F-1 Student Visas

F-1 visas are issued to students who will pursue a “full course of study” in the United States.

Who can qualify for the visa?

The following individuals may qualify for a student visa if they can demonstrate:

  • strong ties to one’s home country and an intent to return after the period of study
  • sufficient funds to cover the expenses of studies
  • acceptance to a school and pursuit of a full-time course of study in the US, which USCIS regulations define as the following (with some exceptions):
    • Postgraduate or postdoctoral study at a college, university, conservatory or religious seminary;
    • Undergraduate study at a college or university consisting of at least 12 credit hours per term, except in cases where to finish the program the student does not need to take 12 hours in the last term;
    • Study at a postsecondary institution that awards associate or comparable degrees, and whose credits are accepted by at least three other institutions of higher learning;
    • Study in a language, liberal arts, fine arts, or other non-vocational training program requiring 18 hours of attendance per week (22 hours if laboratory work constitutes the dominant part of the course of study);
    • Study in a high school, providing the foreign student attends the minimum class hours per week required for graduation;
    • Study in an elementary school.

An F-2 visa may be issued to family dependents: spouse and children of the F-1 visa student holder. A parent of a minor child student may receive a B-2 visa to accompany the child. A prospective student who has not yet decided on a school can request a B-2 prospective student visa and seek F-1 status once they are in the US. However, if a prospective student does not make his or her intentions clear at the time of entry, the USCIS could very well deny the request to change status.

What are some problems, issues, and consular questions which arise when applying for an F-1 visa?

We have more than twenty-five years of experience dealing with F visa issues. Among the negative factors considered by consular officers in reviewing F-1 visa applications are:

  • holding the nationality of a country with high visa refusal rates;
  • lack of proficiency in English or inability to understand American English (unless enrolling in an ESL program);
  • a major that does not seem to tie in to the applicant’s career;
  • a course of study that would have little benefit in the home country;
  • enrollment in a little known university or school;
  • lack of liquid finances available to cover tuition and living expenses in the US;
  • prospective student is over the age of 25;
  • utilizing the services of a travel agency with a bad reputation at the US consulate;
  • returning students who received poor grades in the US, missed many classes or were on academic probation or suspended;
  • if a returning English language student and unable to show good progress in English (could be tested by consul);
  • spending substantial time in the United States and/or making frequent visits to the United States on a B visa;
  • F-2 applicants are not automatically granted visas;
  • recently began a new job;
  • losing one’s job since receiving previous US visa;
  • previously gave birth in the United States, particularly if one did not pay hospital bills;
  • previously changed status in US (e.g., Summer Work Travel student changes status to B after end of summer);
  • previously extended status in US (e.g., prolonging stay, regardless of reason);
  • failing to adhere to timeframes indicated in a previous application.

How does White and Associates help?

We have more than twenty-five years of experience assisting in obtaining student visas. Because of the typical age of student visa applicants, they tend not to have the “ties” of older visa applicants. While the consul is supposed to consider this when adjudicating a student visa application, this does not always happen, with student visa applicants often denied at a refusal rate 2 or more times the level of B visa applicants from the same country.

We can help you prepare for your student visa interview. We can help allay your concerns and deal with difficult questions. We can help you prepare supporting documentation. In addition to providing a consultation, we can also represent you in the visa application process. Issuance of the student visa can pave the way for future visas, but one refusal can irrevocably taint the ability to obtain a visa. Even if you have been rejected a student visa, we may be in a position to help: for example, we assisted a student finally obtain a visa after she was denied a visa 7 times.

F visa interviews are extremely subjective. Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act gives consuls unprecedented leeway in denying applications. If any of the above-listed factors applies to you, you should consider consulting a professional before paying the visa processing fees. In addition, the human factor is so important: how will the visa applicant handle the interview? How will the applicant answer questions from the consul? Does the applicant get nervous in an official setting? Intimidated by public officials/authorities? Is the applicant’s English poor? We can conduct a mock visa interview over Skype to best prepare you for the actual interview. Don’t underestimate the process. Contact us for a consultation.