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F1 Visa Guide – How to get American Student Visa

Are you a student who wants to study in the United States? Then, an F1 Visa can provide the authorization to travel to America for your education. The F1 Visa is a student visa for international students who want to attend educational institutions in the United States. It permits you to study between elementary and university levels and graduate degrees. So as a student visa, the F1 Visa allows you to temporarily live in the United States for a defined period while studying at a school, college, seminary, or conservatory.

Moreover, to get an F1 Visa, you need to know if you are qualified to apply for it; in other words, you are supposed to know your eligibility and visa requirements. Despite that, this article will guide you through an easy F1 Visa application with just a few simple steps.

F1 Visa Qualification

You may be among the students who ask if they qualify to apply for an F1 Visa. To calm your worries, here are the primary and specific conditions you will meet to qualify for F1 Visa, they are:

  • Get admitted into a SEVP-accepted institution.
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student.
  • Have strong ties to your home country.
  • Proof of financial sufficiency.
  • Be proficient in English.

Get admitted into a SEVP-accepted institution.

For you to qualify for F1 Visa, you will, first of all, get admitted into The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). SEVP lists schools, universities, and other institutions that meet the conditions and accept international students.

Moreover, Before applying to your preferred schools or universities, you should check the SEVP and see if those institutions are listed there. If listed, you can proceed to send them any documents that they require to make an admission decision. Nevertheless, if not listed, you should not apply since you will not get the student visa even if you are accepted into the school.

Be enrolled as a full-time student.

You will enroll in full-time studies after passing the School Exchange Visitor program.

Have strong ties to your home country

 It is good to know that If you do not prove and submit documents that you have strong ties to your home country and intend to go home after your educational program ends, it will be more challenging to get an F1 visa.

Proof financial sufficiency

 You will have to prove that you have sufficient funds in your bank accounts to cover the expenses of studying and living in the United States.

This does not mean that F1 students are not eligible for scholarships. However, you are encouraged to apply for scholarships and organizations to lower your financial burden.

Be proficient in English.

Your English proficiency is essential. First, you must prove that you can speak and understand English at a level that enables you to enroll in an academic program. Students can prove their language proficiency by taking standardized English proficiency tests such as the TOEFL or the IELTS.

American F1 Visa Requirements

There are some requirements you will need to apply for an F1 Visa. Once you are eligible to apply, you will provide the following documents as listed below:

  • Proof of paid F1 visa fee
  • Your valid passport.
  • Form DS-160 for non-immigrant visa applications.
  • Two photographs meet the US Visa Photo Requirements.
  • Form I-20. Your Form I-20 states the number of funds you need to finance your education and live in the US. You must submit documents that prove you have that amount readily available. This can be done by submitting various documents, such as:
  • Bank statements for the last three years
  • Tax records for the last three years
  • Pay stubs of previous employment
  • If you have received a scholarship, you also need to submit proof of it
  • Paying a semester’s or a year’s worth of tuition is also a good idea, but not mandatory
  • If you are supported or sponsored by someone else in the US, you will need to submit Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and bank statements for the last three years of that person.
  • If you are funding your US education through a loan, you must also show proof of the approved loan
  • Documents that prove your previous education and current qualifications:
  • Original transcripts
  • Standardized test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GMAT, etc.)
  • Acceptance letters from the educational institution which accepted you
  • Previous degree diplomas
  • Proof of purchased health insurance for international students.

7 Steps to Apply for an F1 Visa

After you have assembled all your required documents, you can begin the application process for the F1 visa. The process will have to go through seven steps to be complete. The steps are:

  1. Get your admissions documents from the SEVP institution.
  2. Apply online through the DS-160 form.
  3. Pay the application fee.
  4. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  5. Schedule your F1 visa interview.
  6. Submit the file with the required F1 visa documents.
  7. Attend the student visa interview.

#1. Get your admissions documents from the SEVP institution

The first step is to get your admission documents from the SEVP institution. You can do this after you have applied and are accepted into the school you want to attend. They will have to complete some procedures so that you can apply for the F1 visa. Moreover, the most crucial document you need is Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. This form allows you to apply for an F1 student visa and attend your interview.

#2. Apply online through the DS-160 form

The second step is to apply online through the DS-160 form. You can do this after you get your Form I-20 and start the usual application process. This includes filing the DS-160 form online with the necessary information about your visa status.

#3. Pay the application fee

At this moment, you can pay your application fee. The application fee for the student visa is $160. You must pay this fee and get the receipt, which you will need later for your interview documents. In addition, you might have to pay additional fees based on your country of origin and the US Embassy you are applying from.

#4. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee

When the SEVP institution admits you, your school immediately registers you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). To have full registration, there is a SEVIS I-901 fee. For the F1 visa, this fee is $200.

#5. Schedule your F1 visa interview

When you complete the DS-160 form and pay the fees, you will need to schedule your interview. Remember, the interview is a mandatory step before you get your student visa. Try to schedule it as early as possible since there might be delays due to the heavy workload of the US Embassy. When you schedule it, you will receive an interview appointment letter which you will need later on in the application process.

#6. Submit the file with the required documents

Before you go to attend your interview, you should prepare your file with the required documents for students.

#7. Attend the student visa interview

The last step for your F1 Visa application is to attend the student visa interview. When you attend the student visa interview, the questions will mostly revolve around your reasons for going to the US and the institution you are going to. In addition, the interviewer will assess whether you intend to return to your home country after completing your degree. At this point, you will now know whether you are successful or not.

Watch an Expert Explain How to get US F1 Visa in Video Tutorial

F1 Visa Validity

Knowing the validity period for your F1 visa is good so that you will plan well. When your visa is approved after the interview, it might be for the full-time you will be in school in the US or for less. If your study program takes one year to graduate, the Embassy will most likely give you a visa valid for one year. If your degree program is two years and you only get the visa for one year, you should apply later to renew it. In this case, it is the best option to renew the F1 visa.

Moreover, your F1 visa is valid as long as it is stated on your I-20 form and I-94 form, which are given to you when you enter the US.

Therefore, If you are renewing your visa, you should follow the same procedure we discussed above. However, you can waive the interview because you have already done it once and intend to continue your education for the remaining years to get your degree.

Note that if your visa is approved, you can depart for the US 30 days before your program begins. You can only enter the US after that.

F1 Visa Processing Time

In most cases, you will get a response on this visa immediately after the interview. At the end of the visa interview, the interviewer might congratulate you for getting the visa or will provide you with a document letting you know the reason for the denial. This is because this type of visa is processed before your interview. The interview is the last step for the US Embassy to assess whether they should issue the visa or not.

However, there are cases where the response and processing of the F1 Visa takes a few days, so you should be patient.

Frequently Asked Questions [ FAQs]

When Should I Apply for the F1 Visa?

After you are admitted into the institution of your choice, you can apply for the F1 visa 120 days before starting your program. After that, you must wait to apply, but applying later might cause you a delay due to processing times. So as soon as the 120-day countdown begins, make sure you submit your application.

Can I Stay Longer Than My Visa Allows?

After your visa expires, you have a 60-day grace period to prepare for your departure to your home country. If your visa covers only part of the time, you will be in school in the US and have to apply for renewal or extensions. The extensions are approved only if you can prove you will complete your degree in the US and intend to return as soon as it is over.

Can I Work as an International Student in the United States?

You may work as an F1 student but only for short periods since your visa is a student and not a work visa. You can work part-time on campus while school is in session and full-time during breaks. If you want to work outside of campus, you have two options. If you, for example, find a job that requires a different type of visa other than F1, then you are also eligible to change your status.

Can I bring my family members to the United States?

 If you have dependents, such as a spouse or unmarried children under 21 years old, they are also allowed to come to the US. This can be done with an F2 visa.

How long can you stay on an F1 visa?

60 days. F1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status. They can remain in the US for up to 60 days beyond the time it takes to complete their academic program unless they have applied and been approved to stay and work for some time under the OPT Program.

Is getting an F1 visa difficult?

The process is simple enough, but it will take a long time. American visa issues usually take a long time to sort out at the best of times, but for an F1 Student Visa USA, there are other considerations to consider. The first step is to apply to an American university.

How much does an F1 visa cost?

The total cost for your F-1 student visa will be approximately $510, including the cost of the visa, plus SEVIS processing and maintenance fees. Make sure to save the I-901 SEVIS fee receipt. You will need it for your visa interview. Your DS-160 is your visa application.

Can you work on an F1 visa?

On an F1 visa, you are allowed to work on campus: Up to 20 hours per week during regular full-time quarters or semesters. More than 20 hours per week between quarters or semesters. More than 20 hours per week during school breaks (like winter or summer).

Can I become a US citizen with F1 Visa?

With F1 Visa, you can only study in the US, but if you want to be a permanent resident, you can apply for that when you meet the eligibility.


Your dream to study in the United States is already achieved with an F1 Visa. So follow the step-by-step guide to obtain your F1 visa and be happy. For more information, contact us at

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