F-1 Visa for the US

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding F-1 visa in the USA
  2. Who needs an F-1 visa for the USA?
  3. Eligibility criteria for an F-1 visa
  4. What are the documents required for an F-1 visa for the USA?
  5. How to apply for an F1 visa?
  6. How is the F-1 visa interview for international students?
  7. What are the common questions asked in the F-1 visa interview?
  8. Frequently asked questions

Congratulations on your decision to study in the US! While you get ready with relevant academic and financial documents, it is crucial to obtain an F-1 visa on time for full-time study in the US. The process is lengthy, and you need to be perfectly prepared to clear the visa interview. 

An F-1 visa is your ticket to the US for recognized study and stay for the course duration plus one or two years. F-1 programs in various subjects are the ones most often chosen by international students in the US for academic and career purposes.

Understanding F-1 Visa in the USA

The F-1 visa allows international students to pursue full-time studies in the US at an accredited university, college, or any academic institution or to enroll in a language training program. 

  • The institution of your study must be authorized by the US government to accept international students
  • At the end of your study, you must obtain a degree, diploma, or course-completion certificate

Who needs an F-1 Visa for the USA?

An f-1 visa is required for those who plan to study in the US for full-time courses. Note that an F-1 visa is not required to pursue vocational training programs in America. Conversely, the following is a list of people who need an F-1 visa to the US: 

  • Regular undergraduate students
  • Regular MS students
  • Students enrolled in intensive language training programs

Eligibility criteria for an F-1 Visa

There is no age limit to apply for an F-1 visa for the US. To be eligible for an F-1 visa, the following requirements have to be met.

  • You must submit proof of enrollment to a full-time study program in the US, such as an offer letter or Form I-20. 
  • You must have an English language proficiency certificate, such as the IELTS, TOEFL< PTE, Duolingo, etc. 
  • You must have sufficient funds to finance your study costs in the US
  • You need to maintain a residence in your home country with no intention of giving up

What are the documents required for an F-1 visa for the USA?

Proper documentation is crucial in your F-1 visa application process. To apply for an F-1 visa, you need to submit the following documents in the right format: 

  • A valid passport copy
  • Recent photo used for passport application
  • Copy of DS-160
  • Copy of SEVIS fee receipt
  • Form I-20
  • Academic transcripts (Degree, +2. SSLC certificates)
  • Proof of finances

How to apply for an F1 visa?

Here is the step-by-step guide to apply for an F-1 visa from India:

  • Get an acceptance from a SEVP-certified institution in the US: A SEVP-certified institution is recognized by the government for international student enrollment. Make sure your institution of study is recognized by the government.
  • Receive your Form I-20: Once your acceptance is confirmed, the university will send you Form I-20, detailing the SEVIS ID, program start and end dates, funding sources, etc. The Form i-20 is crucial to apply for an F-1 visa. 
  • Pay your SEVIS fee: Pay your SEVIS fee, which is 350 USD for F-1 visa applicants. Keep the receipt as it is required for the visa application. 
  • Complete your DS-160 visa application: Complete your DS-160 form and get the printout with a barcode on it. You will be asked to submit it while attending the US student visa interview.
  • Schedule your visa interview: Once you have arranged all the required documents, schedule your US visa interview online. Find the nearest US embassy or consulate to schedule your interview.

How is the F-1 visa interview for international students?

The primary aim of the interview is to assess the eligibility of the student to pursue studies in the US. The visa officer will be asking questions to check whether the student adheres to the conditions for the F-1 visa. 

Duration of an F-1 visa interview: 90 seconds to 3 minutes

At the US visa interview, you need to bring the following documents with you: 

  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Appointment confirmation page
  • A valid passport 
  • Form I-20 

What are the common questions asked in the F-1 visa interview?

The consular officer will be asking specific questions to check your eligibility to study in the US with an F-1 student visa. You need to prepare for questions regarding your personal and academic plans, such as your reasons for attending a US university, your plans after completing your course, etc. Remember, your answers must show them you plan a return to your home country once the course is completed. 

We can divide the common questions asked into 5 categories: 

  • Your study plans: The visa officer will be asking questions regarding your study plans to understand the details of your study in the US, such as those given below: 
    • What made you want to study in the USA? 
    • What do you plan to study in the US? 
    • How does your course align with your interests? 
  • Your selection of a US university: You will be asked questions regarding your selection of a specific university. Prepare well to answer them with reason, just like you cater in your SOP. Some of the sample questions are given below: 
    • Why did you choose this specific university in the US? 
    • Where is your university located?
    • Which were the universities you applied for admission to? 
  • Your academic capabilities: You can expect questions about your academic abilities and scores to test your learning potential, as given below: 
    • What are your entrance test scores? 
    • Can you present your academic transcripts? 
    • What is your English proficiency? 
  • Your financial sources: It is crucial for the visa officer to ensure every student has enough finances to study in the US. Your financial resource can be an education loan, self-funding, sponsorship, etc. Some common questions regarding your funding option are given below: 
    • How do you plan to sponsor your studies in the US? 
    • Who is your sponsor to study in the US? 
  • Your plans to return to your home country: Before approving the F-1 visa, the visa officer confirms that the student has no plans to stay back in the US after studies. While answering questions related to your home country, ensure you show strong ties with your home country. You may expect questions like those listed below: 
    • What are your plans after studying in the US? 
    • Do you have friends or relatives in the US? 
    • Are you planning to return to your home country after completing studies in the US? 

Before you gear up for an F-1 visa, check the eligibility requirements, documents, application process, and interview insights presented on this blog. Your responsibility is getting your F-1 visa on time without any hassle, and we are happy to be your companion on that. 

In case you struggle with finding a financial source, get guidance in exploring minimal-interest education loan options from our expert counselors. We will help you in the whole journey of studying in the US, starting from university shortlisting to SOP assistance, US student visa guidance, education loan options, accommodation in the US, and so on. 

Ready for your F-1 visa adventure? Navigate with a click!

Frequently asked questions

When will I get my F-1 visa after attending the interview? 

If your visa application is approved, 5 – 7 working days are required to process it, and 2 – 3 or more days to get it delivered to you. So, approximately, it takes 10 – 15 days to get your F-1 visa after your interview. 

What is the validity of an F-1 visa? 

An F-1 visa is valid up to 5 years from the date of issuance. 

What is the total cost of an F-1 visa? 

The total cost of an F-1 visa includes a non-refundable fee (known as MRV fee) of 185 USD and a SEVIS fee of 350 USD. Apart from the fees, you need to show the cost of the study mentioned on your Form I – 20. 

Is IELTS compulsory for an F-1 visa? 

Clearing an English proficiency test is compulsory for an F-1 visa. The popular English entrances for the US include the IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, Duolingo, etc. 

How is the F-2 visa related to the F-1 visa? 

An F-2 visa is issued for those who accompany an F-1 visa holder in the US. For example, if you hold an F-1 visa, your spouse or children can get an F-2 visa.

What is the 5-month rule for an F-1 visa? 

The 5-month rule applies when a student is continuously outside the US without obtaining formal approval for early withdrawal from the course. The 5-month rule states that a student loses the F-1 visa holder status if he/she resides for more than 5 months outside the US during the period of study.