What is an F-1 Student Visa?
After you gained acceptance to La Salle and were issued a valid I-20 form you became eligible for an F-1 visa to enter the United States as a full-time student. Unless you have a special circumstance or a relationship that allows you to study under another type of visa, you are considered an F-1 student.
Under U.S. law, an F-1 student is a non-immigrant studying full-time at a government-approved institution like La Salle University to attain an educational or professional objective such as a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree. Once you have obtained your degree or certifications the U.S. government expects you to return to your home country unless you have received special authorization from the government to continue residing in the U.S.
How to Obtain an F-1 Visa
Due to increased security concerns in the United States, especially for citizens from countries in sensitive areas, the requirements for obtaining an F-1 visa vary widely from country to country. Please consult the United States Consulate in your home country or in the country you plan to apply for your visa for specific details about requirements. The following checklist includes all the information that may be required from you when you appear for a visa interview at a U.S. consulate. Students are unable to apply for a visa more than 120 days prior to the I-20 start date.
How to Obtain an F-1 Visa: Required Documents Checklist
At your interview for an F-1 visa, U.S. consular officials may expect you to have the following information:
- Form SEVIS I-20 completed and signed by the DSO of La Salle University
- Receipt of paying the SEVIS fee: http://www.fmjfee.com/
- Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses-bank statements, letters of responsibility from parents or sponsors in the U.S. credit card statements,etc. Please try to use the same information you shared with La Sale to gain acceptance to the university.
- Evidence of sufficient English ability-TOEFL scores, transcripts or certificate of completion from an English program, etc.
- Evidence of intent to depart U.S. after studies-personal letter stating your future goals of returning after program completion, letter from home sponsor or parent explaining the purpose of your studies and your eventual return, etc.
- Form DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Passport style photograph, visit http://travel.state.gov/visa/visaphotoreq/visaphotoreq_5334.html
- Academic Transcripts-English translations
- Visa fees (if applicable) visit Fees for Visa Services and Reciprocity by Country for more information
Most sources say it is quicker and easier for students to apply for visas from their home country.
Applying in a Country other than your home country
International student are RARELY allowed to apply for F-1 visas from another country besides their home country if the U.S. Consulate in that country is authorized to process nonimmigrant visa applications from third country nationals. Confirm that the U.S Consulate http://www.usembassy.gov/ outside your home country will process your visa application beforehand.
Often, it is recommended that the student have some reason for
being in the country like studying or working. Also note that the visa
process will take longer to process because the consular officials will have
to verify all parts of the application with the student’s home country.
International students who have not maintained status or overstayed their
visas are prohibited from applying for visas outside their home country.
When to Apply
An F-1 visa cannot be issued more than 120 days prior to the start date on the I-20. An I-20 can be issued by the school as soon as the student is accepted and the financial documentation is adequately submitted. A student can apply for an F-1 visa more than 120 days prior to the I-20 start date, however the visa will not be issued until it is 120 days or less before the I-20 start date.
When to enter the US
A student cannot enter the US more than 30 days prior to the I-20 start date. Please refer to your I-20 to find your start date. It is located in section 5.