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Phone: (949) 540-6704 Toll-Free: (800) 242-2151

Legal Representation That You Can Trust

Orange County Student Visa Lawyers

Visa Application

The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which annually allows hundreds of thousands of foreigners from around the world to come to the United States to study. Because of security concerns since the September 11, 2001 terrorist acts (“the September 11th events”), the United States has added requirements for admission in F-1 status, and there is now greater monitoring of the status of F-1 students. Therefore F-1 applicants must be careful to follow all application procedures and, following admission, carefully abide by all academic and immigration rules.

Changes in the F-1 Program

One major change since the September 11th events is that tourists on B-2 visas may no longer apply for a change of status to F-1 classification. Now all nonimmigrants intending to study in the United States must apply for an F-1 visa from their country of origin or residence. Another change, meant to enhance national security, is the development of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (“SEVIS”), which is a database system that tracks the status of F-1 students. Student visa applicants must register in the SEVIS program after arrival in the United States, and schools are required to provide student information into the system. The government has also developed more thorough security checks both at U.S. Consulates and at ports of entry. These additional security procedures have slowed the visa process.

Basic F-1 Requirements

Requirements for an F-1 visa include the following:

  • The applicant must overcome a presumption of immigrant intent. This rule requires the applicant to establish that his or her intent is to come to the United States to pursue a full-time course of study and not to remain in the United States permanently or take up employment.
  • The applicant must demonstrate that he or she has sufficient funds to cover both tuition and living expenses during the period of intended study. Generally, this requirement can be met with evidence showing the applicant has funds immediately available to cover the first year’s costs, and that funds will be available for all subsequent years.
  • The evidence must establish that the applicant is qualified to pursue a full-time course of study in the United States. This requirement can be met with the submission of test scores, grades, and evidence showing the applicant is admitted to the U.S. school.

To obtain an F-1 visa, applicants must submit applications and documentation to both the school they will attend and a U.S. Consulate.

An F-1 applicant must complete the following steps:

  • Apply for admission to a United States school. The student must locate a school that accepts foreign students and apply for admission.
  • After admission, the student must obtain a bar coded SEVIS Form I-20 from the school.
  • Schedule an F-1 visa interview with the student’s U.S. Consulate. All applicants for an F-1 visa must personally appear for an interview at the Consulate.
  • Among other documents, the visa applicant must submit to the Consulate the following:
    • Forms DS-156, DS-157 (in most cases), and DS-158. The Form DS-156 must now be completed online in accord with the Consulate’s instructions;
    • Form I-20;
    • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay;
    • Passport-style photo (check the Embassy to determine if one or two photos are required);
    • Evidence of sufficient funds. This evidence may include bank statements, income tax returns, chartered account statements, employment letters, and property documents, among other evidence;
    • Application fees;
    • Evidence to rebut the presumption of immigrant intent;
    • At some Consulates, if the applicant is intending to study science, engineering, or high technology, a detailed research proposal of study or research plans in the U.S. may be required; and
    • All other documents required by the particular Consulate.

Following the issuance of an F-1 visa, the applicant must apply for F-1 status at a United States airport or other port of entry. The applicant must present the Form I-20 to the admission officer and answer all questions concerning the applicant’s intent to study in the United States. Thereafter, the student’s school will report information about the applicant’s studies to immigration officials through the SEVIS program.

If you or someone you know is need of immigration law services, please do not hesitate to call Garg & Associates at 281-362-2865 for a consultation today or use our Contact Form.