Understanding Financial Requirements for F-1 Visa Students

If you are planning to apply for an F-1 Student Visa, or are already studying in the USA on an F-1 Visa, it is very important that you understand the financial requirements associated with this type of non-immigrant visa. This article will answer some of the questions that you may have regarding the financial requirements for international students in the USA.

(Author: Richard McDorman)

What basic information do international students need to know about their financial requirements?

One of the most important requirements for qualifying for an F-1 (student) visa is demonstrating to the school you are applying to, as well as to the United States government, that you have the financial ability to pay for your educational program.

Before your school can legally issue you a Form I-20, you must provide adequate documentation that either you or your sponsor (the person or business who promises to pay for your expenses) has sufficient available funds to pay not only the cost of tuition and fees charged by your school, but also all of the necessary living expenses you will incur while studying in the United States. Necessary living expenses include things like housing (usually rent or homestay costs), utilities (electricity and water if not already included in your rent), food and transportation, but do not include luxuries or unnecessary services, such as cable television or a gym membership.

Your school will inform you of the total cost of attendance for your program at the time you apply. This is the amount of money you or your sponsor must have available when you submit your application. Keep in mind that in most cases, F-1 students are not permitted to work while studying in the United States, so all their educational and living expenses must be paid from pre-existing funds.

What financial documentation are international students required to provide?

You, or your sponsor, must provide your school with a bank statement or a certified bank letter proving that you (or your sponsor) possess sufficient available funds to cover the total cost of attendance of your program. However, the bank where the funds are kept does not have to be in the United States. The bank statement or certified bank letter must be dated and have been issued within the past six months. If the bank account is in your sponsor’s name, then your sponsor must also provide the school with a signed and dated letter of support attesting to the fact that he or she will provide you with all the funds you will need to pay for your total cost of attendance.

If your sponsor resides in the United States, then the letter of support must be notarized. However, even if your sponsor resides outside the United States, it is still a good idea for the letter of support to be notarized, as the official at the U.S. embassy or consulate who makes the final decision on your visa application may find this reassuring. Finally, both the bank statement or certified bank letter, and the letter of support (if applicable) must be in English. If either is in another language, then you must also provide a certified English translation.

Let us know if you have any more questions about the financial requirements for F-1 Visa Students.

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