F-1 International Student Visas

F-1 visas give non-immigrant, international students the opportunity to study and, with certain restrictions, work in the United States. This type of visa permits an applicant to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or in a language training program. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to qualify for an F-1 visa, international students must meet the following criteria.

  • Students must be enrolled in an "academic" educational program or language-training program. Students must remain enrolled with the academic institution they applied to for their F-1 visa, or else they must reapply when switching institutions.
  • The school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program and Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
  • Students must be enrolled as full-time at the institution.
  • Students must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
  • Students must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study.
  • Students must maintain a residence abroad in which they have no intention of giving up. This can be shown by producing bank account statements, a job offer once studies are finished, or family located in the applicant's home country.
Proof of Sufficient Funds

Applicants must demonstrate to the USCIS or local United States embassy officer that they have sufficient funds to pay their costs of living in the United States and their tuition without working. Sufficient funds can be demonstrated by the applicants or through sponsorship, but the documents provided must meet certain requirements.

  • All documents must be dated within 6 months of the start date of the academic program.
  • All documents must be in English or with an official translation.
  • All bank statements and bank letters must be on bank letterhead and include full account information.
  • The name of the sponsor must match the name of the bank account holder on the bank statements or letter.
  • All funds must be easily accessible and liquid, such as savings or checking accounts.
  • A student with an F-1 visa cannot sponsor another student wanting one.
Form I-20

Once applicants are accepted into their prospective schools, they will be provided with a Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – For Academic and Language Students. This form gives the USCIS important information, such as the applicant's identification, address, topic of study, when the academic program starts, how much time classes will require until they are done, and how the applicants will pay for living and tuition expenses.


F-1 students may not seek off-campus employment within their first academic year, although they may work on campus with some restrictions. After the first academic year, students may seek certain types of employment, but their work must be related to their majors and must be approved by the USCIS and the school's official in charge of processing F-1 visa information.

Expedited Processing

The U.S. Department of State, its embassies, and consulates expedite F-1 visa processing so students may begin their academic studies on time. The maximum wait time for an appointment is fewer than fifteen days, and applicants may apply for their visas up to 120 days before their academic programs begin. The Department of State and USCIS recognize that foreign students bring valuable contributions to American society, and encourage foreign students to apply early to ensure that their visas are processed in time and accurately.

Need More Help with F1 International Student Visas?

Contact the Law Offices of Samuel Berger at (201) 587-1500 or (212) 380-8117 for more information on these visas. Mr. Berger has over 25 years of legal experience to help you study or work in the United States. Call or email today to set up a consultation.