The F1 visa is a type of nonimmigrant US student visa that allows foreign nationals to study in the United States. An F1 student visa is intended for students who wish to attend an academic program or English Language Program at a US college or university. F1 students can stay in the US as long as they are enrolled in a private elementary school, high school, college, university, seminary, conservatory, or any other accredited academic institution. F1 student visa holders must maintain full-time student status and are eligible to work part-time for up to 20 hours per week on-campus.
F1 Visa Application Process
Once the F1 visa applicant has registered for an accredited academic program in the US, he/she may apply for an F1 visa by following the below steps.
- Complete Form DS-160. To complete the online visa application, you must fill out Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. You will be required to upload a photo that meets the Photograph Requirements. Be sure to print the application form confirmation page; you must bring this to your visa interview.
- Schedule an Interview. After completing Form DS-160, schedule an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. Interviews are generally not required for applicants 13 years and younger or 80 years and older.
- Pay Fees. If required, you may have to pay the fees before your interview. F1 visa application fee is USD $160. A visa issuance fee may also apply depending on your nationality.
Application fees are non-refundable. If the applicant’s visa is not approved, the $160 application fee will not be refunded.
- Gather Required Documents. Be sure to bring all required documents to the student visa interview, as outlined below.
- Attend Visa Interview. During the F1 visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to receive a visa. The applicant must establish that he/she meets the requirements under US law to receive the visa. When the visa is approved, the applicant will be informed of how to collect his/her passport with the F1 visa.
F1 Visa Interview Documents
The following documents are required to apply for an F1 visa and must be brought to the visa interview.
- Passport valid for travel to the US and valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay in the US
- Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, confirmation page
- Payment receipt of F1 visa application fee (if required to pay before the interview)
- Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F1) Student Status For Academic and Language Students, or Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M1) Student Status for Vocational Students. The school will send the F1 applicant a SEVIS-generated Form I-20, which must be signed by the applicant and the school official.
Additional documentation may also be requested to establish that the applicant is qualified for an F1 student visa. F1 visa applicants may be required to provide evidence of the following.
- Academic preparation, such as
- Transcripts, diplomas, degrees or certificates from schools; and
- Standardized test scores required by US school;
- Intent to depart the US upon completion of the course of study; and
- Documents supporting financial background, proving how the applicant will pay all educational, living, and travel costs incurred.
Where to Apply for F1 Visa
F1 student visa applicants must apply at the US Embassy or Consulate nearest their residence. To locate your nearest US Embassy or Consulate, visit Find a US Embassy or Consulate.
For more information about applying for a US visa, read about the US Visa Application Process.
For more information about the F1 visa, visit our other student visa pages.