Students outside the US who want to come to the US to study at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and who are applying to universities and colleges for academic study or to language training programs require an F-1 visa. Students must be admitted to a US SEVP approved school, receive an I-20 form, submit the I-901 form and pay a SEVIS fee before being allowed to apply for an F-1 visa. .
US schools must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to be able to admit international students. SEVP is part of the Department of Homeland Security and manages nonimmigrant students, their dependents that have accompanied them to the US, and the schools they attend in the US. SEVIS
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) tracks all international students who apply to attend a US school and monitors their stay and the schools they attend.
Work and Study
F-1 visa holders may participate in on or off-campus employment. Please read more about F-1 employment options
When a student applies to a SEVP approved school, and is accepted, the school will issue an I-20 form and a SEVIS number, along with the acceptance letter. This form and number enter the student into the SEVIS system for tracking throughout his or her stay in the US.
F-1 Students must pay a $200 US dollar fee before being allowed to schedule a visa interview appointment with the US consulate in their home country. Students can pay this fee by credit or debit card via the internet, by check or money order by mail to SEVP, or by Western Union Quick Pay. Paying by the internet is quick and efficient, and generates an immediate receipt for payment. Always remember to print out the SEVIS payment receipt before exiting the site. Persons other than the student are allowed to make the SEVIS fee payment.
Please visit www.fmjfee.com for complete instructions. I-901 Form Students must file the form I-901 at the time they pay their SEVIS fee. Go towww.fmjfee.com to complete the form online, or to print a .pdf version. DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application form This form and an accompanying fee are required in some consulates. Please check the website of the consulate where you will be applying for the visa.
Visa Interview Appointment
Students will use the SEVIS number, located in the upper right hand corner of the I-20 form to schedule their visa interview appointment at the consulate. Be sure to check any available instructions on the website of the embassy or consulate where you will be applying for your visa.
Documents to accompany the student to the Visa Interview.
The visa interview costs $200 for each interview. When the student arrives at the consulate for their visa interview, they must be sure to bring with them the required documentation, including: I-20 form and acceptance letter from school, current valid passport, 2”x2” photo, SEVIS payment receipt, Visa application form, copies of degree and transcripts, financial statements documenting sufficient funds designated for the student’s educational expenses during their first year in school, a letter of support from the student’s financial sponsor, test score reports, and any other documentation of business or land holdings in their home country. It is also helpful to bring a brochure or other published information about the school you are applying to. It will be important that you show the visa officer you have sufficient funds for your first and second year of study.
The visa interview with a US visa officer will be very short, only 2 – 3 minutes in length. It is the student’s responsibility to demonstrate to the visa officer that they are a serious student and that they have a clear plan for their education in the US and future employment in their home country. See a list of required documents that you will need to take with you to the visa interview.
Students may choose to have their spouse and children apply for an F-2 visa to accompany them to the US. The following documents need to be submitted to the school in request of the F-2 I-20s: passports, marriage certificate, approximately $6,000 in additional financial support per dependent.
Length of Stay on a F-1 visa
Students are allow to enter the US up to 30 days in advance of the start date noted on their I-20. Students must report to the I-20 issuing school for which they received the visa within that time period, or they will be considered out of status. After completion of their program, students may transfer to a different program or to another school within the SEVIS system. The student also has the option of remaining in the US to work for up to one year in the Optional Practical Training program. For more information go to:
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