The F1 student visa is by far the most common visa that international students use to study in the United States. In 2017, the State Department issued close to 400,000 F-1 visas for academic study in the U.S. Why are these non-immigrant visas so popular? The process of obtaining an F1 visa is relatively simple, and traveling to the U.S. for academic study is appealing. There are a large number of attractive vocational schools, colleges, and universities to choose from in the United States.
If the international student’s home country does not offer a particular program of study, the international student must travel to the United States to study in a specific area. The experienced Miami immigration attorneys at Canero Immigration have helped many foreign students secure an F-1 visa. Here are our answers to 10 commonly asked questions about F1 Visas.
How long does it take to secure an F-1 visa? When should I start the process?
The earlier you start planning for your visa, the better. The State Department will not issue your F-1 visa more than 120 days before the start of your academic program. In other words, even if you apply quite early for a visa, you will receive your visa no more than four months before the requested date. We recommend applying as soon as you can because there are often wait times for F-1 visa interviews at U.S. embassies and consulates.
How do I submit my F-1 visa application?
Every application process is unique. F-1 visa application requirements vary depending on the consulate or U.S. embassy to which you submit your application. Visit USEmbassy.Gov and select the country in which your embassy or consulate is located to see the specific requirements. The first step is to complete the State Department’s Nonimmigrant Visa Application. It is essential to bring a printed confirmation page to your visa interview. The Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form (DS-160) is available at the U.S. Department of State’s website. When submitting your application, you will need to include a photo. Please read through the photo requirements when you submit your application.
What do I need to do after I submit my application online?
Once your application is submitted successfully, you will need to schedule your in-person interview. The interview can take place at any U.S. consulate or embassy. We recommend trying to select an embassy in a country in which you have permanent residency.
What documents will I need to submit in the application process?
You will need to have the following documents with you for your in-person interview date.
- A passport that will remain valid for at least the first six months of your F-1 visa stay.
- Your Nonimmigrant Visa Application printed confirmation page.
- The payment receipt for your application fee.
- A printed photo of yourself only if your digital photo did not correctly upload to your application.
- A Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1 or M-1) Student Status, Form I-20 given to you by your school.
- It is wise to bring transcripts, diplomas, or certificates from the schools that you have already attended.
- A document stating that you intend to depart the U.S. after completing your course of study.
- A document stating how you plan to pay for all of the costs associated with your study.
What are the academic and school requirements when seeking an F-1 Visa?
You must attend a language-training program, a vocational program, or an accredited academic educational program. Additionally, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Student Exchange Visitors Program must accept your desired school or program.
To qualify for an F-1 visa, you will need to enroll in your chosen program as a student full-time. You need to be proficient in English or have a plan to reach a level of proficiency. You will need to demonstrate that you can live in a financially independent way during the study. Finally, you will not be able to release your acquired residence abroad.
What happens after I complete the in-person interview?
After you finish your in-person interview, your application will process for approximately 60 days. Once your visa is approved, you can check the estimated time until you can pick up your visa or it will be delivered.
Can I work while I study in the U.S?
F-1 visa participants cannot work in a job off-campus. They can hold a position on the school’s campus under specific requirements. After your first year as a student, you may work off-campus but only if the work is directly related to your area of study.
I am studying under an F-1 visa. If I leave the U.S. for travel, what do I need to get back into the U.S.?
If you are a returning F-1 visa student, you may return to the United States quickly. You will need to have your valid I-20 form and your SEVIS number. You will not need a new visa to re-enter the United States unless your visa has expired.
When should I travel to the U.S. after receiving my F-1 Visa?
You may travel to the U.S within 30 days of the start of your course of study. Use the date stated on your I-20 document to determine the window of time during which you can arrive in the U.S.
Can I immigrate to the U.S. after my F-1 visa expires?
It is possible to do so, but it is not an easy process. Going from a non-immigrant visa to an immigrant visa or green card is complicated. You would need to change your status to a different nonimmigrant visa that has a dual intent first. If you qualify for any of these visas, you or your employer will need to file an I-129 petition. After obtaining your dual intent visa, you can register for your green card application immediately.
Whether you are seeking an F-1 student non-immigration visa or are hoping to transition from a student visa to an immigrant visa, the experienced Miami, Florida immigration attorneys at Canero Immigration Law Firm can help. Contact us to set up a consultation today.