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How to Apply
F-1 visa status may be obtained by making an application directly to a Consular Officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or, if the applicant is in the U.S. in lawful status, by submitting an application to INS to change his/her status to that of a student. In either case, the applicant must first be accepted at a school that is authorized by the INS to accept foreign students. Such schools may include established colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, other academic institutions, or language programs in the United States. The requirements for application vary somewhat depending whether the prospective student applies while abroad, or while physically present in the United States.
To apply for F-1 visa status abroad, the prospective student must submit the following documents to a U.S. Consular Officer:
- Form OF-156, Application for Nonimmigrant Visa
- A valid passport
- Form I-20, documenting that the alien has been accepted for a course of study by a school authorized by the INS to accept foreign students
- Evidence of financial support sufficient to meet the student’s needs during the course of study
- Evidence of intention to return to his/her home country upon the completion of the course of study
Duration of Visa
F-1 visa status will be granted for the period of time, or duration of stay required to complete the course of study. The student's Form I-120 will be notated with the expected date of completion of the student's program. If the student fails to meet the program completion date, an extension may be granted if the school certifies that the delay was caused by compelling medical or academic reasons such as illness, or changes in the student's major or research topic.