-1 visa, your educational program must meet the following qualifications:

  • It must be offered through an SEVP-certified school.
  • It must be an academic or language program.
  • It must be a course of study that is more than 18 hours per week.

Additionally, in order for you to be eligible to apply for the visa, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a residence in a country outside of the U.S. (in your home town) with no immediate plan to leave that residence.
  • You must plan on leaving the United States once you’ve completed your program.
  • You must have sufficient funds to cover the duration of your educational program.

The Odds and Ends of Having a Visa

  • Keep in mind that if you plan on bringing family members to the United States for the duration of your studies, you’ll need to secure additional types of visas. Visit the U.S. Department of State’s visas page for a list of the different visas available.
  • Remember, there is no guarantee that your visa will be issued. Be sure to secure your visa prior to booking flights, investing in housing in the United States or making other financial commitments.
  • Once you’re in the United States, you’ll want to keep your F-1 student visa in a safe place and take it with you when you travel or leave campus. Your student visa as an ID—one that U.S. officials can ask to see at any time. Also keep in mind that the U.S. government reserves the right to revoke visas. Following U.S. laws and ensuring that you carefully abide by immigrant obligations are important when studying in the U.S. as an international student.

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Annie Rose Stathes is a Colorado-based writer, teacher and political scientist. Her background is in international affairs and she holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science.


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