The U.S. is a country of 50 states covering a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean. Major Atlantic Coast cities are New York, a global finance and culture centre, and capital Washington, DC. Midwestern metropolis Chicago is known for influential architecture and on the west coast, Los Angeles’ Hollywood is famed for filmmaking. Without a doubt, international students will be spoilt for choice exotic locations for leisure and learning when they obtain the US F-1 Study Visa.

The United States supports international education and welcomes foreign students and exchange visitors. Generally, students of foreign countries who wish to enter the United States must first obtain a visa such as the non-immigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa such as the US F-1 study visa to study in the United States.

Note

Foreign students in the United States with F visas must depart the United States within 60 days after the program end date listed on Form I-20, including any authorized practical training. Failure to depart the United States on time will result in being out of status which further implies that you may become ineligible for visas in the future.

It suffices to note that except in cases of emergency travel (i.e. serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family), before making inquiries about the status of administrative processing, applicants should wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later. Student (F and M) visas for new students can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date for a course of study.  However, you will not be allowed to enter the United States on your student visa for more than 30 days before the start date.

Visa Type

The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. A valid U.S. visa like the US F-1 study visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless cancelled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States. There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. These visas are commonly known as the F and M visas.

The US F-1 study visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students. F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion), Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT).

The M-1 visa (Vocational Student) category includes students in vocational or other non-academic programs, other than language training. M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.

For both F-1 and M-1 students, any off-campus employment must be related to their area of study and must be authorized prior to the start of any work by the Designated School Official (the person authorized to maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)) and USCIS. Your spouse and unmarried, minor children who intend to reside with you during your study may apply for F-2 or M-2 visas. Although SEVIS fee payment is not required, your school must issue them an individual Form I-20, which is required to apply for their visas. You must provide a copy of your F-1 or M-1 visa and provide proof of relationship. If you are interested in changing to F or M Student Status, see the Changing to a Nonimmigrant F or M Student Status page.

 Visa Requirements

Before you qualify for the US F-1 study visa,

  • You must first gain admission to an institution. You must be enrolled in an “academic” educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program. The school will send you the Form I 20 that will provide essential details about your admission and financing. Also, you must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution.
  • As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.
  • Before applying for a visa, students and exchange visitors must be accepted by their schools or program sponsors.
  • It is recommended that you use a professional visa photo service to ensure your photo meets all the requirements.
  • Your school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
  • You must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
  • You need to have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study.
  • You must maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of giving up.

 Documents Required

The US F-1 study visa requires you to carry a lot more documents than you would for a tourist visa, by comparison. You need the mandatory documents along with supporting documents of financial and academic records. These documents include:

  • A valid passport with a validity date at least six months beyond your period of stay.
  • A printed copy of DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application), the online application form, and Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • An Interview appointment letter (original and copy).
  • Form I-20 sent by the college (where you are going to study).
  • Visa fees payment confirmation receipt.
  • Bank statement for at least three years showing that you have enough assets to pay for the first year (could be of parent or guardian).
  • Payslips (application fee payment receipts).

Additionally, 

  • You need your original mark sheets/provisional certificates.
  • The score sheet of exams like TOEFL, GMAT, IELTS and so on.
  • An uploaded photo while completing the online Form DS-160 (If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • The Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students.
  • Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students. Your school will send you a Form I-20 once they have entered your information in the SEVIS database. You and your school official must sign the Form I-20.
  • All students registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS).
  • Proof of the amount of funds you need to cover for the first year total expenses.

NB: Your spouse and/or minor children, if they intend to live in the United States with you, will each receive an individual Form I-20.

Application Procedures

There are several steps to apply for a US F-1 study visa. They will be considered seriatim:

  • Your visa process starts when you receive Form I-20 from your college. Though you can pay the SEVIS fee anytime during the application, it is strongly recommended that you pay the SEVIS I-901 fee before you start your US visa application.
  • After paying the SEVIS fee and getting a receipt, you can apply for a DS-160 visa form.
  • You need to print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • You can pay the visa fee through NEFT or at authorized AXIS bank/Citi bank locations.
  • Be quick to schedule a Biometric appointment and Interview appointment.
  • For the Biometric appointment, you will be required to appear in person to get your photograph clicked for the visa and get your fingerprints scanned.
  • You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • At the Personal interview, the interviewer will ask you questions about your choice, of course, college, finances, and intent of coming back. If s/he is convinced, they will keep your passport with them to get the visa stamped.

Furthermore,

  • Complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Prepare the required documents before your visa interview.
  • Attend your visa interview after which the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing. The consular officer will inform you if this is required.
  • At the interview, the consular officer will determine your qualifications for a student visa and may request additional documents, such as evidence of your academic preparation, such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended; and standardized test scores required by your U.S. school; your intent to depart the US upon completion of the course of study; and how you will pay all educational, living and travel costs.
  • In all cases, you must submit the online visa application form (DS-160) first, pay the application fee, and schedule the first available interview appointment. Only at this point will a consular section consider your request for an expedited appointment.
  • There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Visa Fee

The application fee for the US f-1 study visa is estimated at 200 USD. Accepted modes of Payment is Credit Card, Money Order/Demand Draft Payable in Dollars at the applicable exchange rate as determined by the bank.

Contact Address

The U.S. Embassy in Tanzania is situated at 686 Old Bagamoyo Road, Msasani, Dar es Salaam, P.O. Box 9123.

The commission is accessible via Tel: 255-22-229-4000.

Fax: 255-22-229-4970 or 255-22-229-4971.

You can also reach out to the Tanzanian embassy through its website.

Conclusion

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. A visa such as the US F-1study visa only allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States.

After you present your passport, visa, and Form I-20 at the port-of-entry, a CBP official will make this decision.  Once you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.  There is no guarantee you will be issued a visa. Therefore, do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.

Good luck!

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