F-1 Student Visa from Bangladesh:
The most common visa for students wishing to study in the United States is the F-1 student visa. It is a temporary visa for foreign students who wish to study at an accredited school or college in the United States. The United States issued approximately 486,000 new F-1 visas in 2012. This is more than double the amount distributed the previous year.
The steps for applying for an F-1 student visa may differ depending on which US embassy or consulate you choose to submit your application to. To confirm the requirements for your specific US embassy or consulate, go to USEmbassy.Gov.
To start the process of obtaining an F-1 student visa, you must first:
- Fill out Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Bring this confirmation page from your application form to your F-1 student visa interview.
- Upload a Photo –
- Follow the photo requirements and submit your application online.
- After submitting your online application, you can schedule an interview at any US Embassy or Consulate. It is best to schedule an interview in the area where you have permanent residency. Apply for your F-1 student visa as soon as possible because interview wait times vary depending on location and season.
Requirements for an F-1 Student Visa:
The chosen program must be an accredited academic program, a language training program, or a vocational program.
The Student and Exchange Visitors Program, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, must accept the student’s school.
Full-time enrollment is required for the student.
The student must be able to demonstrate English language proficiency or be enrolled in courses to achieve that proficiency.
To be financially independent during the course of study, the student must have adequate funds.
The student must not give up his or her acquired residence in another country.
Student Visa Type F-1
There are a few documents that you must obtain prior to your F-1 student visa interview and bring with you on the day of the interview. Failure to provide these documents may jeopardize your F-1 student visa approval.
Passport Validity –
- Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your stay in the United States.
- Confirmation page for Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160
- Receipt for application fee payment
- Photo – If your photo did not upload while completing your online nonimmigrant visa application, you must bring a printed photo to the interview that meets the requirements.
- Nonimmigrant Eligibility Certificate (F-1 or M-1) Form I-20, Student Status – Once your information has been entered into the SEVIS database, your school will send you a SEVIS-generated Form I-20. The Form I-20 must be signed by both you and a school official.
Transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or certificates from schools you attended are examples of evidence of your academic preparation.
Your US school requires standardized test scores.
Your intention to leave the United States once the course of study is completed.
How you intend to pay for all educational, living, and travel expenses.
Interview for F-1 Visa
Digital fingerprints will be collected and stored during the F-1 student visa interview. Consular officials will determine whether you are qualified for the requested visa category and have met all of the requirements. Following the interview, your visa may be subject to additional administrative processing, which is usually completed within 60 days of the interview.
After the F-1 student visa is approved, you can check the visa processing time to see how long it will be before the visa is ready for pick up or delivery.
Commuters from Canada and Mexico:
The F-3 Visa is intended for Canadian and Mexican citizens who wish to study in the United States while remaining in their home country. Students must attend an accredited community/junior college, vocational school, or university located 75 miles from the United States’ land border port of entry. Students are not permitted to live in the United States.
Work Permit for F-1 Student Visa:
In their first year, F1 visa students are not permitted to work off-campus. They can, however, work on campus under certain conditions. After their first year, students may engage in certain types of off-campus employment as long as it is related to their field of study:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) –
CPT can be done full-time or part-time.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre- or post-graduation) – You may only work 20 hours per week while school is in session.
Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT) F-1 Visa to Green Card in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
Many people who come to the United States for work, family, or school want to make it their permanent home. However, converting from a nonimmigrant visa to an immigrant visa (green card) is not as simple as it sounds, particularly for certain visas. This is due to a feature known as “dual intent,” which allows the holder of a specific visa to pursue lawful permanent residence while in nonimmigrant status.
Some visas, such as the H-1B and L-1, have dual intent, while others do not. One of these unfortunate few is the F-1. Applying for a green card while in F-1 status may result not only in your green card being denied, but also in a violation of status and a temporary bar from re-entry into the United States.
So, if you entered the United States under F-1 status, can you get a green card?
The answer is yes, but it is not as simple as going from an F-1 to a green card. The first step would be for a student to change his or her status to a different nonimmigrant visa with dual intent, which is permitted under F-1 status. H-1B, E-1/E-2, L-1, and O-1 visas are some options to consider. If you meet the requirements for any of these visas, you must file (or have your employer file) an I-129 petition, along with the necessary fees and documentation. In the case of the H-1B, you will almost certainly have to contend with the annual lottery, which has specific requirements.
You will be able to apply for your green card immediately after receiving your dual intent visa. You must select the green card that best meets your qualifications. If you are a young student with little work experience, you should consider the EB-3. If you went to school later in life and have a master’s degree, the EB-2 may be a better option for you.
You or your employer must wait until your priority date is current before filing the green card petition. This is the day the USCIS receives your petition. You should keep an eye on the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin. When the final action date for your green card and country of origin matches or exceeds your priority date, your date becomes current, and a visa number becomes available.
You have two options at this point. Because you are already in the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, you can simply file an I-485 to have your status changed. This typically takes six months and can be costly. You can, on the other hand, choose consular processing, which requires you to fill out a DS-260 application and submit it to the US Consulate or Embassy in your home country for an interview. This may appear inconvenient, but depending on your consulate’s caseload, it may be the faster option.
If your I-485 application is approved or your consular interview is successful, you will be granted lawful permanent residence and your green card will be mailed to you.
How Immigration Lawyers at VisaNation Law Group Can Assist
If the participant wishes to extend his or her stay in the United States, VisaNation Law Group’s immigration attorneys are ready to help you with the F-1 Visa renewal process. Attorneys at VisaNation Law Group will also provide advice in cases of CPT, OPT, STEM extensions, visa changes, and employment extensions using the Cap Gap Rule. If the applicant is granted F-1 status, the holder’s spouse and unmarried minor children may apply for an F-2 Visa. Our knowledgeable attorneys are standing by to assist you.
The lawyers at VisaNation Law Group will assist you in obtaining the F-1 Visa and will provide the best strategy possible based on their extensive experience. Immigration lawyers provide personalized attention in order to provide the best, most efficient service. Even if the client has previously failed, F-1 Visa lawyers will be involved in every step of the process.
Processing Time for F-1:
One of the best aspects of American immigration law is that it welcomes students from all over the world. Obtaining an F-1 visa can be extremely advantageous and serve as a great stepping stone to other immigration opportunities. But how long does it take to process an F-1 visa? The answer depends on a number of factors, so let’s take a look at how to get an F-1 visa and how long it will take.
Overview of the F-1 Visa
Before we can get a better idea of how long your F-1 processing time will be, let’s go over what you’ll need to see this through from beginning to end.
Because the United States has some of the best educational institutions in the world, students come from all over the world to live, study, and work here on the F-1 visa. This is one of two student visas available, the other being the M-1, which is intended for vocational schools and other non-academic institutions. The F-1 visa, on the other hand, is for anyone enrolling in a private elementary, high school, college, or university in the United States. It also includes less well-known schools such as conservatories and seminaries.
To obtain an F-1 visa, you must demonstrate to the USCIS the following:
- That you have a permanent residence in your home country, which serves as an incentive to return once your studies are finished.
- That you have a strong connection and a compelling reason to return to your home country in the form of a job offer; assets such as a home, land, or car; close family members, or a bank account.
- That you will be able to support yourself during your stay in the United States.
- That you are being sponsored for your F-1 visa by a qualifying educational institution.
- When you have evidence of all four of the aforementioned criteria, you must have your school enter your information into the SEVIS database (Student and Exchange Visitor Program). Once this is completed, the school will be given an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, which must be signed before it is given to you.
You must complete the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application online as soon as you receive your I-20. You can schedule an interview with the US Consulate or Embassy in your home country once you have completed it and paid the fee. You must bring the confirmation page and payment receipt for the DS-160, as well as your I-20, passport, and a portrait-style photo of yourself.
Keep in mind that not everyone will be asked to participate in an interview, as it primarily applies to those aged 14 to 79. However, the consular officer reserves the right to interview anyone applying for a visa to the United States.
Following your interview and presentation of all required documents, you will most likely be asked for biometrics (fingerprints), and your passport will be held and returned to you later with your visa inside. It’s a good idea to wait until your visa has been sent to you before making travel plans for any visa, because approval is not guaranteed and it can sometimes take a few weeks for the consulate to return your passport and visa.
How long does it take to process an F-1 visa?
Finally, the processing time for your F-1 visa is determined by your school or institution. Some schools advise you to allow a few weeks for I-20 processing, while others may take several months. To learn more about your petition, contact your school.
When it comes to your student visa interview, you should give yourself plenty of time. Many prospective F-1 students make the mistake of missing flights or school start dates due to consulate delays. It may take up to two months for the consulate to respond with an interview appointment time after you submit your DS-160 application. The appointment can then be scheduled for a week or two in the future, so leave plenty of time.
Overall, you should allow at least five to six weeks for your F-1 processing time between your I-20 and consular interview. To get a better idea of what to expect, contact your school, the US consulate, and your immigration attorney.
How long does it take to process an F-1 OPT for an EAD?
To be eligible for Optional Practical Training while studying on an F-1 visa, you must first complete the following steps:
Your DSO (designated school official) must recommend you for OPT on your I-20 and in SEVIS.
An I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, also known as an EAD, must be filed.
It could take up to ten days for the USCIS to notify you that your I-785 has been received. If your application is approved, it could take between one and two months for you to receive notification and be scheduled for a biometrics appointment.
You will be able to work under your OPT while studying on your F-1 visa once you receive your EAD.
How Long Does It Take to Reinstate My F-1 Visa?
If you lose your F-1 status and want to continue your studies, you may be able to apply for reinstatement. However, if your status was revoked because you worked illegally, you will be unable to reinstate your F-1 visa. In this case, you must leave the country as soon as possible or risk being considered “out of status.”
To be reinstated as an immigrant student, you must re-enroll in your school and have another I-20 issued to you. You will also need to file an I-539 form correctly. Because this form serves several purposes, it is best to have an immigration attorney assist you in filling it out.
A cover letter explaining why you lost your F-1 status is required. This should explain why your loss of status was unavoidable and why you should be reinstated.
Once this is completed, you may have to wait up to four months for your F-1 reinstatement to be processed.
Can I Make Use of Premium Processing?
Unfortunately, the premium processing service, which reduces processing time to 15 calendar days for a fee, is only available for certain visas that use the I-129 and I-140 petitions. The F-1 is not eligible for premium processing because it uses the I-20.
Can I Change My Status to Apply for a Green Card?
So, you’ve had a great time working and studying in the United States; what can you do to extend your stay? You can either switch to another temporary nonimmigrant visa or apply for a green card. Unfortunately, there is only one issue. The F-1 visa does not permit dual entry. As a result, you will almost certainly have to do both.
Nonimmigrant visas with dual intent allow holders to pursue green card status while on their temporary visa. Dual intent visas include the H-1B, L-1, and O-1 visas. Because the F-1 visa does not fall into this category, applying for a green card while still in school may violate your F-1 visa.
As evidenced by the F-1 requirements, you must maintain a strong indication that you intend to return home after completing your studies. Filing for your green card does the opposite and may result in future difficulties obtaining the green card.
To avoid complications and status violations, try changing your status first. By changing from F-1 to H-1B status, you put yourself in the position of dual intent, allowing you to apply for your green card without complications. However, you must still meet the requirements for the new visa.
The H-1B visa may appear to be the best option (especially if you are in the STEM OPT), but you must have a bachelor’s degree for a specialty position. Furthermore, unless your new employer is a non-profit, government, or educational institution, your petition will be entered into a lottery, and you will have to hope that your petition is chosen among thousands of others.
Another popular visa is the L-1, which requires you to be an executive, manager, or specialized employee of a multinational corporation with a presence in the United States. Keep in mind that “specialized employee” should not be confused with “specialty employee” who is H-1B eligible. A specialized employee has in-depth knowledge of the company’s operations or product and does not need to have any formal education in that field to be eligible for an L-1 visa.
However, for an L-1 visa, you must work for the employer overseas for at least one year in the three years preceding the petition’s filing, so you must factor that into your processing time.
You can learn more about the differences between H-1B and L-1 visas by reading this article.
Processing Time From F-1 Visa to Green Card
If you decide to use one of these visas to change your status before applying for an employment-based green card, you must find a sponsor and have that sponsor file an I-129 petition on your behalf. In the case of the H-1B visa, you must have your employer obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) on your behalf.
The exact processing times for the H-1B and L-1 visas vary depending on your case, but the I-129 typically takes six months to complete. With the I-129 visas, however, you can use premium processing to reduce your processing time to just 15 calendar days.
Once you have your dual intent visa, you can immediately have your employer (either your current or new employer) file an I-140 petition on your behalf, which takes an average of six months to process. Premium processing may be available, but keep in mind that it is not available for EB-1C or EB-2 with a National Interest Waiver.
Summary: Difference Between F-1 and J-1 Visa
There are numerous distinctions between F-1 and J-1 visas. While both are appropriate for foreign students and professionals who want to study in the United States, some key differences are related to your ability to work during and after your studies. Your funding requirements will vary greatly depending on the type of visa you choose. A quick comparison summary is provided in the table below.
|J-1 Visa||F-1 Visa|
|Funding||Your financial support must come primarily from sources other than your personal savings or the support of family and friends. Scholarships, grants, fellowships, assistantships, research funding, or funding from your home country’s government, corporate sector, or other organizations must account for more than 51% of your total funding.||Any funding source is regarded as acceptable. It can range from private or familial funds to government scholarships or business funding. There are no limitations on the kind of financing you need.|
|2 Year Home Residency Requirement||Yes, however, there are exceptions.||Not applicable to F-1 visa holders.|
|Employment||Allowed to work up to 20 hours per week (part-time). Must obtain work authorization. Only allowed to work at the educational institution and the job must be related to the field of study.||Allowed to work during studies if the position is part of a paid or unpaid academic internship. Also allowed to work after studies for up to 12 -24 months, depending on your field of study.|
|Grace Period||You will have 30 days to leave the U.S. after the completion of your studies.||You will have 60 days to leave the U.S. after the completion of your employment or studies.|
|Health Insurance||Must have health insurance for the duration of your stay in the U.S.||Health insurance is not required, however, many educational institutions may require you to have one.|
Depending on the type of green card you seek, filing an I-140 may necessitate the acquisition of a PERM Labor Certification by your employer. This means that your employer must post job ads and go through a recruitment process to ensure that no qualified U.S. workers are available for your position.
Under normal circumstances, the PERM process can take anywhere from six to nine months. However, if your employer is subjected to supervised recruitment or audited (either by chance or because the Department of Labor believes the recruitment report is fraudulent), your PERM processing time could be extended by a year and a half.
Dates of Priority
Once your I-140 is submitted, you must keep track of the date it is received by the USCIS. This will be your priority date, which must be compared to the final action dates listed in the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin. The final action dates vary depending on your country of origin and the type of green card you seek.
You can proceed to the next step once your priority date matches or exceeds the final action date in your category. However, the longest step in the F-1 to green card processing time is sometimes waiting for your priority date to be “current.” For example, if you are an Indian national seeking an EB-3 green card, you may be forced to wait nearly a decade.
If you are from Central America and applying for an EB-1, you may not have to wait at all. Because processing times vary greatly, it’s a good idea to ask your immigration attorney what you can expect.
Furthermore, if your priority date is not going to be current for some time, the USCIS may not process your I-140 until it is. So, if you have to wait four years for your priority date to become current, your petition may not be processed until those four years are nearly over. Unless you opt for premium processing. Even so, you’ll still have to wait the full four years.
Green Card Transfer
How about green card portability? Let us begin with an example. Assume you graduate with a STEM bachelor’s degree while on F-1 status, change to H-1B status, and apply for an EB-3 green card as a professional worker. Depending on your nationality, you could be waiting for your priority date to become current for several years.
If you obtain a master’s degree and a new job that requires your new degree during the waiting period, you may be able to have your employer (current or new) file a new petition for an EB-2 while retaining the original priority date from the first petition. In this case, you could shave years off the F-1 to green card processing time!
Remember that this is a delicate process that requires you to find a new job that requires your EB-2 qualifications. Consult with an immigration attorney to see if this is a viable option for you.
Changing Your Situation
Because you are already in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you will have two options for completing the final step from F-1 to green card status:
Adjustment of Status – This option is available only to those who are already in the United States. It entails submitting an I-485 form to the USCIS in order to have your status changed from nonimmigrant to immigrant. This form takes about six months to process, and there is no premium processing available.
Consular Processing entails traveling to your home country to conduct a one-on-one interview with a consular officer. This may appear to be less advantageous than status adjustment, but depending on your circumstances, it may be both cheaper and faster to process.
Following that, you will be sent your green card, which will be added to your passport. You will have completed the entire process of moving from an F-1 visa to a green card and will be a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
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)
F-1 students may also be eligible to work off-campus on a case-by-case basis as a result of special situations such as severe economic hardship or special student relief. 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 training employment must be related to their area of study and must be authorized prior to starting any work by the Designated School Official (the person authorized to maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)) and USCIS.
For more information on the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, see the Student & Exchange Visitor Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement and the Study in the States Training Opportunities in the United States pages.
In general, only noncitizens who have permission from DHS to work can apply for a Social Security number. Find additional information about International Students and Social Security Numbers (PDF) on the Social Security Administration website.
How VisaNation Law Group Immigration Lawyers Can Assist
Whatever visa you are applying for, the process is often filled with documents, forms, fees, and other minutiae that can easily cost you a significant amount of time and money if not completed properly. The best way to protect your immigration investment is to hire a professional to handle all of the tedious details so that you can concentrate on your studies in the United States.
At VisaNation, we have assisted countless students just like you in studying and working in the United States. We handle everything from the initial consultation to the time you receive your F-1 visa. Fill out this contact form to schedule a consultation with our office to find out how long your F-1 processing time will be.