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F1 Visa

If you are an international student wishing to study in the USA, the appropriate visa category for you is the F-1 Student Visa. The F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa classification that allows international students  to travel to the USA and study a full-time degree at an institution that is authorized by the U.S. Government. 
The visa category (F) applies to students of: University, High School, Private Elementary School, Seminary,  Conservatory and other academic institutions including language schools.
Benefits & Restrictions
How to apply


F-1 visa eligibility requirements can vary depending on the embassy the student is applying from, but the general requirements for the visa are as follows:

- Be currently enrolled in an “academic” educational program, within an institution                 approved by the US Government (Student and Exchange Visitors Program- SEVP,                 Immigration & Customs Enforcement).
- Be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution.
- Proof of proficiency in English or be proof of enrollment in courses leading to English         proficiency.
- Possess sufficient funds for self-support throughout the entire proposed duration of         studies.
- Maintain a residence in your home country (or place  of permanent residence) Which          you have no intention of giving up. (Being able to provide proof of  this at your                    embassy interview is vital.)
Typical Visa application form and blue pen on paper calendar page


At the U.S. Embassy Interview, you will be required to bring certain documentation with you. See the following:

A Valid Passport (should be valid for at least 6 months after your departure from the USA).

A printed copy of the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form, confirmation page.

A printed copy of the Embassy Appointment confirmation.

Receipt of the Embassy Fee Payment.

Receipt of the I-901 SEVIS Fee Payment.

A Photograph (unless you have already uploaded your photo successfully to the DS-160 application).

Your Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) visa status: Form I-20

Benefits & Restrictions

What are the benefits of the F1 visa? 

The F-1 visa allows you to travel to the USA and reside there throughout the duration of your educational program.

You will be entitled for a 60 day “grace period” during which you can travel within the country as you please.

The F-1 visa also allows you to engage in a CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and/or an OPT (Optional Practical Training). These are officially defined as temporary employment that is directly related to the applicant’s field of study and can be done during your studies or after your studies (respectively).

American higher education institutions are recognized worldwide and are some of the leading schools worldwide. Students have the best resources available to complete their studies.

The high standard of service culture, booming hospitality industry and huge mix of cultures make it the perfect place for hospitality professionals to gain soft skills.

This visa category also allows you to apply for a change of visa status, should your circumstances in the USA change.

The F-1 visa allows you to bring spouses or children to the USA on a dependent visa.

Restrictions of the J1 visa to be aware of:

F-1 visa holders must depart the USA a maximum of 60 days after the ending date of their study program, stated on the Form I-20.

You are allowed to enter the USA a maximum of 30 days before the start of your intended study program.

To maintain your visa status, you must maintain at least the minimum required course load as well as passing grades and a full time student status at your academic institution.

The F-1 visa does not allow you to work in the USA. But this visa category does provide the option to pursue on-campus work as well as curricular practical training. But for these aforementioned exceptions, you may be required to apply for a separate visa such as the OPT.


How to apply

The application process for the F-1 visa is less complex than some of the other visa application processes, but despite this, does require some time and specific documentation to complete successfully. In addition, to apply for this type of visa, an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required.

The visa application process includes:

Enroll in a SEVP-approved school within the USA.

Once the school has accepted your enrollment, you will be registered to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and will be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee (registration fee).

Once the payment has been made, your school will issue you the Form I-20.

After you have received your Form I-20, you will be able to book your embassy interview for the student (F) visa, at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Fill in the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form.

Payment of Embassy Appointment fee.

Booking and attending an Embassy Appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DS-160?

The DS-160 is your Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form. This is a multi-page online application form on the U.S. Government website. You will need to fill in and submit this application in order to apply for your visa and book your Embassy Appointment. You will also be required to make the non-refundable Visa Application or Appointment Fee.

What is an Embassy Appointment?

All applicants of the F-1 visa category must attend an embassy appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This interview will be conducted with an embassy officer, who will ultimately decide if your visa will be granted. You must bring all required documents with you to the Embassy and answer the questions asked by the embassy officer in order to support your visa application.

What is the Form I-20?

The Form I-20 is the official Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS is the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is the official government database for all students and exchange visitors. This system maintains records of all nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors and their studies and training, while in the USA. All official information regarding your program is registered in this system by your academic institution.

What supporting documents should I bring to my embassy appointment?

To support your visa application at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you will be required to attend an embassy appointment before being able to obtain the F-1 visa. In addition to the required documentation, there are certain supporting documents which you will need to bring with you to the appointment to support your application and prove your intent to leave the USA after your studies. See the following documents:

    - Proof of Foreign Residence: Applicants for the F-1 visa must have proof of foreign residence in their home country or country of permanent residence.
    - Proof of Financial Resources: Your own bank statements proving sufficient funds to support yourself throughout the course of your stay in the USA. In the case that another person is supporting you financially, you will need to bring a copy of their bank statement and a letter from this individual stating that they will support you financially.
    - Proof of Academics: Transcripts, Diplomas, or certificates from institutions you have attended in the past.
    - Proof of English Level: Any documentation proving your level of English from an accredited international language proficiency test, such as IELTS or TOEFL (if applicable).

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