5 Facts for International Students on F1 Visas in the U.S.

The F1 visa category is reserved for academic students enrolled in colleges, universities, high schools, language training programs, and other academic institutions. The first step for a prospective student is being accepted for enrollment in an established school (University/College) which is SEVP certified. 

We have created a list of the most common questions from and for international students on rules and regulations regarding the F1 student visa:

International Student Visa

What are the requirements for F1 student visas?

  • You must be attending an academic institution or a language-training program;
  • You must be enrolled as a full-time student;
  • The school must be approved by the USICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to accept foreign students;
  • You must show sufficient financial support to complete the study;
  • You must prove that you do not intend to abandon your foreign residency.

Can I travel outside the US?

Yes.  You may return to the US after an absence of no more than five months. You must have a new F1 visa if your original one has expired. Have your designated school official sign your I-20 before leaving the US.

Can I transfer to a different school?

Yes.  You must notify your current school and work with the designated school official (DSO) to transfer your SEVIS record. You also need to obtain a new I-20 from your new school, and give the completed I-20 to your new DSO within 15 days of transfer date.

International Students

Can I work in the U.S.?

F-1 visas are intended to enable foreign students to study in the U.S., hence, there are strict work restrictions. Students with F-1 visas are generally allowed to work on the campus of the university at which they study for up to 20 hours a week. There are also two training programs that F-1 students can get permission to work under.  F1 students should always seek advice from the DSO (or foreign student advisor) before seeking employment in the United States.

For more information on employment for international students follow this link.

How long can I stay in the U.S. with a F1 visa?

When you enter the US, an immigration officer at the port of entry will issue you an I-94 card that indicates your non-immigrant status (F1) and your authorized stay. It is typically “Duration of Status” or “D/S” on a student’s I-94 card, meaning that you may remain in the U.S. as long as you are enrolled in the school to complete your academic program. After the program ends you will have 60 days to depart the U.S. For more information on renewing your F1 student visa, follow this link.

If you have any further questions about paying your student tuition fees from your home country once you’ve secured your immigration status, please ask us in the comments below!

Disclaimer: peerTransfer is not an immigration organization nor has affiliation with any such companies. Our primary service is processing international education payments, and this post is meant only to serve as an informational introduction to help international students understand the basics about student visas.

33 Responses to 5 Facts for International Students on F1 Visas in the U.S.

  1. Very useful for students who are trying to apply for f1 visa and get the visa

    Some more questions which can be important

    How many years I can stay after my studies are over.
    Can I invite my parents when studying in USA.

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  4. sateesh says:

    hi me sateesh i am planing to do 2 years MBA programme in usa how much cost of the cource and howmany years f1 visa come and what r the best universities

  5. momoh kester Aizebeokhai says:

    very informative and Educating. nice job

  6. Pingback: Read More! | Facts about the F1 Visa for International Students in the US

  7. The information provided regarding F1 visa is very helpful, and I personally feel that it covers all aspects of working and studying in the USA, which often perplex international students.

  8. F-1 students must maintain a full course of study students must show that they are able to support themselves during their stay.

  9. Sean Ward says:

    Good, solid information. Don’t forget to mention how important the student visa interview is and how the student needs to prepare, or they could become one of the 160,000 international students denied their visa last year. You need to know the questions and what to say, and what not to say, to ensure you provide the three critical items the consular officer must know or they will simply deny your visa. Find out what these 3 items are and get the details you need at my site, gousavisacenter, and I also just finished a book called F-1 Student Visa Package that every prospective student needs before that interview.

  10. teganhowlett says:

    How long before the start of your academic programme are you allowed to be in the US for? I heard 30 days but I just wanted to check. :)

  11. burri prasanna says:

    How many years I can stay after my studies are over. i would like to do ms 2 years course ?? please give me details

    • admin says:

      Hi Burri,

      If you are on an F-1 student visa, you have a 60 day grace period after your date of graduation or last day as a registered student (whichever is earlier). During that grace period, you may remain in the U.S. but you may NOT re-enter the U.S. in F-1 Status. If you would like to stay in the U.S. for work, you may utilize the Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefit of the F-1 visa. For more information on OPT, click here for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page. If you have any questions, ask the International Student services office at your school.

  12. Jayden says:

    Hi,

    I am international student from Malaysia. Currently studying in Oklahoma State University. Just in case, if I do not take any classes this semester, how would happen to my I-20 and Visa? Can I still stay in America?

    Thank you.

  13. Sally says:

    Can international student take 11 hours of credits to consider in status?

    • admin says:

      Hi Sally,

      In order to keep your visa status, you must maintain “full-time enrollment”, which may differ depending on your student status. Undergraduate programs require students to enroll in at least 12 credit hours each semester during the academic year. Graduate programs each define their own combination of credit hours with research time to be considered “full-time.” To remain in legal F-1 visa status, you should check with your program to ensure that you are maintaining full-time enrollment, especially if you’re a graduate student.

  14. The training programs for F-1 students that allows the student to work in off campus jobs are OPT and CPT. CPT is designed for summer internships while OPT is designed for post graduation employment. Both are really important for working in the US and students should make every effort to apply for CPT and OPT during their studies so that they can gain valuable work experience or even work for an employer that will sponsor them visas to permanently stay in America.

  15. milica says:

    Hi, I’m currently in usa on my B1 visa, and I’m going to start studies here, and change my status to F1. I’m just wondering, can I leave usa (go back my home for example on holydays) and come back, during my F1 visa? Thank you

    • admin says:

      Great question! Yes, you can leave the U.S. on an F1 visa. You just need to have your designated school official sign your I-20 before leaving the U.S.

  16. srinu says:

    Hi my name is Srinu,I have completed my B.tech in 2011(april).I tried for F1 visa on Dec 18 in2011 but it was rejected.later I quited my process for USA and tried for job here(India).I got job in software company.Now I am working ingGreen Buds Software Technology for 2 years.Now I am planing to pursue Masters in USA for 2015 spring.Is there is any constraints of getting visa as i had 4 yearsgap(1year for us processing,1 year for job searching 2 years of doing job) in my studies.Can you please reply me and suggest possible ways for my Masters not for HIB Visa.

  17. The information provided regarding F1 visa is very helpful. F-1 students must maintain a full course of study students must show that they are able to support themselves during their stay.

  18. krysna roca says:

    hi there
    please help me to know all the restrictions while staying in the US on an F1 visa. thankyou.

  19. Good Informative post about what can international students do with a f1 visa in the united states. Thanks for the post.

  20. cuteshreya says:

    nice information thank you for sharing this information with us..i want to complete my MSMBAinUSA

  21. Ruth says:

    Can I work with my F1visas

    • admin says:

      Hi Ruth, thank you for your question! F-1 visas are intended to enable foreign students to study in the U.S., hence, there are strict work restrictions. Students with F-1 visas are generally allowed to work on the campus of the university at which they study for up to 20 hours a week. There are also two training programs that F-1 students can get permission to work under. F1 students should always seek advice from the DSO (or foreign student advisor) before seeking employment in the United States.

  22. Josefina. says:

    Good information! I have a question ….
    I’m almost done with my certificate degree in Fashion, I would like to stay for little bit and work thus I need to get the OPT, I know I could get it, I just need to find out more about what it is and how to obtain it, would I need to apply for it?. The people at the international office at my school don’t know anything about nothing, they are new hires and I think you guys could help me more than they could.
    Thanks Josie!

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