What is an F1 student?
In the United States an F1 visa is issued to international students who will be attending an academic program or English Language Program at a US college or university. The requirements to obtain an F1 visa are:
- You plan to enroll at an academic institution or a language-training program;
- You must plan to enroll as a full-time student;
- The school must be approved by SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) to accept foreign students;
- You must show sufficient financial support to complete the study;
- You must prove that you do not intend to abandon your foreign residency.
When you are accepted into a SEVP certified school, the International School Advisor will issue you a Form I-20. A student must have this form to apply for a visa.
- Read and confirm that all your information on your Form I-20 is accurate. If so be sure to sign and date your Form I-20 on Page 1.
- Pay your I-901 SEVIS Fee: Use Form I-20 to pay the $200 SEVIS Fee by going to the website FMJFee.com. Be sure to print your receipt after completing the payment for proof when obtaining your visa.
- Applying for your F-1 visa at your U.S. embassy or consulate: You can apply up to 120 days before the Program Start Date listed on your Form I-20.
How to Prepare for Your Visa Appointment
Have you received acceptance by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school where you want to enroll? Have you also received a Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," from a designated school official (DSO) at that school and paid your I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee? When you have done all of these things, you need to apply for a student visa next.
The Department of State issues visas at U.S. embassies and consulates. A visa allows you to travel to the United States for a specific purpose. To identify the U.S. embassy or consulate that is most convenient for you to visit, go to the website of the embassy or consulate and follow the instructions on the site to do the following:
You should make your appointment for your visa interview as soon as possible after receiving your Form I-20 and paying the I-901 SEVIS fee. but no earlier than 120 days before your Program Start Date. When you come for your appointment, a consular official will electronically scan your fingerprints. You must bring the following documentation to the interview:
- Form I-20 issued by a DSO at the school where you wish to enroll
- Printed Form DS-160, "Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application," confirmation page
- Passport valid for at least six months after you plan to enter the United States
- Two-inch by two-inch photo of yourself
- Receipt for your DS 160 visa application fee payment
- Receipt for your I-901 SEVIS fee payment
The visa interview is your opportunity to tell the consular officer about your plans while in the United States and what you will do when you have completed your studies. You should be prepared to show the following:
- You have received acceptance to an SEVP-certified school. Your Form I-20 verifies your acceptance.
- You have the financial ability to pay for school costs plus living expenses (the amount shown on Form I-20). You may want to bring copies of financial documents you provided to the school where you want to enroll. These documents are evidence of the preparations you have made to finance your stay (e.g., bank statements). If the U.S. embassy or consulate in your area does not require you to bring financial documentation be prepared to talk in depth about the sources of your funding.
- You are prepared for the academic program in which you plan to enroll. You may want to bring copies of any standardized test scores, academic transcripts, diplomas or certificates from previous study you provided as part of your application to the school where you want to enroll.
- Your stay in the United States is temporary (i.e., you are not permanently immigrating).
- The interviewing official will be interested in how you intend to use the education you receive in the United States when you return home.
Words of caution:
- Proofread all of your travel-related documents (i.e., Form I-20, Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt and visa) to ensure they are correct. Especially make sure your name and birth date are written exactly the same way on all of your documents. If you find an error in a document, have it corrected by the people who completed the document before you apply for the next document in the process.
- Proofread your visa when the consular official returns your passport to you – mistakes in the visa information cannot be corrected once you travel. If you find a mistake in your biographical data or your visa type, contact the embassy or consulate to ask officials to correct the error.
- Be skeptical of anyone who claims the ability either to provide a document that you need or to get you a visa other than as this guidance suggests. If you are deliberate and prepare carefully for each of these steps in obtaining travel authorization and F nonimmigrant student status, you can succeed by yourself!
For more information on submitting a student visa application, visit Travel.State.Gov, the official Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Information taken from Study in the States.
After Arriving in the U.S.
- Ensure you have your Form I-20 with you when you enter the U.S. You will present it to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry.
- You need to report to the Office of International Admissions and Services on or before the start date of the I-20. Our address is: 1214 N. Cory, Findlay, OH 45840. Our phone number is: 419-434-4558. If you arrive after office hours (Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), please visit the UF Security Office at 201 Frazer St., Findlay, OH 45840.
- If you have made arrangements to stay in university housing, you will be taken to your residence hall.
- If you have made reservations to stay temporarily in our Welcome Houses you will be taken there. At that time you will have the opportunity to buy a bedding package (these may include a pillow, blanket, towels and other items depending on the package). You will have 10 days to stay in the Welcome House to decide if you wish to live on or off campus. See the included Welcome House brochure for more information. There is a list of houses/apartments to rent at our office.
- You will be participating in Orientation. This will give you a chance to meet new students, learn more about the University of Findlay and your program, register for classes and more! We look forward to meeting you!
What is the role of the student while in the US?
These terms and conditions are outlined on page 3 of the I-20. Some highlights to keep in mind are:
- Arrival: Enter the U.S. no more than 30 days before your program of study begins. This is the "Program Start Date" on page 1 of your I-20. Please arrive at your new school no later than the Program Start Date.
- Education: Attend and pass all your classes. You must take a full course of study each term. If you can not complete your studies by the Program End Date on your I-20, speak to your International Student Advisor.
- Work: Work only when given proper authorization to work by the International Admissions and Services office. All F1 students can begin employment on-campus their first day of school but off-campus employment can only begin after being a full time student for at least 9 months or one academic year in their academic program of study with prior authorization.
- Permission: Always get permission from your International Student Advisor to change your program, transfer, take a break in studies, or travel outside the United States.