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What is an F1 Visa?

What is an F1 Visa?

What is an F1 Visa?

Students in the UK often look to study abroad, with one of the most popular places being America. More than 9,000 UK students study in America and that number is likely to grow exponentially.

In order to study in the USA, you will need a Visa, however, you need a specific type of Visa called an F1 Visa. We’ve got a useful guide for you below, which tells you everything you need to know about the F1 Visa and how to get one.

What is an F1 Visa?

An F1 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for students who are looking to study in the United States. Studying or applying for an American university as an international student is impossible without an F1 Visa. An F1 Visa is also needed if you plan on attending a private school, high school, college or any other training programme or education provider, it is not exclusive to those that are looking to study at university.

How do I get an F1 Visa?

The process is simple enough, but it will take a long time. American visa issues usually take a long time to sort out at the best of times, but for an F1 Visa, there are other considerations to take into account.

The first step is to apply for an American university. Once you have done this, the university will tell you what they require from you and to see if you’re what they’re looking for academically. As with international scholarships for international students in the UK, you will need to provide proof that you can support yourself while studying without the need to work, you will also need to show health insurance, exactly the same as when you’re studying in Europe and you need to get yourself European Health Insurance.

Upon receipt of this information, the university will issue you with an I-20 form, for you to apply for your student visa.

After you have received you have filled out your I-20 form, you will need to be able to arrange an interview at the nearest US Embassy or US Consulate, and they will grant you your F1 Visa.

The university that you’re applying to must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP or SEVIS). You will need to check with the university beforehand that they have the facilities to support international students, especially if English is not your first-language.

Do I have to pay for an F1 Visa?

You will have to pay for an F1 Visa. F1 Visas tend to cost around $200, though the rate changes every year, you will also have to pay a SEVIS charge on top of the original $200. This is also referred to as the I-901 SEVIS Charge.

F1 Visa - Plane

What do I need for my interview with the American Embassy or Consulate?

There are a few things you’ll need to bring with you to your interview, such as:

  • Financial Support: You need to be able to support yourself. If you are unable to support yourself without having to work, you will be denied a visa.
  • Official Residency in a Foreign Country and Intentions to Return Home: You will need to leave the United States upon graduation as the visa is not a residency visa. If an interviewer finds believes that you wish to remain in the United States, they will deny your visa application. Essentially, you’re being asked to educate yourself in America and then apply the knowledge you’ve gained back home.
  • Admission to an Approved Education Provider: As we said above, you need to have been accepted into a university, college or high school etc that is approved by the SEVP, otherwise, your visa will be declined.
  • Connection to Your Home Nation: You will need to prove that you have strong ties to your home country. You will need to provide proof, like bank statements, bank accounts, financial information, family information and any job offers or job correspondence that you have.

As for tangible items that you will need to bring with you to your interview, you will need to bring:

  • Application fee
  • DS-160 form
  • DS-157 form (for males between 16 & 45)
  • A valid passport
  • Photo

Can I be denied an F1 Visa?

As with all visas, they can be denied if the applicant doesn’t meet the specified criteria.

Most F1 denials are based on US immigration law and with the recent travel bans implemented in the United States, plenty of students are denied access to a visa based on immigration procedures, another main reason is the failure to provide the correct paperwork when applying.

As we said above, not providing enough information on your home ties can also be grounds for rejection.

The United States operates a very strict border policy as it is, those with criminal convictions will not be granted entry to the country. If you are found to have misrepresented anything in your application, if you have a health issue that could affect other people or if you are deemed a security risk you will be turned down.

Am I able to work in the US if I have an F1 Visa?

You are able to work in the US under an F1 Visa, but as it is not a work visa, you will only be able to work full-time during holidays. In term-time, you will be restricted to twenty-hours-a-week.

That being said, you will need to speak to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and brush up on the job rules under your visa in the US. Alternatively, your campus will most likely have an International Office onsite, and you will be able to speak to them as well.

There is an alternate option regarding work for international students in the US, however. As an F1 Visa holder, you will be able to apply for work off campus for up to twelve months through the Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT can only work for students in these situations, however:

  • Part-time work during studies
  • Full-time work during holidays (or recess)
  • Are graduation, in a field of study related to your degree

If you work illegally while on an F1 Visa, your visa will be cancelled and you will be deported.

Can I transfer universities with an F1 Visa?

Of course, you can! The university itself will need to be approved by the SEVP, just as before. Transferring universities works exactly the same as changing universities in the UK, however, you will need to meet the same visa requirements, you will still need to return to your home nation when you’re done.

F1 Visa - Passports on a map

Do I have to return home as soon as I graduate?

You don’t have to return home as soon as you graduate, you can remain in the US for up to sixty days after completing your degree or your OPT training. If you wish to stay in the US after your degree, you will need to re-enroll in a higher programme or change your visa status.

If my F1 Visa is denied, can I reapply?

Yes, you can. As a rule of thumb, any reason why your first application was rejected should be resolved upon reapplying. For instance, if you did not have the correct documentation when applying, you will need to ensure that you have the correct documentation, this time around.

You can re-apply for an F1 Visa as many times as you like, and you can re-apply as soon as you receive confirmation of your rejection.

Obviously, consulate or embassy officers will check your application history, so make sure you get it right first time.

Does having a criminal record affect my chances of getting an F1 Visa?

This is a tough one as it all depends on the application itself.

Generally, as a rule of thumb, the United States does not allow anyone with a criminal record to enter the country, although there have been a number of exceptions made for this.

You may still be allowed entry to the country with a criminal record, it depends on the severity of the offences that got you a criminal record in the first place. Generally, the United States tends to make exceptions for single offences and where the sentence for the crime was less than six months.

It is also worth noting as well that passing a security check, does not mean that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is aware of your criminal record.

Lying about having a criminal conviction is grounds to have your application rejected and can cause a number of issues with immigration for the rest of your life. The best thing to do is to speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in the UK or a lawyer, before making your application. Even speaking to the American consulate or the American embassy before application is a smart move.

What if my degree is being studied in my home country and I need to study in the US as part of an exchange programme?

Then an F1 Visa is not what you need, you will need a different type of visa altogether, known as a J1 Exchange Visitor Visa, which is very different.

The F1 Visa is an easy enough visa to apply for, however, it is a very lengthy process and it can throw-up all sorts of complications, the best thing for you to do, is to be honest in your application, make sure that you have all of the necessary paperwork and as with everything in life, don’t lie.

An honest man has nothing to fear and the same is said with your visa application, as long as you have done all of the necessary research and have declared everything required of you, you should be fine, for any issues regarding the F1 Visa, speak to the CAB or to the American Consulate, the American Embassy or your own embassy or consulate for advice, they’ll be glad to help, good luck!

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