student visa for usa how many years

Everything you need to know about student visa for USA: eligibility, how to apply, types of visas and requirements, duration, etc. Find the best option for you! Student Visa for USA is not just the passage for getting admission at US Universities and colleges but it is also the gateway for attaining employment opportunities in America. As a student holding this visa, you may apply to work or intern at a US based company during or after your studies.

Exchanging your country with another is a great experience, thanks to tourism. But it becomes a reality only when you have all the paperwork in order and secured. One of the documents required for International Tourism is a student visa. Studying abroad might not be as easy as one thinks, because obtaining a student visa is not as simple as buying a ticket and packing your bags. In fact, the process takes some time: from the day you decide on where to spend your semester or academic year until you get your Permanent Residence Card, it could last for two years.

If you are planning to study in the United States, you may be wondering how long your visa will allow you to stay.

This is a common question because it’s not always clear how long students can stay in the U.S. on their student visas. The length of time is dependent on the type of visa and whether or not you are studying full-time or part-time.

Full-time Students:

Full-time students with F1 visas can stay in the U.S. for up to 5 years, but they must enroll at an accredited university, college or vocational school and maintain a full course load (usually 12 credit hours per semester). If you are enrolled in less than 12 credits per semester, then your visa will expire after one year unless you apply for an extension before its expiration date. Part-time students with F1 visas are only allowed to stay in the U.S. while they attend school—they cannot work while they’re here on this type of visa unless they get approval from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). If a part-time student applies for an extension after completing one year of study at a particular institution, then it will automatically be granted for another year provided that he or she remains enrolled at that

Student visa for USA: how many years?

If you are a student who wants to go to the United States, you may have heard that you will need a student visa. But what exactly is a student visa and how long can it last?

The type of visa you will need will depend on where you plan to study, what kind of degree or program you have, and whether or not you intend to work while studying in the United States. There are three types of visas that students can apply for: F-1, M-1 and J-1. Each type has its own requirements, length of stay and restrictions on what activities students can engage in while they are studying in the United States.

How to Apply for an F1 Visa?

To application process for the F1 visa goes through the following steps:

  1. Get your admissions documents from the SEVP institution.
  2. Apply online through the DS-160 form.
  3. Pay the application fee.
  4. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
  5. Schedule your F1 visa interview.
  6. Submit the file with the F1 visa required documents.
  7. Attend the student visa interview.

Get your admissions documents from the SEVP institution

After you apply and are accepted into the school you want to attend, they will have to complete some procedures so that you can apply for the F1 visa. The most important document you need to have is Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Without this form, you will not be able to apply for an F1 student visa and attend your interview.

Apply online through the DS-160 form

After you get your Form I-20, you can start the usual application process. This includes filing the DS-160 form online with the necessary information about your visa status.

Pay the application fee

The application fee for the student visa is $160. You must pay this fee and get the receipt, which you will need later for your interview documents. You might have to pay additional fees based on your country of origin and the US Embassy you are applying from.

Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee

When you are admitted by the SEVP institution, your school immediately registers you in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). To have full registration, there is a SEVIS I-901 fee. For the F1 visa, this fee is $200.

Schedule your F1 visa interview

After filing the DS-160 form and paying the fees, you will need to schedule your interview. The interview is a mandatory step before you get your student visa. Try to schedule it as early as possible, since there might be delays due to the heavy workload of the US Embassy. When you schedule it, you will receive an interview appointment letter which you will need later on in the application process.

Submit the file with the required documents

Before you go to attend your interview, you should prepare your file with the required documents for students.

Attend the student visa interview

When you go to attend the student visa interview, the questions will mostly revolve around your reasons for going to the US and the institution you are going to. The interviewer will try to assess whether you intend to return to your home country after you complete your degree.

F1 Visa Validity

When your visa is approved, it might be for the full time that you will be in school in the US, or for less. If your study program takes 1 year to graduate, the Embassy will most likely give you a visa that is valid for 1 year If your degree program is 2 years and you only get the visa for 1 year, you should then later apply to renew it. In this case, it is the best option to renew the F1 visa.

The validity of your F1 visa is for as long as it is stated on your I-20 form and I-94 form which is given to you when you enter the US.

If you are renewing your visa you should follow the same procedure. You might be able to waive the interview on the reason that you have already done it once and your intent is to continue your education for the remaining years to get your degree.

If your visa is approved, you are allowed to depart for the US 30 days before your program begins. You cannot enter the US any earlier than that.

F1 Visa Processing Time

In most cases, you will get the response on this visa immediately after the interview. At the end of the visa interview, the interviewer might congratulate you for getting the visa or will provide you with a document letting you know the reason for denial. This is because the processing of this type of visa actually happens before your interview. The interview is the last step for the US Embassy to assess whether they should issue the visa.

There are, however, cases where the response and processing of the F1 visa takes a few days, so you should be patient if that happens.

When Should I Apply for the F1 Visa?

After you are admitted into the institution of your choice, you can apply for the visa 120 days before you are scheduled to start your program. You cannot apply any earlier, but applying later might cause you a delay due to processing times. So as soon as the 120-day countdown begins, make sure you submit your application.

Can I Stay Longer Than My Visa Allows?

After your visa expires, you have a 60 day grace period to prepare for your departure to your home country. If your visa doesn’t cover the whole time that you will be in school in the US, you will have to apply for renewal or extensions. The extensions are approved only if you can prove you will be completing your degree in the US and you intend to return as soon as it is over.

Can I Work as an International Student in the United States?

You may work as an F1 student but only for short periods of time since your visa is a student and not a work visa. You are allowed to work part-time on campus while school is in session and full time during breaks. If you want to work outside of campus, you have two options.

If you, for example, find a job that requires a different type of visa, other than F1, then you are also eligible to change status. You just need to work through the instructions of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and your employer or another petitioner.

Can F1 Students Apply for Permanent Residence?

Even though you have proved that you have strong ties to your home country, if you want to apply for a Green Card, you are allowed to do so on an F1 visa. It is a complicated procedure, though. You must either self-petition as a person with extraordinary abilities, get married in the US or prove that you will invest $500,000 in the US economy.

If these are not feasible for you, but you still want to remain in the US, the easiest way is to change status into a different type of visa such as an H-1B visa and have your employer sponsor you.

Travel Outside of the US

F1 visa students quite often have to travel abroad. They travel during university breaks or in case of emergencies. The travel can be to their own home countries or to other countries.

If you are an F1 visa student who wants to travel abroad, before you plan and book their travel you must follow some instructions. The instructions are to ensure that they can enter the United States again.


In case you have dependents, such as a spouse or unmarried children under 21 years old, they are allowed to come to the US too. This can be done with an F2 visa.

The F2 visa has no cap and dependents should just fulfill the requirements and complete the application procedures to get the visa. To be eligible for an F-2 visa, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be the spouse of an approved F1 visa holder, or
  • Be the unmarried child under 21 years old of an approved F1 visa holder
  • Have the financial means to support the family during your stay in the US

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