F1 Visa Guide – How to get American Student Visa

Learn 7 easy steps to get American F1 Student Visa

Are you a student who wants to study in the United States? An F1 Visa can provide the necessary 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 level to university and graduate degree level. 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 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 your visa requirements. Despite that, this article will guide you through an easy F1 Visa application with just a few simple steps.

F1 Visa Qualification

Probably 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 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 has a list of schools, universities, and other institutions which meet the conditions and accept international students.

Moreover, It is recommended that before applying to your preferred schools or universities, you should first 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. But 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 you have passed through the School Exchange Visitor program.

Have strong ties to your home country

 It is good to know that If you don’t 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 difficult 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. You are encouraged to apply for scholarship funds and organizations to lower your financial burden.

Be proficient in English

Your English proficiency is very important. 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 meeting the US Visa Photo Requirements.
  • Form I-20. Your Form I-20 states the amount of funds you need to finance your education and living in the US. You must submit documents which prove you have that amount readily available. This can be done by submitting various documents, such as:
  • Bank statements for the last 3 years
  • Tax records for the last 3 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 F1 visa required 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 important document you need to have is Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Without this form, you will not be able 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 you can 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. 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 you are admitted by the SEVP institution, 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 are done filling out the DS-160 form and paying 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 go to 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. The interviewer will try to assess whether you intend to return to your home country after you complete 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

It is good you know the validity period for your F1 Visa so that you will plan yourself well. When your visa is approved after the interview, it might be for the full time that you will be in school in the US, or for less. If your study program takes 1 year to graduate, the Embassy will most likely give you a visa that is valid for 1 year If your degree program is 2 years and you only get the visa for 1 year, you should then later apply to renew it. In this case, it is the best option to renew the F1 visa.

Moreover, the validity of your F1 visa is for 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. You might be able to waive the interview for the reason that you have already done it once and your intent is to continue your education for the remaining years to get your degree.

Note, if your visa is approved, you are allowed to depart for the US 30 days before your program begins. You cannot enter the US anytime earlier than that.

F1 Visa Processing Time

In most cases, you will get the 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 denial. This is because the processing of this type of visa actually happens 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 if that happens.

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 like 120 days before you are scheduled to start your program. You cannot apply any earlier, 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 doesn’t cover the whole time that you will be in school in the US, you will have to apply for renewal or extensions. The extensions are approved only if you can prove you will be completing your degree in the US and you 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 of time since your visa is a student and not a work visa. You are allowed to 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 status.

Can I bring my family members to the United States?

 In case you have dependents, such as a spouse or unmarried children under 21 years old, they are allowed to come to the US too. 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 up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program, unless they have applied and been approved to stay and work for a period of 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 take into account. The first step is to apply for an American university.

How much does a F1 visa cost?

The total cost for your F-1 student visa will be approximately $510, which includes the cost of the visa itself, 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 semester. More than 20 hours per week during school breaks (like winter or summer break).

Can I become a US citizen with F1 Visa?

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


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