The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
The first step is to apply to a SEVP-approved school in the United States. After the SEVP-approved school accepts your enrollment, you will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
PROCEDURE TO APPLY:
The SEVP-approved school will issue you a Form I-20. After you receive the Form I-20 and register in SEVIS, you may apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a student (F) visa. You must present the Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the embassy or consulate website.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED ARE:
- Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
- Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20: Your school will send you a Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20. All students must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). Your spouse and/or minor children, if they intend live in the United States with you, will each receive an individual Form I-20.
A consular officer will interview you to determine your qualifications for a student visa, and may request additional documents, such as evidence of:
- Your academic preparation, such as: Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and Standardized test scores required by your U.S. school;
- Your intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
- How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.
PROCEDURES FOR YOUR DEPENDENTS:
Your spouse and unmarried, minor children who intend to reside with you during your study may apply for F-2 visas. If your spouse and/or children intend to live with you in the United States while you study, they must also enroll in SEVIS, obtain individual Form I-20s from the SEVP-approved school, and apply for a visa. Although SEVIS fee payment is not required, your school must issue them an individual Form I-20, which is required to apply for their visas. You must provide a copy of your F-1 visa and provide proof of relationship.
Make sure that your designated school official (DSO) knows that you would like to bring your dependents with you. When you inform the DSO that your dependents will be accompanying you to the United States, the DSO will then issue a Form I-20 for each of your dependents to enter with an F-2 visa.
Important things to note about F-2 dependents:
- F-2 dependents are in legal immigration status as long as you maintain status, throughout your program of study and any authorized period of OPT after completion.
- May depart and re-enter the United States with proper documentation.
- May not work.
- Are not eligible for Social Security numbers.
- Children in F-2 status may attend school full time from elementary through 12th grade
- F-2 dependents can engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study.
- Should obtain an updated Form I-20 from the DSO if any information about you changes.
- May file for a change of status (via Form I-539, “Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status”) to F-1 if the adult dependent wants to study full-time.