An F-1 visa is a student visa for academic studies. The F-1 visa allows you to come to the United States as a full-time academic or language student to earn a degree or certificate.
You may work part-time on campus or if it is economically necessary, you may work off campus with permission. You may stay in the Unites States to receive training through work experience for up to 12 months or if you have a “STEM” degree 17 months.
To qualify for an F-1 visa you first must be accepted to an approved school. The school must be approved by the U.S. government. Once you have been accepted, the school will issue you a certificate (SEVIS Form I-20). You must also be a bona fide student pursing a full course of study. A full course of study depends upon the program.
For example, if you are an undergraduate at a U.S. university, you must be enrolled in at least 12 semester hours. It is important to note that F-1 students are limited to taking only a minimum number of online classes. However, if you are an F-1 student in a language program, you can’t count online classes toward your full course requirement. The program you are enrolled in must lead to the attainment of a specific educational or vocational objective, such as a diploma or certificate.
You must also know English well enough to study effectively. Additionally, most colleges and universities will not admit students unless they pass the English proficiency test (TOEFL). You will also need to show that you have enough money to support yourself without working for the entire length of the program.
You will need to show at the time you apply for the F-1 visa that you have enough cash on hand to cover all expenses for the first-year. Additionally, because student visas are temporary, you will need to show an intent to return home after you have completed your studies.
Once you qualify for an F-1 visa your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can get an F2 visa. The school will issue separate I-20 forms for them. They will be unable to work in the United States.
Therefore, you will need to show proof of the family relationship and that you have enough money to support them while you are pursuing your studies.
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