F-1 Visa Overview
An F-1 visa is a student visa for the United States. It is provided by the United States to enable an individual, who is not a citizen of the United States, to pursue their education within the United States. An F-1 visa is applied for various academic disciplines that range from a course in finance, culinary arts, fine arts, medicine to obtaining a PH.D in Philosophy. It could be applied for any academic or vocational course offered by the various SEVP certified universities or colleges in the United States. There is no quota set for issuance of the F-1 visa.
What are the steps involved in obtaining an F-1 Visa?
An F-1 visa is non-immigrant visa and is applied for by non- U.S. citizens to pursue their education in the United States.
The first step in obtaining a student visa is the application for admission to a Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP) certified educational institution. More on SEVIS and SEVP below.
Once your admission has been confirmed in a college or university, the college or university will issue you an I-20 Form. This form is an informational record in the database of the Department of Homeland Security. This database system is called the SEVIS- Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is your college or university’s responsibility to enter your details into the SEVIZ. On confirmation of your admission, the I-20 will be mailed to you and you must produce this I-20 at the consulate when you apply for your F-1 visa.
Once you get your I-20, ensure that the I-20 form is in line with the information in your passport. There should be no spelling mistakes and your name and date of birth are mentioned correctly and are the same as in your passport. If there is a mistake then it is your duty to contact your educational institution and make sure that they make the necessary corrections.
Now that your I-20 is with you, you are required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
The next step is to apply for the F-1 student visa. As a student, you must apply for your visa as early as possible so that there is ample time to process the same. Consulates and embassies will be able to issue the student visa within a period of 120 days from the date mentioned on your 1-20 or the start date of your college or university. If you apply for a student visa before this window i.e before the before the stipulated period, the consulate or embassy will hold the application and issue it before the date specified in your I-20 as the start date of your college registration or college start date.
As part of the F1-visa application process, an interview is held at the consulate or embassy. Depending on your personal information and education course, you may be required to submit additional documents. That said, there are a standard set of documents that every student will have bring along with them to the visa interview. For the most current list of documents, always check the US State Government Travel site
Once you are done with your interview, you will be immediately informed whether or not your visa has been approved. If your visa has been approved, then do ensure to check how and where you can collect your passport. This process varies from consulate to consulate and country to country. Sometimes you can pick it up at the consulate itself and sometimes it will be mailed to you at the specified address in about 3 – 5 days. Do ensure to understand exactly when you will get your passport since there is no point in making travel arrangements without being in possession of your passport or at the very least understanding when you will get your passport in hand.
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