The F-1 visa is for international students who seek to study in the United States. It allows a student to enter the United States as a full-time academic student at a U.S. college, university, academic high school, private elementary school, other academic institution, or in a language training program. F-1 students are prohibited from attending public elementary schools or publicly-funded adult education programs. The spouse and child may stay in the United States with the student by obtaining their individual Form I-20 and apply for a F-2 visa.

F-1 Visa Qualifications

  • The student obtains a SEVIS Form I-20 issued in his or her own name by an SEVP-approved school.
  • The student has documentary evidence of financial support in the amount indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20.

Process to Apply F-1 Visa

After the student enrolls a SEVP-approved school in the United States, the student will receive a Form I-20 from the school and pay SEVIS I-901 fee.

The initial F-1 visa applicant must attend the visa interview at the U.S. consulate in person. The visa application includes the steps of online visa application (DS-160) and visa fee payment, interview appointment scheduling, documentation preparation for visa interview, interview attendance.

After the F-1 visa is approved, the student shall be prepared to enter the United States, no early than 30 days before the school start date. Note that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States.  A F-1 visa only allows a student to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States as a student. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.