For many young students harboring an American dream to study abroad, securing a visa is a necessary rite of passage. There are mainly three types of visa offered by the US, namely the F, M and J visas. In this blog, we will discuss the requisites and characteristics of the F1 visa which is ideal for candidates approved to engage in exchange visitor services in the United States. If you plan to enroll for an undergraduate or graduate program in the US, the F1 Visa is for you. In this article, we will cover all the essential requisites for an F1 visa.
What is an F1 visa?
Typically, a F1 visa is given by a US college or university to international students enrolled in an educational program or English Language Program. F1 visa applicants must secure the minimum course load for full-time student status. If you have applied for and have been accepted under the OPT Scheme, you will remain in the United States for up to 2 months after your academic program is completed. F1 Visa applicants are required to complete their studies on the I-20 form, issued by the university to which the student has been admitted and will attend, by the expiration date. An F1 visa is also required if you plan to attend a private school, college, high school, or any other training program or education provider; it is not exclusive to those looking to study at a university.
How to get an F1 Visa?
The procedure is not that difficult, although it can be substantially time-consuming. American visa issues typically take a long time to sort out at the best of times; however, for an F1 Visa, there are other considerations to contemplate.
- The first step is to apply to an American university. Post-application, the university will inform you about what they require from you and verify if your academic credentials fit the bill.
- You will also need to furnish health insurance documents. This step is in line with the steps aligned for studying in Europe; in both instances you need to get yourself a European Health Insurance provider.
- After receiving the above information, the university will issue you an I-20 form to apply for the Student Visa.
- Post this, you will need to arrange an interview at the nearest US Consulate or US Embassy, and they will grant you the F1 Visa.
You should check with the university beforehand to support international students, especially if your first language is not English.
What is an F1 Visa interview?
Now we know the process of applying for a US visa, let us get it into the interview questions. An F1 student visa for the US can be issued within up to 120 days in advance of the course of the study start date. You will only enter the USA with an F1 visa 30 days before the course commences.
Some documents are required for your F1 visa interview; these include:
- A passport photo.
- The application fee payment receipt.
- A valid passport.
- The non-immigrant visa application, Form DS-160.
- An eligibility certificate for non-immigrant (F1) Student Status (from 1-20).
Additional documents may also be requested for proving your eligibility for the F1 student visa, including academic transcripts, certificates, degrees, or diplomas. Test scores such as SAT, GRE, or TOEFL may also be requested, and proof of the intent of coming to the US.
What to expect from the F1 visa interview?
Your interview will be done in English and take place in front of a Visa officer at a US consulate or Embassy. The discussion is typically straightforward and quick and may only last for around 5 minutes. The questions you will be asked during the interview may vary but usually concern your chosen academic course, university, finances, post-graduation plans, and choice of university.
What are the possible F1 Visa interview questions?
Your interviewer will be interested in knowing your reasons for choosing the United States for securing a university education, what you plan to study in the United States, and more. These questions will be similar to the questions on the university application essays. The most common F1 visa interview questions will be around the following:
- Why do you want to study at this university or college?
- Do you have relatives living in the United States?
- Why do you want to study in the US?
- Who will finance your education?
- What are your plans after graduation?
What happens after the F1 Visa interview?
Your visa interview will have one of the three outcomes:
- Visa has been rejected,
- Visa has been accepted
- Visa has been kept on hold under administrative processing.
If the visa is accepted, your passport will be retained by the visa officer, and it may take about 1-2 weeks for your visa to get stamped on the passport and arrive home.
If your visa is denied, your passport will be returned to you immediately, and you may need to book another appointment and interview with a different visa officer who may approve your visa.
Lastly, if your visa is placed under administrative processing, your passport is retained and sent to the biometrics center, where you are required to provide more documents, after which your visa will be stamped, and your passport returned to you. At this stage, you will be asked to pay a visa issuance fee. Digital fingerprint scans will be taken for records. You will be taken to receive your visa, and you will be informed when you get it back, either in the mail or pick-up.
Your interview will determine whether you are eligible for receiving an F1 student visa for the US. If you have prepared the proper documents and fulfilled all the requirements, your visa will be approved at the consular officer's discretion. Bear in mind that the F1 visa issuance is not guaranteed. Never make travel plans until your visa is approved; if your visa is rejected, you will be provided with a reason based on the section of the law which applies to the ineligibility. Filing a refusal of ineligibility is possible, but only in the rarest of cases.