Upon the approval of the U.S. Attorney General, international students wishing to pursue a degree at an approved United States University or College may receive an F-1 visa.
Recipients are allowed to reside within the United States for the duration of their studies for as long as it takes to complete their program and may continue to reside within the United States for up to 60 days after graduation.
Qualifying For An F-1 Visa
In order to qualify for an F-1 visa, the recipient must take a full course load of credits and remain enrolled as a full-time student at an approved U.S. based University or College. Additional qualifications include:
- Evidence of foreign residency and a plan of returning to their foreign country upon completion of their degree obtained in the United States
- Evidence of associations with their home country including a verified bank account, family-based in their home country and an employment offer upon completing their degree
- Evidence of the applicant’s intentions to entering the United States on a strict non-immigrant status
- Evidence of the applicant’s ability to complete the academic program
- Evidence of the applicant’s proficiency in English
- Evidence of substantial financial assets
The Application Process
Depending on the selected university, the requirements to apply for an F-1 visa will vary. Common requirements include the applicant’s ability to show the strength of their financial status to support themselves while completing their academic degree without needing to be employed while residing in the United States during their program. In addition, applicants may also be required to show they have sufficient health insurance to cover any medical expenses they may incur in the United States.
Upon satisfying the following qualifications and requirements, applicants must also complete and submit Form I-120 to apply for the F-1 visa.
Form I-120 includes information about the F-1 visa applicant’s housing options in the United States and details about their academic program. In most cases, the applicant’s choice of university or college will assist the applicant in completing and providing necessary documentation for Form I-120. Upon submission and approval, Form I-120 will become valid within a ten-day period.
Before submitting Form I-120, it is important to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure all requirements have been met and all documentation has been submitted. When completing and submitting the form, the following items are required:
- A non-refundable Form I-120 application fee
- Completed Form DS-160
- Completed Form DS-157 (For applicants who are men between the ages of 16 to 45)
- Valid passport which is valid for 6 months or more past the anticipated applicants graduation date
- Photo documentation
The Interview Process For An F-1 Visa
Once the submitted Form I-120 has been approved, the applicant will have an interview at their home country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate scheduled. The interviewer will request all of the initial documentation, including their passport and relevant financial documentation. In addition, the interview will question the applicant on their academic plans including their plans to support themselves financially and their plans once they complete their program after they return to their home country.
After a successful interview, the applicant will then receive the F-1 visa. Once the applicant receives the visa, they must move to the United States within 30 days of filing Form I-120.
Speak To An Experienced Immigration Attorney
Due to the volume and accuracy of documentation the F-1 visa requires, it is important for prospective applicants to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to ensure all forms and documentation have been submitted correctly. For more information or to start the F-1 visa application process, reach out to the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge, PLLC by calling 703.273.5500 or request a consultation online.