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Student Visa (F1)

F1 Visa

Student Applicants (for F-1 and M-1 visas)

You need a student visa when you want to go for a course with more than 18 hours a week course of study.

If you want a student visa you need to appear for a personal interview. But as the rules and regulations of different embassies and consulate are quite different, you should ask your Embassy to find out about their procedure.

You need to plan ahead to apply for the student visa. Planning can save you lots of time and repeat visits to the embassy. Generally in June, July and August the applications numbers are more and the appointments are hard to get. So plan well ahead to find out the best time to get your visa quickly.

When to apply

Visa processing needs time. So apply well ahead to give some time to visa processing. Once you are prepared to apply for your visa, apply for it.

In some special cases special clearances are needed. The clearance depends on the course of study and the studentís nationality. It again will need some more time. So, in such cases you need to apply well ahead. For such requirements please visit Special Processing Requirements.

Consulates and embassies can issue the student visa to you 120 days or less in advance from the date of registration of your course. They will calculate the date from the registration or start date that you provide on your I-20 form.

If you are going for the first time to start your course of study, you need to enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance. The date considered here is the starting date or the date of registration. This advice is issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

If you are going to the U.S. as a beginning student, and want to go before 30 days of the starting of your course, then you need to get a visitor visa. When you intend to study in the U.S. then you need to obtain a change of classification. You need to file  Form I-539, form I-20 and Application for change of Nonimmigrant Status to the Department of Homeland Security. An additional fee of $140 is to be paid. Again you should wait to start your study till you get the change of classification approved.

If you are a continuing student, and you are maintaining your student status, then you can apply for a visa at any time. You also need to maintain current SEVIS records. A continuing student can enter the U.S. at any time.

What is Needed to Apply for a Student Visa?

If your age is between 14 to 79 years, hen you need to appear for an interview with the embassy. There is waiting time for the interview and so you should apply well ahead. If you are lesser than 13 years of age more than 79 years of age, then you generally do not need an interview, if not otherwise expressed by the embassy. After you submit your visa application and necessary documents, you need to wait for the visa interview. Different  U.S. Embassy or consulate have different visa waiting time for different case. You can find information about it at Visa Wait Times .

When you apply for a student visa, you need to provide

For Academic and Language Students, you need to provide Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-


For Vocational Students, you need to provide Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status

You should submit I-20 provided by your school which is generated by Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You need to register with SEVIS. Your school will do the part of entering the form I-20 into SEVIS.

You need to file a completed and signed application, Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant, Form DS-156, together with a Form DS-158. In some cases you may need to complete and sign Form DS-157. For the children, you need to file a separate application form. You can find it here Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-156.

During your visa interview, you need to provide a digital fingerprint scan and a digital photo.

You also need the following documents

You may need to provide

  • Your diploma and transcripts
  • Your scores of standard tests like TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT etc.
  • You also need financial evidence showing that you and your parents (sponsor) have enough money to cover the cost that includes living expenses and tuitions fees.
  • If you have a dependent and you are applying for student visa, then you need to provide
  • Proof of the relationship with the dependent

Your family should apply for the F-1 and F-2 visas when you apply for the student visa. If they intend to apply later, then in such case they should bring your passport and visa and other necessary documents.

How long can you stay on your F-1 student visa?

Generally the student visa permits you to stay for the duration of the course only. So if you are a full time student you can stay in the U.S. even after your F-1 visa expires. In some cases you may get some additional time if you have completed your course of study.

F-1 Student- You can get an additional 60 days. This time is offered to help you depart from the U.S. or to get a transfer to another institute.

M-1 student- You can get an extension of 30 days. This time is allowed to depart from the U.S.