F1 Student FAQ

  1. What is F1 student visa?
    The F1 student visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign students to enter into the U.S. to attend a full course of study at colleges, universities, conservatories, academic high schools (subject to strict regulations) and institutions with language training programs.
  2. How do I qualify for an F-1 visa?
    To qualify for an F-1 visa, you must:
    • Be proficient in English, unless you are coming to the U.S. to participate in an English language training program. In some cases the school may make special arrangements to teach you English
    • Prove that you have sufficient funds to complete your education
    • Be coming to attend a full course of study by a school approved by the USCIS
    • Have Form I-20A-B issued by the US school in which you are enrolled
  3. What privileges do I enjoy on an F-1 visa?
    On an F-1 visa, you may:
    • Come to the U.S. as a full time academic or language student enrolled in a program leading to a degree or certificate Transfer from one school to another or switch academic programs by notifying the change to the USCIS
    • Legally work part time on-campus. You may even seek off-campus employment if it is economically necessary or if it involves practical training
    • Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. until the completion of your studies
    • Bring your dependents on F-2 visa
  4. What are the limitations of an F-1 visa? On an F-1 visa, you must:
    • NOT work off-campus except with prior USCIS permission
    • Attend the specific educational institution for which your visa has been approved
    • Maintain Full-time student status as pertaining to youir specific program (e.g. 12 hours for undergraduate students and 9 hours for graduate students)
  5. How long can I stay in the U.S. on an F-1 visa?
    The Form I-20 indicates the length of time you may stay to finish your course of study. You are permitted to stay until you finish your studies provided that you maintain your visa status and extend your completion date (on your I-20) if required.
  6. Can I extend my stay in the U.S. on an F-1 visa if I am unable to complete my studies in the assigned time?
    Yes, you may apply for extension of stay if you need extra time to complete your studies. Your Form I-20 can be extended by The Office of International Student Services.
  7. Can I work on an F-1 visa? Yes, you may work on-campus on F-1 visa. However, you may not work off-campus during the first academic year. You must prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your education and living expenses while applying for the visa. Immigration rules for working off-campus are very strict. You should review the Employment Guidelines for F1 and J1 Students before working.

  8. Can I bring my dependents on an F-1 visa? Yes, you may bring your spouse or unmarried children under the age 21 on F-2 dependent visa.
  9. Can my dependents work on an F-2 visa? No, your dependents may not work on F-2 status. They have to apply for the appropriate work visa.
  10. Can my dependents study on an F-2 visa?
    Yes, your dependents may study on F-2 visa. They do not have to apply for separate study visa.
  11. Under what circumstances could I 'fall out of status'? The F-1 visa regulations require you to 'maintain status.' You may fall out of status if you:
    • Fail to maintain full-time enrollment
    • Work illegally, either off-campus without authorization or on-campus more than 20 hours per week during school session
    • Fail to request a program extension and continue to study past the degree completion date listed in your Form I-20A-B
    • Transfer schools without following the appropriate procedure (getting a new Form I-20A-B and having it processed by an International Student Adviser at the new school)
    • Do not attend the school that the USCIS authorized you to attend
  12. What if my F-1 visa expires while I am in the U.S.? Your F-1 visa does not determine how long you may stay in the U.S. You need not be concerned about the expiration of your F-1 unless you decide to leave the U.S. for a short visit abroad prior to completing your studies. Before you re-enter the U.S., you will need to make sure you have a valid US student visa. The F-1 visa itself (unlike your F-1 status) is only important at the port of entry to the U.S.
  13. When must I renew my F-1 visa? You must renew your F-1 visa if you decide to travel outside the U.S. and your current F-1 visa will expire before you re-enter the U.S. to continue your program. If this is the case, you will need to apply for another F-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Students traveling to Mexico, Canada and islands adjacent to the U.S. (except Cuba) for less than 30 days are not required to have a current F-1 visa in their passport in order to re-enter as their visa gets automatically revalidated at the border.

 

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