F-1 Visa Program

The F-1 Visa Program enables foreign students to attend American colleges, universities, high schools, private elementary schools, seminary schools, conservatories, and other academic institutions, including language training programs.

What does the F-1 Visa offer?

Beginning in 1959, the F-1 visa has helped extend educational opportunities in the United States to millions and applicants the chance to bring their spouse or family with them for their stay. Here are a few of the biggest benefits offered by the F-1 program:

  • Education from an American college, university, high school, private elementary school, seminary school, conservatory, or other academic institutions like language programs.
  • The ability for an applicant to bring themselves, their spouse, and their immediate family.
  • The applicant can work up to 20 hours a week in an on-campus employment position.

FAQs About the F-1 Visa Program

How long does it take to process an F-1 Visa?

An F-1 visa application can vary in how long it will take. Some may be completed in as soon as a week, while others may remain in processing for a few months. However, F-1 visas also come with the possibility of being approved up to 365 days in advance, meaning you can get ahead of the process by nearly a year!

Working on an F-1 Visa

The F-1 visa also permits students to work in the U.S. through specific programs. One such program is Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows students to gain practical experience in their field of study. Students can work up to 12 months full-time while studying or after they complete their academic program. Another program is Curricular Practical Training (CPT) which enables students to work as an integral part of an established curriculum, like an internship or cooperative education program.

One of the most important features of the F-1 visa is that it allows for on-campus employment. Students can work up to 20 hours per week during regular full-time quarters or semesters, and full-time during breaks. Also, to ensure that new students start their education on time, you can receive your visa up to 365 days before their start date. Visas for continuing students can be issued at any time during their stay.

If an applicant is interested in moving to the U.S. permanently, they can also apply for a PERM or EB-3 Visa during their stay. The PERM visa is an excellent way to ensure that a student can get their education and citizenship at the same time!

How much will I need to pay for my F-1 Visa?

  • SEVIS I-901 Fee: $200
  • Form DS-160 fee: $160
  • Biometrics fee: $85
  • Visa issuance fee: costs will vary on nation of origin
  • Certified translations: costs can vary
  • Costs of standardized tests: costs will vary

How long does an F-1 Visa last?

An F-1 visa has a validity period of up to five years. However, the duration of stay is not strictly confined to this period. Students are admitted under the Duration of Status (D/S) provision, which allows them to stay in the U.S. for the entire duration of their academic program. In addition, they can arrive in the U.S. up to 30 days before the start of their academic program and can also stay for up to 60 days beyond the end of their program.


Can an Applicant bring their family with them during my stay?

Yes, the F-1 Visa permits an applicant to bring their spouse and unmarried, minor children, with them to the United States for the duration of their stay. However, you will need to secure an F-2 or M-2 visa, and your school must issue them an individual Form I-20.

What academic institutions allow for F-1 Visa students?

Limitations on the F-1 visa are few but are very important to understand. The applicant must be seeking an education at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school. These can vary but include colleges, universities, high schools, private elementary schools, seminary schools, conservatories, and other academic institutions, including language training programs.

The Application Process

While applicants at or below the age of 13 and above or at the age of 80 will not typically require interviews, applicants in the age range of 14-79 are required to attend an interview at a U.S. Consulate Office. These can be found throughout the world, but to help you find yours, check out the Department of State’s list and find your nearest location.

Contact AW Labor Solutions today to learn more about the F-1 visa program.

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