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  F-1 Visa Index

In this section we attempt to list and define the key terms that apply to Student Visa, including various visa application terms and types of visa. You will find the list of terms below.

Proof of Funds

A prospective foreign student is required to demonstrate Proof of Availability of Funds when he applies for F-1 student visa in or outside of the United States. USCIS or an Officer at the local US Embassy need to be sure that the student can live in the US and pay his tuition without working, which is permitted for foreign students only under rare circumstances. Proof of Availability of Funds can be demonstrated either by the prospective student directly, or through Sponsorship. The following is a list of the standard requirements and conditions for Proof of Funds.

  • All financial support documents must be dated within 6 months of the intended program start date or date of extension request.
  • All financial support documents must be in English, or with an official translation into English from the bank attached.
  • All bank statements and bank letters must be on bank letterhead and include the name of the account holder, account number, and specific amount of funds.
  • The name of the sponsor on the affidavit of support must match the name of the account holder on the bank statement or bank letter.
  • All funds must be readily accessible and liquid, such as savings accounts and checking accounts. Investments with fluctuating values are generally not recommended as viable proof of funds.
  • An F-1 student may not act as a sponsor for a fellow F-1 student.
  • There are seven types of sponsorship that an F-1 student can have:
    • Change of Status – US Sponsor
      • Affidavit of Support (Notarized)
      • Income Tax Return or letter from employer stating annual salary
      • Change of Status – Sponsor Abroad
        • Guarantee letter of support
      • Change of Status – Self Sponsor
      • Initial Entry – US Sponsor
        • Affidavit of Support (Notarized)
        • Income Tax Return or letter from employer stating annual salary
      • Initial Entry – Sponsor Abroad
        • Guarantee letter of support
      • Initial Entry – Self Sponsor
      • Transfer–In – Self Sponsor, US Sponsor, or Sponsor Abroad
        • Recent bank statement with appropriate amount of funds for duration of I-20

Form I-20

The official title of SEVIS form I-20 is "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – For Academic and Language Studies." This form tells USCIS who you are, where you live, what you want to study, when your classes begin, how long your studies are going to take, and how you are going to pay for your tuition, room, and board while you are in school. If you are granted F-1 status, your form I-20 is the most important document you will posses, in addition to your Form I-94. Current form I-20 also serves as evidence of the legality of your presence in the U.S.

Form I-539

Form I-539 is required by USCIS for nonimmigrants in the United States planning on applying for an extension of stay or a change of current status. You may include your spouse and your unmarried children under age 21 years as co-applicants in your application for the same extension or change of status, if you are currently in the same status. You are required to submit with your Form I-539 the original copy of Form I-94 (Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record), a valid passport, and proof of funds depending on the applicant's nature of application.

USCIS Fee (cashiers check or money order for the amount of $300 to: US Department of Homeland Security)

Form I-94

A USCIS form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) shows the date you arrived in the United States and the "Admitted Until" date, the date when your authorized period of stay expires. You will receive form I-94 from an airline representative when arriving at an airport. The form must be completed and presented to a USCIS inspector who may ask you questions about the purpose of your trip, how long you will be in the United States, and your residence abroad. A USCIS form I-94 which has been approved by a USCIS inspector is the evidence of your legal arrival in the U.S. and your legal presence in the country. In addition, by turning in USCIS form I-94 to the proper authorities upon departure from the U.S., you can prove that you did not break the law by remaining in the country illegally beyond the authorized period. If your form I-94 is stolen, you are responsible for replacing it. If you apply for an extension of stay or change of status, USCIS will issue you an updated form I-94 with the new expiration date.

Filling out Form I-94: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Form I-94 info guide: United States Immigration Support


Each school approved by USCIS to educate foreign students must have at least one Designated School Official (DSO) who is responsible for the school’s compliance with the USCIS rules regarding foreign students and foreign applicants. The DSO creates and updates an electronic record for each foreign student in SEVIS. The DSO is involved in enrollment, change of major, change of school, practical training, visa extension, visa reinstatement, school completion, and school withdrawal processes concerning the foreign student. The DSO issues and signs all necessary SEVIS forms including form I-20. Every foreign student interacts with the DSO either directly or through the Admissions of Foreign Students office staff.


USCIS (United States Citizenship & Immigration Services) is the government agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.

The following Immigration Forms can be accessed through USCIS:

    • I-1344 Affidavit of Support
    • AR-11 Change of Address
    • I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document
    • I-539 Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
    • G-884 Return of Original Documents
    • I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition

Nonimmigrants admitted to the United States temporarily to pursue full-time academic studies in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, other academic institutions, and in language training fall under the F-1 category. Throughout this website they are referred to as Foreign Students.

The spouse and minor children accompanying or following to join an F-1 student are eligible for admission in F-2 status if the student is admitted in F-1 status.

Other Types of Visa

The J1 Visa is used if the exchange visitor presents a SEVIS Form DS-2019 issued in his or her own name by a program approved by the Department of State for participation by J-1 exchange visitors. Participants in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program are expected to return to their home countries upon completion of their intended progarm of study. Exchange visitors on J-1 Visas may apply for F-1 status once they are in the United States.

    • "No Objection Statement:" In this written statement, the embassy of the home country of the J-1 student informs the US Department of State that it has no objection to the exchange visitor not returning to the home country to satisfy the two-year foreign residence requirement.
    • Class Start times: If you were J-1 before applying for change of status, you must start classes in the school which issued you form I-20 within 1 month after the expiration of your I-94. If you are a B1/B2 visitor you are not permitted to be in class until your change of status to F-1 is approved by USCIS. If you had a different status before applying for F-1, ask your school DSO when you need to be in class.

B-1 and B-2 Visa: The visitor visa is a non-immigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business, pleasure or medical treatment. Visitors on B-1/B-2 Visa can change their status to F-1 once they are in the United States.

The H-1B


SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is a web-based system for collecting, managing, and reporting information on foreign students, exchange visitors, and their dependents temporarily in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status. Your school DSO uses SEVIS to register you for classes every term. The Department of Homeland Security receives instantaneous information on schools, exchange visitor programs, students, and exchange visitors through SEVIS. SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) manages SEVIS and provides policy support and program administration for F, M, and J nonimmigrant.

    • SEVIS I-9011 Each student or exchange visitor issued an initial Form I-20 or DS-2019 on or after September 1, 2004 is responsible for paying this fee to SEVP.