8 Documentation Requirements for an F1 Visa 

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f1 visa requirements

An F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to international students to study at a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified educational institution. An F1 visa can be applied after the university accepts the application to study. The duration of the F1 visa holder depends on the program of study. The university or college will issue an I-20 form that lists the expiration date of the course.


Before applying for an F1 visa, a person must be aware of the F1 visa requirements. Presenting the right documents is crucial for a successful visa application. Keep reading to learn more about F1 visa requirements. 

What is an F1 Visa?

This visa is a non-immigrant visa that will allow international students to enter the US and study and also get certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Students can apply for this visa only after a US institution accepts their application. The duration of the stay will vary based on the program in which they enrol.

F1 Visa Requirements – Documents

Check below the list of F1 visa documentation requirements:


f1 visa requirements

A passport is a mandatory document required for an F1 visa. Before applying for an F1 visa an applicant must ensure that the passport is valid for at least 6 months or more. The validity must extend the period of stay in the US. This is not required if the applicant is exempted from this criteria due to the country’s specific requirements. For any family member listed in the passport of the applicant must submit a separate visa application.

Form DS-160 confirmation page

One of the most important F1 visa requirements is a ‘Form DS-160 confirmation page”. The DS-160 form is a nonimmigrant visa application form. The form is for temporary travel to the US and for K (fiancé(e)) visas.  The visa application can be filled out online. A printout of the same is necessary to sit for a US visa interview. While filling out the DS-160 form the applicant must also upload his/her photograph. Consular officers will use the information provided to process the visa application. Only a printout of the ‘DS-160 barcode page’ is essential. 

Watch the video below to steps to fill  the DS-Form 160 

Credit: Nomadic Ujjwal

Visa Application Fee Payment Receipt 

Another important F1 visa requirement is the payment of the application fee. The application fee varies depending on the county of the applicant. The F1 visa application fee for Indian students is approximately USD 185 (INR 15,187). The application fee must be paid before attending the visa interview. 

Read this article to learn about the F1 visa process insights 


f1 visa requirements

As mentioned before, the DS-160 form requires the applicant to upload a photograph. The photograph is essential for identification purposes, In case, the photograph fails to upload, then a printed photograph must be brought to the interview. Furthermore, the photograph must meet the requirements. That is, the photograph must be in colour and size in a way that the is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm), must have been taken within the last 6 months in front of a plain white or off-white background.  Moreover, the photograph must be taken in full-face view directly facing the camera with a neutral expression. Uniforms, hats, headphones, eyeglasses, etc are not allowed. 

Certifications Necessary 

Apart from the above F1 visa requirements, the applicants must submit the following documents. That is,

  • 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

Note: The Form-1-20 is issued by the University/school of the applicant. The form is issued after the information of the applicant has been entered into the SEVIS database. Both the applicant and the school must sign the Form-I 20. In case, the spouse or the children of the applicant intends to stay in the US, they will be provided with separate I-20 Forms.

Academic Records

f1 visa requirements

Another important F1 visa requirement is academic records. A consular officer may request the student to present the academic documents. For example, academic transcripts, degrees, diplomas, and certificates from the school or college attended, among others. The applicant must also show the standardized test scores that are required by a US school. For example, IELTS/ TOEFL, GRE/GMAT. These records can be asked at the US visa interview. Hence, the applicant must gather these documents. 

Proof of Finances 

Another important F1 visa requirement is proof of finances. The consular officer might ask the applicant to present financial documents. These documents are sought to check how the applicant is going to pay the living expenses, educational expenses, and travel expenses. Therefore, the applicant might have to present bank statements, proof of scholarship, etc.  

Check out the F1 Visa Cost for the USA from India

Proof of Intention to Return to the Home Country

The F1 visa requirements include proof of return to the home country. This proof can be sought by the consular officer during an F1 visa interview stage. The proof of ‘nonimmigration’ intent can be provided by presenting strong ties to the home country. For example, the applicant can submit  Copies of official documents proving family relationships and their residences, or  Letters from physicians explaining important medical conditions of their parents to prove strong family ties. Another way to provide strong financial ties. That is, by submitting the Copies of investment statements or certificates, and a letter or financial statement from your bank or accountant.

How to Apply for An F1 Visa? 

After meeting the F1 visa requirements for documentation, a person can apply fro an F1 visa. The steps for an F1 visa application are as follows: 

  • Get accepted to a  SEVP-certified university. After getting accepted to the University, the university will issue an I-20 form
  • Next, fill out the DS-160 Visa Application form, pay the fees, and schedule the visa interview
  • Appear for the US visa interview, and wait for the visa application processing. Note: the DS-160 Application fee includes the fee for the visa interview. The documents gathered must be presented in the US visa interview 
  • Once, the applicant has obtained the visa he/she can travel to the  U.S. port-of-entry, and request permission to enter the USA. 

Learn about the USA work visa requirements

F1 Visa Interview 

An F1 visa application generally requires you to attend a visa interview. However, there are certain exceptions. These are provided in detail in the table below:

Age Interview Requirement 
80 and olderNot Required 
13 and youngerGenerally not required
14 – 79Required (some exceptions for renewals)

To attend the F1 visa interview you must schedule your appointment at the US Embassy or Consulate in India. The waiting time for the interview can depend of the location, visa category, and the season. During the visa interview, it will be determined by the consular officer whether you are qualified for the interview or not.

F1 Visa Validity

The F1 visa validity is for 1 year. Those who are applying for a degree program for 2 years will also get a visa for 1 year. However, they can renew the visa. The F1 visa validity is mentioned in the 1-94 form and the 1-20 form. Those who are renewing their visa will have to go through the same procedure.  When an F1 visa is approved, you can depart for US 30 days before the program commences.

F1 Visa Processing Time 

The F1 visa application decision is revealed to you right after the interview. After the visa interview, you are either congratulated for getting the visa or provided with a rejection letter. This is because an F1 visa application process happens before the interview. The last step to obtain the F1 visa is to clear the interview itself.


How much bank balance is required for F1 visa?

The bank balance required for a US visa is a minimum of  USD 10,000. The amount must be reflected in the previous 6-9 bank statements. It is important to note that there is no fixed maximum amount.

Is it hard to get F1 visa approved?

Yes. The US visa application process is long and complex, Hence. It is best to apply early. However, after the visa application has been approved in the interview stage it will only take a week to get the visa processing. The processing time is generally between 5-7 working days. 

How can I avoid F1 visa rejection?

To avoid an F1 visa rejection, have sufficient financial means to apply for the US visa, present accurate documentation, and try to arrive before the scheduled time for the US interview. 

Is US F1 visa easy to get?

The F1 visa process is simple. However, it is a lengthy and time-consuming process.  For smooth visa processing, you must meet the F1 visa requirements, and submit accurate and relevant documents.

We hope you now understand the f1 visa requirements. Want to apply for a Visa for your study abroad journey? Drop us a comment in the section below, or you can connect with a visa expert at Leverage Edu, and we will guide you on your dream journey!

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