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FAQ: U.S. F-1 Student Visas


Q. I am not living in my home country. Can I apply somewhere else?

A. The U.S. consulates in each country of the world make the decision about whether or not a visa applicant must be in his/her own country in order to apply for a visa. However, the general custom is that an international student will be allowed to apply for a visa in countries other than his/her own. We recommend you check with the U.S. consulate in the country you are residing to make sure they will allow you to apply. We have seen applicants denied the visa because they did not check on this ruling first.

Q. What is a Student Visa?

A. For more information on student visas, go to F-1 visa articles.

Q. What is SEVIS?

A. SEVIS is the Homeland Security Database. Homeland Security is now requiring F-1 students to pay a $200 SEVIS fee before the student can apply for the visa. Students will need a receipt showing payment of the fee before they can go to the visa interview.

Q. How do I pay the SEVIS fee?

A. Students can go to www.fmjfee.com and apply on line using a credit card which is the fastest way to make this payment. Students will receive an e-mail receipt which they will take to the consulate office at the time of their visa interviews.

Q. I don't have a credit card. How can I pay for the fee online?

A. Your agent or the school can assist you in paying the SEVIS fee. Please contact us at or an authorized agency in your home country.

Q. Can my spouse or children accompany me to the US?

A. A spouse will be allowed to apply for a visa to accompany the student. The spouse (with children) may apply at the same time the student applies, or may wait for several months to apply until after the student arrives in the U.S. and gets settled. The spouse will need to show additional financial support or a bank statement with sufficient additional money to support him/herself (and children) when accompanying the student spouse to the U.S. Most schools need an additional $6,000 per dependent.

Q. What is required in order to bring my spouse and family?

A. In order for your spouse and/or children to accompany you, the university must issue a separate I-20 form. Your family can apply for an F-2 (dependant) visa. The university will need the following information for each family member (including spouse): full name, date of birth, country of birth, and country of citizenship. The schools will also require birth certificates for children, marriage license, and copies of all dependent passports.

Q. Will I be able to obtain a student visa to go to the U.S. to study if I have already applied for Diversity Immigrant Lottery and have been denied?

A. A student visa is a temporary visa in which the applicant must prove his/her intent to return to the home country after graduation. Anything in the student's background that suggests that the student's real intent is not to return to his/her home country may cause the application to be rejected. So, especially in the case of an applicant who has previously applied for the "lottery" immigrant visa, the visa officer may view that application as an absolute indication of the intent to immigrate (rather than to study). Consequently, getting a student visa may be much more difficult for such a person.

Q. Do I need permission from Immigration Services in order to work off campus?

A. Students will have an F-1 student visa and, by the nature of the university's work-study (co-op) program, which requires internship employment, no further permission is required by the Immigration Service. Once the student finds employment that is certified to be "curriculum related," the university will issue the appropriate authorization signature allowing the student to begin working. Students will also need to obtain the U.S. Social Security card before being allowed to legally work.

Q. Can I take a break during summer quarter to return to my country then return back to school for fall quarter?

A. Most schools will allow a school break. Students must attend school full time for 2 consecutive semesters (9 months and 18 credit hours) before they are eligible to take a vacation from their studies. However, some schools do not have summer breaks scheduled into their curriculum.

Q. If my visa is valid for only 2 years, will I need to get it extended before it expires?

A. Having a 2 year visa does not mean that you have to go back to your home country at the end of two years. Rather, you can stay for as long as necessary beyond the two years in order to finish your education in the U.S. The length of the visa limits how long you have to cross the border into the U.S

Q. I am already in the US on a B-1 visa. Can I change to F-1 student visa?

A. If you are going to change to F-1, which you need to do in order to get into the paid internship program at the university, you can either return to your home country and apply for the F-1 visa or stay in the U.S. and apply for a visa status change. If you are in the U.S. and apply for a change of status to F-1 it can take several weeks of waiting while the immigration service processes your application. But if you take your I-20 form from the university to the consulate in your home country and apply for an F-1 student visa, the decision can me made immediately by the visa officials there. Then there will be no delay in your starting school and your paid internship job.

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