F-1 Student Non-Immigrant Visa F1 visa category is reserved for academic students enrolled in colleges, universities, high schools, language training programs, and other academic institutions. The other student visa is M-1, for non- academic vocational studies. Spouse and unmarried children under 21 of a student may come to the United States in F2 or M2 visa status. What are the requirements for F1 student visas? You must be attending an academic institution or a language-training program; You must be enrolled as a full-time student; The school must be be approved by the USCIS 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. How do I apply for an F-1 visa if I’m outside the U.S.? If you have been accepted to a school, you can expect to receive a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status. Bring the form I-20, visa application forms (DS-156, DS- 158, and DS-157 for certain applicants), and evidence of financial support to the appropriate US consulate to apply for an F-1 student visa. You should also bring other supporting documents including previous transcripts and test scores such as TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, etc. Your spouse and/or children should accompany you to the interview. Each will require a separate I-20 form, if they intend to accompany you to the United States. Family members enter with you on the F-2 Visa. Your family may also file F2 applications after you have entered the United States and begun studies. How do I prove that I have sufficient funds to support my study? A consular officer will review your documents during the interview and determine whether you have enough money to live and study in the United States. The best evidence is documentation of financial support from the institution. i.e. fellowships, scholarships, teaching/research assistantships and tuition waivers. The type of financial support and the amount is listed on Form I-20 which you receive from the schools officer at the institution. If you do not receive financial assistance from the institution, or if your funds are insufficient, you may need to present other materials such as recent bank statements and verification of your parents’ income. Be prepared to explain the sources and availability of the funds during the visa interview. U.S. consular officers are well trained on issues surrounding the economy and history of your home country. They understand the fact that many working families in many countries may not have enough funds to support a full-time student in the United States. So, some form of school financial aid is essential in many cases. How long may I stay in the U.S. as an F1 student? When you enter the US, an immigration officer at the port of entry will issue you an I-94 card that indicates your non-immigrant status (F1) and your authorized stay. It is typically “Duration of Status” or “D/S” on a student’s I-94 card, meaning that you may remain in the U.S. as long as you are enrolled in the school to complete your academic program. After the program ends, or your practical trains period ends, you will have 60 days to depart the U.S. Do not confuse your authorized duration of stay with the visa validity, which is an expiration date specified on your passport’s visa page. You may travel to the US border at any time before your F1 visa expires, but your authorized stay (an actual date or D/S) will be granted by USCIS at that point. May I transfer to a different school? Yes. You must notify your current school and work with the designated school official (DSO) to transfer your SEVIS record. You also need to obtain a new I-20 from your new school, and give the completed I-20 to your new DSO within 15 days of transfer date. May I travel outside the US? Yes. You may return to the US after an absence of no more than five months. You must have a new F1 visa if your original one has expired. Have your designated school official sign your I-20 before leaving the US. May I work as an F1 student? Yes. You may work on-campus, or off-campus after one year of study, but with restrictions. Click here for more details on student employment. Contact your school's immigration specialist for specific questions. Unauthorized employment is a serious violation of immigration terms and will have severe consequences. F2 dependents are not allowed to work.