Obtaining a Student Visa for Study in the U.S.– Woburn Immigration Lawyer Explains How

If you are seeking to attend a university, college, conservatory, or other academic institution in the U.S., you need a student F-1 visa. If your course of study is 18 hours or more a week, you must have a student visa. A Woburn immigration attorney can help you through the complicated process.

If you are not currently in the U.S.

The first step is to apply to a qualified school. Once you are accepted, you must obtain a Form I-20 from the school.

After the school enters your information into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), you must schedule an “Initial Entry Visa Interview” with your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You will need the following information for your interview:

  • Form I-20.
  • SEVIS I-901 receipt.
  • Signed passport (must be valid for 6 months after entry into the U.S.).
  • Transcripts or diplomas from current or previous schools.
  • Course study description.
  • Information about living arrangements.
  • Evidence of sufficient payment for tuition and living expenses for the shorter of the length of your study or one year.
  • Your local U.S. Embassy/Consulate may require additional forms. Check with your local embassy/consulate website.

Changing status if you are already in the U.S.

If you are already in the U.S. on a tourist visa and are looking to change to an F-1 student visa status, you must first choose the school you wish to attend and fill out their international application form. Once the school accepts your application, you must obtain Form I-20 from the school and be added to the SEVIS database. You must then mail the following documents to USCIS:

    • Form I-539 (application for change of status).
    • Form I-20.
    • Copy of Form I-94.
    • Copy of passport.
    • Copy of entry visa.
    • Proof of funds.
    • SEVIS receipt.

Your Cambridge immigration lawyer can help you gather and prepare these documents. It usually takes about two weeks to receive a confirmation letter with an application receipt number. You can check your application status by entering your receipt number in the USCIS Case Status website.

Once you apply for change of status your record has been added to the SEVIS database, you may stay in the U.S. until your application is either approved or denied. This usually takes about 2 to 4 months.
Family Members

If your spouse or children are visiting the U.S with you as your dependents, they can apply for F-2 Family of Foreign Student status when you apply to change your status to F-1. A Cambridge immigration attorney can help you prepare this application.

Maintaining Student Status

Length of Study

To maintain your F-1 student visa status you must be enrolled full time at an approved school.

Vacation/Medical Leave

An F-1 student at an academic institution is considered to be in status during regular school vacations if the student is eligible and intends to register for the next term.

If a medical condition arises that requires you to be absent from your classes for an extended period of time, you must fill out the required paperwork.

Travel Outside the U.S.

If you are in the U.S. on a student visa, but plan to travel outside the U.S., make sure you are aware of the following:

      • You need a Form I-20 with current information that is signed by the DSO allowing travel outside of the United States.
      • Your visa and passport need to be valid and not expired when you reenter the U.S.
      • You cannot reenter the U.S. during the grace period granted after completing a program of study (unless the student has traveled to Canada, Mexico, or a contiguous island).

Completing Studies

If you complete your course of study and any authorized practical training following the course, you may stay in the U.S. for up to 60 more days to prepare for departure or to transfer to a different academic institution.
Academic Failure

Failure to attend, academic failure, or other violations of the school’s policies may endanger your status as a student. Expulsion from the school which has issued you your Form I-20 takes away your right to legally remain in the U.S.

Contact Us

For help obtaining a student visa and answers to your questions about immigration issues, contact a Woburn immigration lawyer from Ionson Law at 781-674-2562.