F VISA – Student Visa


F-1 visas allow individuals from around the world to study in the U.S. at accredited colleges, universities and other institutions to build and improve their skills.

There are many different visa options that allow foreign students to study in the U.S.  Many individuals interested in studying or conducting research at a U.S. college or university apply for an F-1 visa.  F-1 students may also study at seminaries, conservatories and high schools.


Requirements for the F-1 Visa

  • You must be enrolled in an academic educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program at a college or university approved by USCIS.
  • You must be enrolled as a full-time student and be fluent in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
  • You must maintain a residence abroad.
  • You must have an original Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, issued from a U.S. college or university that has your signature and evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses.


Job Options for F-1 Students

F-1 students may also obtain work authorization in the U.S., depending on their academic program and the length of their stay. Employment allows students the opportunity to gain experience, interact with American business, and, where necessary, supplement family support or personal resources due to changed financial need.


On-Campus Employment

F-1 students may be employed on campus as long as the student works no more than 20 hours a week while school is in session. Students may be employed full-time during vacations and recess periods as long as they intend to register for the next term.

On-campus employment means employment performed on the premises of the school or at an affiliated off-site location. It includes employment of a type normally performed by students, such as work in the school library, cafeterias, or a student store, or employment that is part of a student’s scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship.


Off-Campus Cooperative Programs and Internships

Cooperative (or co-op) training programs and paid internships (called “curricular practical training”) are work-study programs that are part of or related to a student’s degree. A student cannot qualify for curricular practical training until he or she has completed nine months of study or is enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular practical training. Curricular practical training can be either part-time or full-time. Once students work in full-time curricular practical training for 12 months or longer, they will be ineligible for post-completion practical training at that academic level.


Pre-Completion Practical Training

Off-campus pre-completion practical training in a field related to studies is permitted for F-1 students as long as the work is for no more than 20 hours a week while school is in session. Full-time employment under this category is allowed during vacations and recess periods as long as the student intends to register for the next term. Time spent in pre-completion practical training will be deducted from the 12 month full-time employment available for post-completion practical training at that academic level.


Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

An F-1 student is eligible for up to one year of Post-completion practical training. However, students who have received one year or more of full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion practical training. Time spent in pre-completion practical training is deducted from the 12-month maximum.

Authorization for post-completion practical training may be granted for a maximum of 12 months and takes effect only after the student has graduated or completed a course of study. In any event, practical training must be completed within a 14-month, period following the completion of studies. An F-1 student may be authorized to engage in post-completion practical training after each higher educational level.


Processing Times

Processing times differ from consulate to consulate but visas are usually issued within 1 to 2 weeks.


Duration of Stay

After you have been accepted into an accredited U.S. college or university, your school will issue a document called a Form I-20.  You will be allowed to continue your studies and live in the U.S. until this date as long as you remain a full-time student.  If you need additional time to complete your studies, your status may be extended.


Spouses and Children

An F-1 student’s dependent spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may granted F-2 status. These F-2 dependents may not be employed while in the United States. Moreover, F-2 spouses are prohibited from engaging in full-time studies at any level. A dependent child in F-2 status, on the other hand, may attend primary and secondary schools full-time, but may not (without changing from F-2 to F-2 status) proceed to any post-secondary schooling on a full-time basis.


Application Procedures

All categories of employment for F-1 students require the prior approval of the college or university’s international advisor. Additionally, students seeking pre- or post-completion practical training, hardship-based employment, or an internship with an international organization need to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a work permit by submitting a Form I-765, along with a fee, and an I-20 endorsed by the school within 30 days prior to applying. The student may work only after USCIS issues the work permit. When applying for post-completion OPT, the application must be submitted to USCIS before completion of studies.