Q: Do I Qualify?
In order to qualify for F-1 status, the alien must first apply to, and be accepted by; an academic institution in the United States authorized to enroll foreign students. The student must establish that he or she has the financial ability to pay for all costs associated with the education sought as well as meet the school’s academic requirements and show that he or she is sufficiently fluent in English.
1. American academic institution admits you for a course of study.
2. Submit Documents that demonstrate you have academic requirements that apply to all students entering the program
3. Evidence of English-language proficiency
4. Proof of sufficient funds to cover cost of living and tuition (or, evidence showing you are a winner of a scholarship, fellowship, a grant, or an award that covers tuition fees and living expenses)
5. A Form I-20 A/B issued by the school you are planning to attend
Q: What Are the Key Documents Required?
1. Non-refundable application fee
2. Form DS-156, completed and signed
3. Form DS-157 Supplemental nonimmigrant visa application (all male applicants between the ages 16 and 45 should file this)
4. Form DS-158.
5. Valid passport
6. One photograph of 2×2″
7. Form I-20 A-B (issued by school)
8. Evidence of sufficient funds
9. Supporting documents satisfying the consulate that the student intends to leave US after completion of studies
Q: Can I Bring My Family?
Yes, you are allowed to bring your spouse and children. F-2 visas are issued to the spouse of the F-1 and unmarried children under twenty-one years of age.
Holders of F-2 are considered to be the dependants of F-1 holders. F-2 holders may be entitled to enter and remain in the United States for the duration of the F-1 holder’s authorized duration of stay. The duration of F-2 dependants’ valid stay is the same as that of the F-1 holder.
The F-2 spouse and minor children of an F-1 student shall each be issued an individual SEVIS Form I-20.
Q: How Long Can I Stay on F-1 Student Visa?
When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student. You can stay even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the US.
If you choose stay for an additional duration:
• You should have completed the course of studies shown on the I-20
• You should have completed any authorized practical training (up to twelve months)
Total Duration of stay allowed:
• An additional 60 days (to prepare for departure from the US or to transfer to another school).
F-1 student admitted to attend a public high school cannot stay beyond a total duration of 12 months of study at any public high school(s).
Q: Can I Work While Studying?
Yes, you can. There are categories for employment of students on F-1 Visa.
• On Campus
There are two kinds of on campus employment that do not require USCIS authorization. Full time students in good standing may:
1. Work 20 hours per week while school is in session
2. Employment as part of a scholarship, assistantship, fellowship, or post-doctoral appointment
• Off Campus (Economic Necessity)
1. Unexpected change in financial resources or funding can be a sufficient reason to get permission from USCIS to work off-campus after nine months of school attendance. Examples of economic necessity are:
• Severe devaluation in the currency of student’s home country,
• Substantial increases in the cost of tuition
• Substantial increase in costs of living or medical bills.
Q: Can My Spouse or Children Work?
No. A Spouse on F-2 and children of an F-1 student may not accept employment.
Q: Can My Spouse and Children Study?
Yes, but with limitations. The F-2 spouse of an F-1 student may ONLY engage in full time study of a vocational and recreational subject. The F-2 child may only engage in full time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade).
An F-2 spouse or F-2 child wishing to register for full time study must change their status to F-1, J-1, or M-1.
An F-1 student may be admitted for a period up to 30 days before the indicated report date or program start date listed on Form I-20.
1. Maintaining f-1 status
In order to maintain your F-1 status after entering the United States, you should do the following consistently:
1) Enroll full-time: This range from 9-12 credit hours per semester, depending on how your school defines full-time enrolment. Registering for the summer is optional as far as your status is concerned.
2) Keep all of your documents valid: Your Passport, I-20, and financial documents should be valid at all times.
Note: You should also have a valid health insurance plan at all times (see details at the bottom).
You will violate your status if you do the following:
1) Enroll for less than full-time without authorization
2) Seek off-campus employment without the written authorization Engage in any criminal activities
3) Fail to renew and update your I-20
4) Fail to leave the United States after the completion of your study.
2. Other Requirements
1) Notify your school officials when you change your address. American immigration law requires you to report change of address within 10 days of moving
2) Work with your officials if you would like to transfer to another school. You should not leave your school for another before you obtain written approval and a new I-20 that reflects your new status
3) You must get official authorization for any transfers within your school such as from one department to another.
3. Health Insurance (Mandatory)
Healthcare is extremely expensive in the United States and each school requires students to have standard health insurance plans for a fee. Therefore, you should know that it is a mandatory requirement to have health insurance at all time and universities do not provide free health services. Most schools have health insurance services for students to which you have access. If you prefer to use a non-university health insurance, you should consult with your school official to obtain exemption.
You need a valid visa to enter and reenter the United States. You must make sure that your I-20 is valid.
The expiration date on your visa does not prevent you from reentering the United States if you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean countries (not exceeding 30 days, though) as long as your I-20 document is valid. For other travels outside of the United States when your F-1 visa has expired, you are required to reapply for a new F-1 visa at the US consulate in your country of citizenship before reentering the United States. In order to reapply for an F-1 visa, you must show updated financial documents in addition to all other requirements.
Caution: Before you travel, make sure to obtain all the necessary signatures, letters, and other relevant documents from your designated school officials.
For travel within the US, you should always carry with you all of your valid documents such as passport, I-20, school ID, etc.
Note: Failure to maintain your status and update your information (when changes such as change of address occur) has adverse consequences. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, you may be arrested, deported, or disallowed from reentering the United States for a number of years. You need to communicate with school official regularly who would help you resolve problems or notify you of new immigration updates.