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    What is an F-1 visa? Here is everything you need to know

    Synopsis

    F-1 students may stay in the US for up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program unless they have applied for and have been approved to stay and work for a period of time under the OPT program.

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    There are two ways an F-1 student can extend their stay in the U.S. for 12 months after completing their degree.
    F-1 visas are a type of non-immigrant student visa that permits foreigners to study (academic or a language training program) in the United States. F-1 students are expected to maintain a complete course of study. They may stay in the US for up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their academic program unless they have applied for and have been approved to stay and work for a period of time under the OPT program.

    F-1 visas are provided only in U.S. embassies and consulates outside the United States, while extensions of stay and changes of status may be possible within the United States.

    F-1 students must prove that they are able to support themselves during their stay in the US, as their prospects for legal employment are limited.

    Here's everything you need to know about the application process

    Get accepted into a school/university: One must apply for and be admitted by a school approved by the SEVP prior to applying for an F-1 student visa.

    Pay SEVIS fee and get Form I-20: When approved, the student would be allowed to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee of USD 350 to be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The school would then provide the student with the Form I-20. This form will be sent to the consular officer at the time of the student's F-1 visa interview. (If your spouse and/or children intend to live with you in the United States while you are studying, they will be expected to have individual Form I-20s, but they will not need to be enrolled in the SEVIS.)

    Complete F-1 visa application form: The student must pay a non-refundable visa application fee of USD 160. An online visa application is available, which allows you to complete and print the Form DS-160 for your F-1 visa interview.

    Attend the F-1 visa interview: The F1 visa interview can be arranged with the U.S. embassy or consulate. Waiting time varies by venue, season, and category of visa. An F-1 student visa can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date of your academic year. You will only be allowed to enter the U.S. with an F-1 visa 30 days before your joining date.

    F-1 visa approval: Your interview will decide if you are eligible to obtain an F-1 student visa. Assuming you have prepared the required paperwork and comply with all F-1 visa requirements, your visa request will be approved at the discretion of the consular officer. Digital fingerprint scans will be taken for records. Your passport will be taken so that you can get your visa and you will be told when you will get it back, either by pick-up or by mail.

    Documents required for your F-1 visa interview
    • A valid passport
    • The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160
    • The application fee payment receipt
    • A passport photo
    • A Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (Form 1-20)
    • Additional documents may be requested to prove your eligibility for the F-1 student visa, including academic transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates. Test scores such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, or GMAT may also be requested, as well as proof of your intent to depart the U.S. after your program is complete and proof of your financial stability.
    The validity period of F-1 visa for Indians: 60 months
    Visa issuance fee for Indians: None
    The number of times an Indian may seek entry into the United States with F-1 visa: Multiple

    Five ways an F-1 visa holder can apply for Green Card in US:

    1. Find a job in the field of specialty: In this scenario, you must be supported by your employer by paying for the petition. They must also ensure that they comply with labour and visa laws.

    2. Self-petition as a Person with Extraordinary Abilities: This refers to a group of individuals with exceptional abilities in their respective fields of study. In this process, you have to do everything on your own, from completing your application to paying high fees. And even after you do this, there is no guarantee that you will get your approval.

    3. Adjust status to a dual intent visa: A dual intent visa is a non-immigrant work visa that allows you to apply for a Green Card. The change can take place after a certain amount of time has passed. Dual intent visas are some of the non-immigrant H visas such as the H-1B visa.

    There are two ways an F-1 student can extend their stay in the U.S. for 12 months after completing their degree.

    A. The Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)
    The F-1 student can get a job from the educational institution that they attend. Students can start their CPT after 9 months of enrollment in an educational institution. The CPT can continue for 12 months. This could persuade the institution to fund the student.

    B. The Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    The OPT is a program that helps foreign students to obtain some job experience in the U.S. It can only start after the student gets a degree. The student finds a job with the U.S. employer in their particular area of expertise and will work for 12 months. After 12 months, the student must return to his home country. But if you are good during your OPT, you can get a chance to get a dual-intent visa. You should be funded by the employer to get an H-1B visa. The employer must petition for you to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and get approval. In the case of non-immigrant visas, the F-1 student cannot self-petition. The process can only be initiated by the employer.

    4. Become an investor in the US: Another way to get a Green Card is by investing in the US economy. If you spend $500K to $1M in a U.S. commercial company and establish more than 10 permanent jobs, you will get an EB-5 visa. The EB-5 Visa is a Green Card for rich investors.

    5. Marry a US citizen: Finally, one way to get a Green Card if you are a foreign student is to marry a U.S. resident. USCIS grants a conditional status to a foreign partner. They get a CR-1 visa that is valid for 2 years. If the couple stays married for those two years, the foreign partner can change their status. They can go from the conditional status into a permanent one and get the Green Card.
    ( Originally published on Dec 15, 2020 )

    1 Comment on this Story

    John Immanuel69 days ago
    Good news for Indian students who are seeking for F1 visa, thanks for sharing the news for more information on F1 visa please contact global tree, which is the best in overseas education consultants in India and having 15 plus branches across pan India.
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