Foreigners who want to study in the United States need an F-1 student visa. Although there are also M-1 and J-1 student visas the most requested one is the F-1. In 2019 only, the U.S. government issued more than 470 student visas.
Currently, in 2020 there are more than 1 million foreigners studying in the country and applications do not stop. This makes complete sense since in the USA you will find some of the top universities and educational centers in the world. This has contributed to increasing the gigantic demand for student visas each year.
Los Angeles immigration lawyers at Lluis Law are experts in this type of visa for the United States. Call now and request a free consultation and we will explain how to apply for a student visa. You can also come to our full offices located in the heart the city.
Requirements to obtain the F-1 student visa
To apply for a United States student visa, you must meet a number of requirements. The most common and basic are the following:
- Have been admitted by a recognized US higher education institution. In the following link you can find a complete list of academic institutions recognized by the government.
- Study full time in the US
- Present a valid passport with a validity of not less than six months, after the period of stay in the country.
- Complete Form I-20 (used for F1 and M1 visas).
- Complete Form DS-2019, if it is a J1 visa.
What is Form I-20?
People who want to study in the United States require the I-20 form. The I-20 form is used to process the F-1 and M-1 student visa and maintain legal status in the United States. Either by transfer or by exchange to another university within the country.
Whoever wishes to apply through this form must certify that:
- He is a bona fide student (authentic, acting in good faith).
- Meets the admission requirements of the university or academic institution.
- You will complete a full study program in the USA.
- You have enough money to pay for tuition and living expenses in the United States. So you agree not to work illegally to support yourself.
Foreigners who have other legal status in the USA do not need to fill out the I-120 form to study in the country. Whether you want to be a full-time student or take part-time studies.
How many types of student visas are there?
There are three categories of student visas in the United States, these are:
F-1 visa. It is granted to carry out academic studies in universities, institutes of higher education, language schools and conservatories. It is also used for long-term courses of more than 19 hours a week.
M-1 visa. It is an exclusive visa for post-baccalaureate non-academic vocational education training courses. For language or pilot courses, for example.
J-1 visa. It is used to carry out exchange studies in the USA. For example, international baccalaureate.
How much does a student visa in the United States cost in 2020?
The processing of the American student visa requires the payment of two types of fees:
- A charge of $ 200 to finance the Exchange Student and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This is the computer based system for foreign nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors in the United States.
- Additional payment of another $ 160 for the right to apply for a visa at the US embassy or consulate in the country of the applicant.
In total, the cost of processing the student visa is $ 360 dollars.
Who can apply for an F-1 visa?
All foreigners eligible to be admitted and obtain a US study certification can apply. F-1 visa applications include students who will study at universities, colleges and other American academic institutions.
Underage between 14 and 18 years old can enroll and study in a United States high school or preparatory school. To do this, they can apply for an F-1 visa. However they cannot study for free in a public high school.
Generally, children between the ages of 5 and 14 cannot apply for an F-1 visa. However, if the child enrolls in a private elementary school, he can receive an F-1 visa.
How long does the student visa last for in the United States?
The validity of American student visas vary depending on the type of visa approved. Let’s see the validity time of each one:
F-1 visa. It has a validity period equal to the estimated duration of the study program.
M-1 visa. Its validity is for a maximum of one year.
J-1 visa. The duration of this visa ranges from 4 to 36 months, depending on the type of exchange program and the applicant.
How to obtain an F-1 visa in 2020?
If you have been accepted by an academic institution in the United States, there are a number of steps to follow. Then the institution where you plan to study will enroll you in the (SEVIS).
The steps to obtain an F-1 visa are as follows:
- Complete and send the I-20 form to the Citizenship and Immigration Service – USCIS.
- Pay the $ 200 fee to SEVIS. Make sure you do this at least three days before the scheduled interview date at the U.S. embassy.
- Complete Form DS-160 online to schedule the appointment at the consulate / embassy. Along with the form, a photograph of the applicant must also be uploaded. Then print the “confirmation sheet” that contains the barcode, since it is necessary to take it to the interview.
- Make an appointment with the consular officer. This is also done online by searching for the embassy name or by clicking on this link .
- Pay the $ 160 visa application fee at the U.S. embassy / consulate in the applicant’s country.
- Prepare for the interview at the embassy.
For the appointment at the embassy it is advisable to bring the following documents:
- Copy of the printed quote.
- Applicant’s current passport with at least six months of validity, after the expiration date of the residence permit. It does not hurt to carry the passports you have previously had.
- Confirmation sheet (Form DS-160 with barcode).
- Payment receipts for the student visa application.
- Form I-20 if it is for the F1 or M1 visa. Submit Form DS-2019 if you applied for the J1 visa.
- Payment receipt from SEVIS.
- Front photo of the applicant, as indicated on the embassy page.
Other important documents to accompany the application
Our immigration attorneys also recommend bringing:
- Bank documents that show the availability of funds from the applicant to cover their living expenses. At least during the first year of study in the USA.
- Academic documents (diplomas, degrees, grades, SAT / TOEFL results) that demonstrate the applicant’s degree of education.
- Affidavit of support from parents or persons who agree to finance the studies of the visa applicant. It is recommended to accompany this letter with funds or bank deposits and financial balances. If the funds have been obtained through a scholarship, present the corresponding supports.
After receiving visa approval it is important to note the following. Entry to the United States is not allowed before 30 days from the beginning of the study program. Upon arrival in the U.S., you must submit the passport with the visa and the I-20 or DS-2019 form in immigration.
What are the requirements to study in the United States?
Although each university or educational center in the United States has its own rules, there are three basic requirements and an optional one.
- Achieve pre-enrollment at the selected American university.
- Pass the SAT Reasoning Test and the TOEFL.
- Apply for and obtain the student visa.
Last but not least, there is the pursuit of a study grant. Either to cover all or part of the tuition and living expenses in the United States.
University studies in the United States are very expensive. But the universities themselves offer scholarships to cover parts of the tuition fees if the applicant qualifies for:
Sports scholarships. For high performance sports students entering the university team. Sometimes these scholarships cover part or all of the tuition.
Academic Scholarships. They are awarded to students who demonstrate high academic achievement. The scholarship amounts are usually between $ 10,000 and $ 30,000.
International scholarships. These are offered to International students from certain countries and with certain qualities. Universities grant them with the aim of internationalizing their campus and can cover up to 50% of tuition.
Interview for F-1 student visa
It is advisable to attend the interview promptly at the embassy / consulate headquarters on the scheduled day and time. Security personnel do not allow metal objects such as keys or electronic (mobile) devices to enter, it is better to leave them outside or home.
That day you must bring the documents mentioned in the requirements section to obtain the student visa. In addition to university admission documents, identification documents and payment supports.
It is important to state clearly to the consular officer that the applicant only wants to study in the U.S. and not remain in the country permanently. To prove it you could carry property documents, and other documents that demonstrate your interests or family ties. Everything that can indicate in some way that you do not intend to emigrate but only study.
If it can be proven that the student will not represent a public charge for the U.S government, somewhat better. When the consular officer asks a question, we advise answering only what is necessary in a clear and concise manner. Long or detailed answers may raise doubts.
F-2 visas for relatives of an international student in the United States
Students with an F-1 visa can travel to the US accompanied by close family members. Family members of international students need an F-2 visa. Those who can apply for this type of visa are:
- Spouse (husband / wife) of the student. This includes same-sex marriages.
- Unmarried children under 21 years of age. It is recommended to familiarize yourself and manage the underage income in a primary or secondary educational institution in parallel.
- This visa can be applied for along with the F-1 student visa or after the student has traveled and is already studying.
F-2, F-3 and F-4 visas
The F-2 visa is granted exclusively to dependent family members of F-1 visa holders.
The F-2 visa process also requires completing Form I-20 for each of the student’s relatives. The filling and sending of this form can be done while the student manages the F-1 visa application or later.
F-2 visa application requires proof of the family link with the F-1 visa applicant. That is to say, marriage certificate, birth certificates and more.
An F-2 visa allows beneficiaries to live in the USA and study as well, but cannot work. The student’s parents cannot obtain derivative visas for this category.
While F-3 visas are issued for married children, their spouses and underage children of the F-1 visa holder. Instead, the F-4 visa is issued to siblings under 21 years of age and to their spouses and underage children.
Frequently asked questions about F-1 visas
These are some of the most frequently asked questions by our clients:
Can I work with an F-1 visa?
No. The F-1 visa only allows you to study in the United States. However, it could carry out certain remunerated work activities, since the need of the student to support his studies is understood.
Among the job restrictions that apply are: working part-time only on the college campus. While the study program is developed and, full time, during the hours of rest.
The only two situations in which a student is allowed to work outside the field is because of:
Can an elementary or secondary student visa applicant study at a U.S. public school?
Public schools in the United States are financed and subsidized by the federal or state government. Students studying in public schools do not pay tuition or other fees.
Instead, students applying for an F-1 or M-1 visa must show proof of tuition payment. This must be done at the time of applying for the visa. Therefore, you cannot apply for a student visa to pursue primary or secondary studies.
If I enter the USA with a tourist visa, can I study there?
Those who travel to the United States on a tourist visa can enroll for a short non-academic course. This is a course of less than 18 hours a week. But if you want to study at an educational institution, then you must apply for a student visa.
Violating visa conditions is very risky since it will have migratory consequences for the holder, if detected. This must also be complied with by citizens of countries benefiting from the Visa Waiver Program. In particular, Spanish and Chilean citizens.
Our Lluis Law immigration attorneys can tell you what options are available in these cases. If you call now for a free consultation we can advise you on choosing the most appropriate visa for your situation.
Can I get the Green Card as an F-1 visa holder?
Although it is a non-immigrant visa, holders of an F-1 visa could obtain the Green Card. This is one of the few visa categories where you can “self-apply” for an immigrant visa later.
Although it is a somewhat complicated process, fulfilling the application requirements and with legal advice, it is possible to do so. There are certain options for F-1 visa holders to opt for an immigration option. One is to apply for an immigrant visa as a “person of extraordinary ability.”
Similarly, there are other options for adjusting immigration status for holders of a student visa. For example, marrying a US citizen in the United States and obtaining permanent resident status thorugh family based immigration.
After two years of Legal Residence, you can become a U.S. citizenship by naturalization. Another option is to apply for an investor visa ( E-2 or EB-5). Although for students who finish their studies in the United States, a good option is to be hired by an employer. To do this, an H-1B visa must be requested from USCIS.
Can I extend my stay in the USA with an F-1 visa?
Yes. Holders of an F-1 student visa have this option, as they can adjust their status in some cases. For example, if you are hired and sponsored by a U.S. employer.
The employer can make a petition for a foreign worker to the USCIS as previously mentioned.
If I have a derived visa, can I study?
Certain visa categories such as H-4, L-2 allow it, if the person is single and under the age of 21. Although you also have the option to request a change. If your marital status changes or you come of age, you must apply for an F-1 visa.
If you need help to apply for an F-1 student visa do not hesitate to request our services. Our immigration attorneys can help and advise you on any type of visa for the United States. Contact us through our phone number, contact form or come directly to our offices here in Los Angeles.