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F-1 Visa Fact Sheet

F-1 Visa Fact Sheet: Academic Students

The "F" Visa is reserved for nonimmigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs in the United States.

F-1 status is granted to a non-immigrant student who is qualified to pursue a “full course of study” to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the U.S. that has been designated by the DHS.  The individual’s entry to the U.S. is temporary and solely for the purpose of pursuing a course of study.  Once the student has attained his/her educational objective, the student is expected to return to his/her home country. [See: 8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)]

Academic Students Requirements

Foreign students seeking to study in the U.S. may enter in the F-1 category provided they meet the following criteria:

  • The student must be enrolled in an "academic" educational program or a language-training program;

  • The school must be approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS);

  • The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;

  • The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;

  • The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study; and

  • The student must maintain a residence abroad, which he/she has no intention of giving up.

Applying For A Student Visa

Applicants for student visas should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of permanent residence.


Required Documentation


(1)  An application Form DS-160, completed and signed. Blank forms are available online and without charge at all U.S. consular offices;


(2)  A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least 6 months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application;


(3)  Receipt for paid SEVIS Fee; and 


(4)  For the "F" applicant, a completed Form I-20.



What is SEVIS?

  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System

  • Computerized tracking system for foreign students and exchange visitors

  • Used for electronic reporting and sharing of information 

  • Schools produce Form I-20s, submit applications, update information, and maintain student records using SEVIS


Other Documentation


​"F" applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties a residence in a foreign country, which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the United States for a temporary period. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since applicants' circumstances vary greatly.

Additional Information



Employment while in "F" student status is governed by the school issuing the I-20. Students must be authorized by the school prior to engaging in any type of employment.


​Family Members:


The spouse and minor children of "F" students may apply for derivative "F-2" visas to accompany or follow to join the principal F-1 by presenting a copy of the principal's Form I-20. They must demonstrate that they will have sufficient financial resources to cover all expenses while in the United States.

Immigration Procedures At Port Of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has authority to deny admission. Also, the period for which the bearer of a student visa is authorized to remain in the U.S. is determined by CBP, not the consular officer. At the port of entry, a CBP official validates Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted. Those students who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must apply to USCIS using Form I- 539, Application to Extend Status. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS.

Contact Savitz Law today for more information on obtaining an F-1 Visa. 617-723-7111

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