What are the main steps required to obtain an F-1 Student Visa from abroad ?
In order to receive an F-1 Student Visa by the United States government, non-immigrants must first meet specific legal requirements and complete a series of required steps. Before a non-immigrant can apply for an F-1 Student Visa, the person must first be accepted by an SEVP-approved academic or language school, such as Language On English Schools.
One of the fundamental admission requirements for international students is the demonstrated ability to pay for all costs of attendance, which includes not only the tuition and fees charged by the school, but also the living expenses (such as housing and food) that will be incurred while studying in the United States.
In order to demonstrate the ability to pay for the entire cost of attendance, the student (or his or her sponsor) must submit financial evidence, such as bank statements or a certified bank letter, to the school.
This evidence must establish that the student (or his or her sponsor) has access to the entire cost of attendance at the time of application.
Whenever possible, this information should be submitted in English.
After being accepted by an SEVP-approved academic institution or language school, the student will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, also known as SEVIS. Once this occurs, the school will issue the student a Form I-20 (“Certificate of Eligibility”).
The student must then pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, which is currently $200 (note: this fee is charged by and paid to the United States government, not the school at which the non-immigrant seeks enrollment).
The student’s SEVIS number, which appears on the Form I-20, must be provided when paying the SEVIS I-901 fee.
After paying the SEVIS I-901 fee, the student must formally request the F-1 visa from the United States government by completing and submitting a non-immigrant visa application, officially known as Form DS-160 (stay tuned for a future blog post all about how to complete and submit this form).
The DS-160 application can be completed online and requires payment of another fee (separate from the SEVIS I-901 fee) to the United States government.
After completing the Form DS-160, the student can then schedule the mandatory visa interview at a United States embassy or consulate in his or her home country.
The final step in the process is attending the visa interview.
The interview will determine whether or not the student is ultimately issued the F-1 Student Visa by the United States government.
Assuming that the student has submitted all of the required documents and has satisfied the embassy or consular official that he or she meets all of the F-1 visa requirements, the visa application will be approved at the discretion of the embassy or consular official.
However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the United States government will issue an F-1 Student Visa to any particular individual.
*For this reason, it is important for students not to make final travel plans (such as purchasing non-refundable airline tickets) until after the visa is officially approved.