An F-1 non-immigrant visa is an immigration document that permits a citizen of a foreign country to enter the U.S. to pursue a full course of study at an academic institution that is SEVP-certified and has been authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to offer courses to foreign students. At the completion of studies, the student is required to return to his or her residence abroad.
Below are acronyms and definitions that you will need to be familiar with during your studies.
- SEVP-Student and Exchange Visitor Program
- SEVIS-SEVIS is an Internet-based system that allows schools and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to exchange data on the visa status of international students. Accurate and current information is transmitted electronically throughout an F-1 student's academic career in the United States.
- DSO-Designated School Official is the school administrator responsible for issuing I-20s and advising F-1 students. At Trident Technical College the International Admissions Coordinator and the Director of Admissions are DSOs. As an F-1 student you must regularly communicate with the International Admissions Coordinator to ensure you maintain legal status while in the U.S.
Steps to Becoming an F-1 Student
From Outside the United States
- Submit complete application packet to Trident Technical College, meet all admission requirements and be accepted by TTC.
- Furnish proof of sufficient funding to the school and submit required tuition deposit.
- When a school accepts a non-immigrant applicant, it issues a Form I-20 for initial attendance. Prospective non-immigrant students may apply to more than one SEVP-certified school but must choose one and use the Form I-20 from that school when applying for a visa.
- After receiving the Form I-20, the prospective non-immigrant student must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
- The prospective non-immigrant student must then obtain a student visa from an embassy or consulate abroad or, if from a visa-exempt country such as Canada or Bermuda, apply for admittance at a U.S. Port of Entry (POE).
- Please visit the U.S. Department of State website for additional information concerning visa-exempt countries.
- After obtaining an F-1 visa, the prospective student may apply for entry into the United States through a U.S. POE no more than 30 days prior to the program start date on the student's Form I-20.
From Within the United States
- Be in the United States in a valid non-immigrant status and eligible to change to F-1 (See USCIS website on who may change status).
- Be accepted by an SEVP-certified school, receive a Form I-20, and pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.
- Use a Form I-539 to apply to USCIS for a change of status.
- Receive approval from USCIS for the change of status.
- Be prepared to depart the United States immediately if the change of status application is denied.
F-2 Dependent Information
- An F-2 spouse may not engage in a full course of study, but may engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study.
- The F-2 spouse may still engage in study that is merely avocational or recreational in nature. To engage in a full course of study, an F-2 spouse must apply for and be granted F-1, M-1, or J-1 status.
- An F-2 child may engage in study at an SEVP-certified school in the United States as long as they are enrolled in less than a full course of study at the post-secondary level.
- An F-2 child may also engage in recreational or avocational study. To study full-time at the post-secondary level, the child must apply for and be granted F-1, M-1, or J-1 status.
- F-2 dependents are not permitted to be employed in the United States.