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 intensive 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.
Steps to Obtaining Your Student Visa
- When you are accepted into a SEVP certified school, the Designated School Official (DSO) will issue you a Form I-20. To receive the Form I-20, you will need to provide bank statements or financial guarantees demonstrating the ability to pay your tuition, fees, and room and board. This form is required to apply for a visa.
- Read and confirm that all information on your Form I-20 is accurate. If so, sign and date your Form I-20 on the bottom of page 1.
- Pay your I-901 SEVIS Fee. Use the SEVIS ID# on the top corner of your Form I-20 to pay the SEVIS Fee by going to the website FMJFee.com. Print your payment receipt as you will need it when interviewing for your visa.
- Apply for your F-1 student 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. 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.
How to Prepare for Your Visa Appointment
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:
When you arrive at your visa interview appointment, a consular officer will electronically scan your fingerprints. You are required to bring the following documentation to the interview:
- Form I-20 issued by a Designated School Official (DSO) at the University of Findlay
- Passport valid for at least six months after you plan to enter the United States
- Two-inch by two-inch passport-style photo of yourself
- Printed Form DS-160 "Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application" confirmation page
- 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. We strongly recommend that you bring supporting documents to your visa interview. You should be prepared to show the following:
- 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 (you are not permanently immigrating). You will need to demonstrate that you have significant ties to your home country, such as a job offer, family staying behind, a family business, ownership of land/property, and so forth.
- The interviewing official will be interested in how you intend to use the education you receive in the United States when you return home. Have clear goals that you can communicate.
For more information on submitting a student visa application, visit Travel.State.Gov, the official Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Requirements of a Student on an F-1 Visa
Carefully review the terms and conditions outlined on page 3 of the Form I-20. If you have any questions, your Designated School Official will be happy to discuss the regulations and help you understand them. 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 Form 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 Form 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. If you have questions, you can always contact the Office of International Admissions & Student Immigration Services at [email protected].