F-1 Student Visa

F-1 Student Visa Attorneys in Skokie

Obtain a Visa to Study in the U.S.

The F-1 Visa is issued to international students who are pursuing an academic program or English Language Program at U.S. colleges, seminaries, conservatories, academia high schools, private elementary schools, academic institutions, universities, or language training programs.

At Gambacorta Law, we represent students from around the world who want to pursue an education in the United States. Our F-1 visa lawyers in Skokie are happy to help you through the process from start to finish.

Call (847) 443-9303 now to learn more and see if you are eligible for an F-1 visa.

Applying for an F-1 Visa

To obtain an F-1 visa, you must apply to study at a USCIS-approved school in the United States. When you contact a school that you are interested in attending, you should be told immediately if the school accepts international students. When accepted, the school should give you USCIS Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students). You should also be prepared to prove that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States.

After receiving an immigration form I-20, you must make an appointment at your nearest U.S. Consulate to apply for a student visa and pay the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee. You’ll need your I-20 Form to pay. Print out the receipt after paying.

Bring the following to the appointment:

  • Form I-20
  • Passport
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Proof that you can financially support your studies
  • Proof of ties to your home country
  • Any other forms that your consulate requires

To accommodate visa processing time, be sure to apply for your visa as early as possible. Take note that embassies and consulates can issue a student visa 120 days in advance of your registration date. You should also know that the Department of Homeland Security requires all beginning students to enter the U.S. no more than 30 days in advance of the start of the studies.

The Application Process

As an F-1 visa applicant, you must undergo an interview at the Embassy Consular section if you are between the ages of 14 and 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger and age 80 and older generally do not need to complete an interview unless requested by the Embassy or Consulate. You must prove to the consular officer that you have binding ties to your residence in your country and that you will depart the United States when you have completed your studies. It is impossible to specify the exact form the evidence should take since circumstances vary greatly.

If you pass the interview and are granted the visa, you can travel to the United States. Upon entering the U.S. on a student visa, you will be likely admitted for the duration of your student status. In other words, you may stay as long as you are a full-time student even when the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the U.S. Spouses and children under 21 years of age are eligible to obtain F-2 derivative status. They may accompany the F-1 student and remain in the United States. Children may also attend elementary and secondary schools. Remember: If you have F-2 status, you are not allowed to work.

Maintaining F-1 Status

To maintain your F-1 status, you must maintain the minimum course load requirement for full-time student status. You may remain in the United States for up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes you to complete your academic program. The school you attend must have the authority from the Department of Homeland Security to issue Form I-20.

Additionally, you must:

  • Be skilled in the English language or be enrolled in English language courses
  • Refrain from engaging in unauthorized employment in the U.S.
  • Have enough funds available to support your entire period of study
  • Have a foreign residence and strong ties to home country
  • Intend to return to your home country upon completion of studies

F-1 visa holders may be able to convert their visa to a temporary work visa upon completion of their studies.

Traveling as an F-1 Visa Holder

If you have an F-1 visa, you are allowed to travel in and out of the country. Foreign students may enter the United States multiple times if they hold a valid F-1 visa. It is important that you have all the necessary documents and signed authorizations to avoid any problems at the U.S. port of entry. Your passport must also be valid for a certain amount of time in order to be granted entry. F-1 visa holders can also travel freely within the United States.

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To learn more about F-1 visas and whether you are eligible for one, call Gambacorta Law at (847) 443-9303.


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