F1/F2 - STUDENT VISA OR STATUS

APPLICATION FOR F1/F2 VISA AT THE U.S. EMBASSY OR CONSULATE OR CHANGE OF STATUS TO F1/F2 IN THE UNITED STATES

What is the difference between F1 and F2?

F1 visa or status applies to full time students enrolled in a certified educational program in the US. F2 visa or status applies to dependents of the F1 applicant, such as the spouse and/or unmarried children under 21 years of age.

F1 visa application requirements

• Have a valid passport.

• Have the i-20, issued by the American educational institution, in hand.

• Pay the SEVIS fee. Payment by international credit card only.

• Pay the MRV fee. Payment by credit card or bank slip.

• Demonstrate sufficient funds to support yourself in the US during the study period.

What is I-20 and how can I obtain this document?

This is an immigration form used by schools and universities to determine that a student qualifies for an F-1 student visa. This document will include the name of the student, country, educational institution that will sponsor the visa, course or specialization, cost of studies. Once the school accepts the student's application and issues the I-20, it is responsible for maintaining that student's student status and must report to the government whether the student is "in compliance."

If the student does not attend classes or has some kind of problem, she can cancel the I-20 and consequently the student loses student status. In this case the student must leave the country or he will be illegal in the United States.

How do I know if the school can issue the I-20?

Before registering, make sure the school you intend to study is authorized by the United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) and has acceptance of The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). If it is accredited in both, it will be legible to issue this document.

Check your school here.


I already have the i20 issued by the institution, does that mean my visa has already been approved?

No. They are two different things, the I-20 just indicates that you have been approved by the university, school, course.

How much do I need in cash or financial assets to qualify for a student visa?

The exact amount depends on the program you choose and the size of your family. You must prove that you can cover your tuition and living expenses for you and your family without your or your spouse working. The school will require proof that you can afford your program and living expenses for you and your family before issuing the I-20.

How can I prove that I meet the financial requirement?

You may prove that you have the funds necessary to pay for school and support yourself and your family by presenting your bank statements, bank statements of your relatives, copies of income statement, etc. If other people are supporting you, you must present evidence of their financial assets and USCIS Form I-134.

Do I have to take the TOEFL or GRE exams to qualify for a student visa or status?

Taking the TOEFL or GRE is not a requirement to obtain a student visa. However, depending on the program you intend to enroll in, the school may require an exam to demonstrate English proficiency before issuing the I-20.

Can I change my university/school after I obtain my F1 status or F1 visa (in the U.S. or abroad)?

Yes, if you don’t like the school or university that issued your I-20, you may change to another school or university. It is important that you start your studies at the school listed on your I-20. Then, you must obtain a new I-20 with the new school. Be sure to maintain valid student status at all times.

What type of proof can I present to show that I will come back to my home country? 

Student status is temporary, so it is relevant to prove that you intend to return to your home country after finishing your studies. Some examples of evidence that your stay will be temporary are home title, documents of a business belonging to you in your home country, copies of birth certificates (if your children stayed in your home country), copies of bank statements, etc.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. It applies to students enrolled in a U.S educational institution under an F-1 visa. They must be completing a university or college degree such as Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral degree.

If I am in the U.S. as a tourist, when is the right time to apply for the change of status to student?

You must apply for a change of status to F1 before your authorized stay expires. In some specific cases, it is possible to apply for a change of status after your status expired. If that is your case, contact us so we may analyze your specific case and check your eligibility for change of status.

Can I travel abroad if I changed my status to F1/F2?

If you changed your status to F1/F2 while in the United States, you cannot travel abroad and re-enter the country unless you obtain the F1/F2 visa sticker in your passport at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

Can I apply for F1 from outside the USA?

Yes, you can apply for F1 at your country of residence. In that case, you have to contact the U.S. based SEVP certified school, obtain the I-20, and follow the instructions of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate to schedule an interview.