F1 Student Visas

Are you a foreign student? Would to you like to pursue your education in the U.S.?

If you answered “Yes” to the above questions, then the F-1 visa is most likely the best choice for you! Every year, the U.S. attracts many students from all over the world who intend to enhance their education. A 2016 First Quarter Summary from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) reports that over 1.11 million non-immigrant students are actively involved in educational studies in the U.S this year, with nearly 77% of those in university bachelor’s and master’s degree programs! And there’s a 15% increase in the number of non-immigrant students enrolled in master’s program since July 2015.

A 2015 report from the Department of State shows that 677,928 F-1 visas were issued in 2015. Additionally the 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows nearly a million non-immigrant students are actively involved in educational studies in the U.S this year, with 362,228 of those in university graduate degree programs and 398,824 in undergraduate degree programs.

The F-1, or student visa, allows students to enter the U.S. to accomplish this mission. For a person to qualify for an F-1 student visa, he or she should be accepted for enrollment in an established SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) certified school in the U.S. All SEVP schools are designated as legitimate schools approved to issue visas to foreign nationals. With an F-1 visa, a student can study at an accredited institution in the U.S. and is also eligible to work on campus. Upon completion of most educational programs, the student is allowed to obtain an optional practical training, where he or she is authorized to work with an employer for
approximately one additional year. For more information regarding the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), please refer to http://www.ice.gov/sevis.


To qualify for an F-1 visa, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she:
 Has a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence;
 Intends to depart from the U.S. upon completion of his or her course of study;
 Possesses sufficient funds to pursue the proposed course of study;
 Must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency. Most students from non-English speaking countries are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language Exam) and the TSE (Test of Speaking English Exam);
 Has met the necessary qualifications to enroll in a university in the US., for example, if a student has completed his or her bachelor’s degree in a foreign country, he or she then applies for a master’s degree program in the U.S.


The first step in getting an F-1 visa is being accepted for enrollment in a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school in the U.S. For a list of SEVP approved schools, please visit the official U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website.

Please note: Each respective school’s application provides detailed information about the requirements necessary to apply for their program of study. For example, if you are applying for a graduate program, most schools will require that the student completes the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) examinations. If a student is applying for an undergraduate program, most schools will require the SAT exam. The GMAT is required when a foreign student intends to apply for an MBA program in the U.S., and the GMAT is generally required when a student wishes to pursue a master’s degree in other fields. If the student is considering applying for a law degree, it will be necessary to take the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT), or if he or she intends to pursue medical school, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will be required.

After a student has provided the school with any required test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, fees, etc., the student will be informed whether or not he or she has been admitted. If the student has been admitted, the school will provide him or her with a Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status form, commonly referred to as the I-20.


A prospective F-1 visa applicant must provide the completed Certificate of Eligibility for
Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students or I-20 form. As previously mentioned, this form must be completed on behalf of the student by their approved school. A prospective F-1 visa applicant should also be prepared to provide:

 Transcripts and diplomas from previous schools attended by the student;
 Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution, e.g., TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.;
 Financial evidence that shows that the prospective student or parents who are sponsoring the student have sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of the student’s intended study in the U.S..

Note that an interview is required as a part of the F-1 visa process for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79. A fingerprint scan will also be taken. A Consular Officer will make the final decision about whether the student has demonstrated non-immigrant intent and qualifies for an F-1 visa. Non-immigrant intent refers to the student’s objective (which must be documented) to return to his or her home country after he or she completes his or her educational program in the United States.

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