F-1 Prospective Students
One of the forms you will need to apply for an F-1 visa is an I-20 form, which is issued by the school. Before we can issue the I-20 form, you must provide us with information to show that you have enough financial support to cover the estimated cost of attendance. We will need to see proof of financial ability from you or your sponsor, which is usually in the form of an official bank statement. If you will be receiving a scholarship, you may reduce the amount that you need to prove by the amount of the scholarship. Every dollar not provided by you or a scholarship must be promised in an affidavit by a sponsor.
In order to receive an I-20 you will need to complete and return the F-1 packet to us after you are admitted into an OHSU degree program. Once we receive this information we will be able to process your I-20 and mail it to you.
For a complete list of all Degree Programs, please visit the Find a Degree Program site.
- Complete the F-1 packet and return it to the Department of Immigration Services.
- Enroll at OHSU in the first term after leaving your previous school. You must be eligible to begin classes within 5 months of transferring out of your current school or within 5 months of the program completion date on your I-20, whichever is earlier. If you are currently on OPT you must be able to begin study within 5 months of transferring out of the school that recommended OPT or the date the OPT authorization ends, whichever is later. Students on OPT following completion of studies are eligible for transfer through the end of the 60-day grace period after completion of OPT.
- Check in with the Department of Immigration Services when you first arrive on campus to complete the transfer process.
You must include the following documents with your application for an F-1 visa:
- Form I-20
- Evidence of financial ability to meet expenses: You must provide proof that you have enough funding to cover tuition, health insurance, and living expenses. If you have received a scholarship you must provide evidence of that scholarship through a scholarship award letter or something similar. If you are planning to use personal funds you must show that you have adequate funding for the entire course of study and that the money can be taken out of your home country. If a sponsor will be supporting your course of study you must provide proof that he/she has funds adequate to support you throughout your course of study, along with a letter or affidavit of support from your sponsor pledging his/her support.
- Evidence of English proficiency and intention and ability to study: You must provide proof that you have been unconditionally accepted into an academic program. You will need to take your I-20 form and your acceptance letter with you to the visa interview. You will also want to provide evidence that demonstrates that you have the skills necessary to successfully complete the course of study to which you have been admitted. The following types of documents can be used in demonstrating your skills: diplomas, transcripts showing the course you have taken, TOEFL score report and other score reports such as GRE and GMAT, etc.
- Evidence of intent to depart the United States after completion of studies: The main reason that prospective students are denied visas is because they fail to prove to the consulate officer that they will return to their home country once they have completed their courses of study. An F-1 visa is a temporary visa, so you must prove that you intend to return to your home country when you have finished your course of study. This can be proved by showing ties to your home country. The following types of evidence can be used in showing your ties: evidence that shows you or your family own a business and/or property in your home country; evidence that a company in your home country will give you a job when you return; evidence that you have the skills necessary to succeed in the fields that are in demand in your home country.
- A valid passport
- Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
- Photograph: Must follow the Department of State's requirements
- Machine Readable Visa (MRV) surcharge fee
- Visa Reciprocity Fee (if applicable)
- SEVIS fee: A $200 SEVIS fee must be paid prior to applying for a F-1 visa. This can be done online. You must take the receipt with you to the visa interview.
The U.S. Embassy website will provide you with information on applying for a visa at U.S. consulates located around the world. You will want to be familiar with the rules and procedures of issuing visas before you apply for yours. Since visa procedures vary depending on what consulate you go to it is recommended that you check the site for the procedures at the U.S. consulate you plan on going to.
When you arrive at the U.S. port of entry you must present the documents listed below to the immigration official:
- A valid passport (unless you are exempt from the passport requirement)
- A valid F-1 visa (unless you are exempt from the visa requirement, i.e. Canadian citizens)
- Evidence of Financial Support
- Form I-20
Most nonimmigrants in the United States may apply for a change of status to F-1 if he/she has maintained lawful nonimmigrant status. However, certain immigration categories prevent you from applying for a change of status in the United States (i.e. persons in J status subject to the two-year residency requirement, persons who entered on the visa waiver program, etc.). Please contact the Department of Immigration Services to determine if you are eligible to apply for a change of status.
Nonimmigrants in B-1 or B-2 status
A nonimmigrant in B status may not attend school until the Department of Homeland Security has approved his or her application for a change of status to an F or M nonimmigrant student. Enrolling in school before the change of status is approved is a violation of nonimmigrant status.
Nonimmigrants in F-2 status
A nonimmigrant spouse in F-2 status may not engage in full time study and an F-2 child may only engage in full time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through 12th grade). The F-2 spouse and child may only engage in study that is avocational or recreational in nature. An F-2 desiring to engage in full time study, other than study in an elementary or secondary school must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1 or M-1 status. Enrolling in school before the change of status is approved is a violation of nonimmigrant status.
In order to apply for a change of status you must submit a completed application packet to the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over your place of residence. The following documents are required for a change of status application:
- Form I-539
- Filing fee of in the form of a check or money order made out to the Department of Homeland Security
- Financial documentation (the same documentation you submitted in order to receive the I-20)
- A copy of your I-94 admission record
- A copy of the biography page and extension pages of your passport
- A copy of your U.S. visa (if applicable — Canadians are not required to have a visa to enter the U.S.)
- Copies of documentation verifying the validity of your current immigration status. Please contact the Department of Immigration Services for a list of documents required for your particular status.
- SEVIS fee: A $200 SEVIS fee must be paid prior to applying for change of status to F-1. This can be done online. Include a copy of the receipt with the application.
If you have dependents that will be applying for a change of status with you they must also submit a copy of their I-20s, I-94s, passport, visa and documentation verifying the validity of their current status.
If you would like help with your change of status application please contact the Department of Immigration Services.
F-1 Current Students
It is extremely important that you maintain F-1 status, since certain violations of status may be grounds for deportation under U.S. Immigration Law. This means that you must meet certain requirements of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Please note that it is your responsibility to make sure that your I-20 is valid during your course of study here. Your I-94 record (created at the time of entry into the United States) will be marked D/S, Duration of Status by the immigration officer at the port of entry, but your status is controlled by program end date listed on your I-20.
What you need to do to maintain F-1 status:
- Have a passport that is kept valid at all times, unless exempt from the passport requirement.
- Attend the school you were authorized to attend.
- Maintain a full-course of study each term (vacation period excluded). You are only allowed to take one 3-credit distance learning class per term towards your full-course of study requirement. A full-course of study is 12 credits for undergraduate students and 9 credits for graduate students.
- Apply for an extension in the 30-day period PRIOR TO the program end date on your I-20.
- Obtain a new I-20 from the Department of Immigration Services if you change departments or change from one degree level to another.
- Limit authorized on-campus employment to 20 hours a week while in school.
- Refrain from off-campus employment without authorization.
- Report a change of residence to the Department of Immigration Services within 10 days of the change so it can be reported to DHS via SEVIS.
- Remain in the U.S. for no longer than 60 days after completing a full course of study, unless prior to that time you have followed procedures for applying for optional practical training, moving educational levels, school transfer or a change of immigration status.
You are admitted to the United States to work towards the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. The subject matter and level of education you are seeking is indicated in the program of study section on your I-20. If you change departments or educational levels you must obtain a new I-20 from the Department of Immigration Services.
If you will not complete your program by the program end date indicated on your current I-20 you must comply with DHS procedures for an extension. Applications for an extension must be made to the Department of Immigration Services PRIOR to the expiration date on your I-20.
You are eligible for a program extension if:
- You have continually maintained status
- The delay in completion is "caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses."
- You ARE NOT eligible for an extension because of "delays caused by academic probation or suspension."
If you fail to complete your program within the time prescribed on your I-20 and cannot meet the eligibility criteria for program extension you are considered to be out of status and must apply for reinstatement to student status with the DHS.
If you are maintaining your F-1 status you may transfer from one DHS approved school to another by following the transfer procedures below. If you have not maintained your F-1 status you are NOT eligible for a school transfer and must apply for reinstatement.
- Inform the Department of Immigration Services of your intention to transfer and obtain verification that you have been maintaining status and are eligible for a transfer. This is usually done by using a transfer form from the school you are planning on transferring to.
- Obtain a new I-20 from the school you are transferring to.
- Enroll in the new school in the first term after leaving OHSU or the first term after vacation. The start date at the transfer-in school must be within 5 months following the release date set by OHSU, or within 5 months of the program completion date in SEVIS, whichever date is earlier. For students on optional practical training following completion of a course of study, a transfer can be done only if the student can begin studying at the new school within 5 months of transferring out of the school that recommended OPT or the date the OPT authorization ends, whichever is earlier. Students on OPT following completion of studies are eligible for transfer through the end of the 60-day grace period after completion of OPT.
- Check into to the office that works with F-1 students at your new school within 15 days of beginning attendance at the new school.
An F-1 student who is currently maintaining F-1 status may engage in part-time on-campus employment while attending school. An F-1 student may engage in full-time on-campus employment during official school breaks and during the student's annual vacation quarter. An F-1 student IS NOT permitted to engage in on-campus employment after completing his/her course of study unless she/he has another form of work authorization. (Part-time employment is defined as 20 hours or fewer per week while school is in session. Full-time employment is defined as more than 20 hours per week.)
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
OPT is available for up to 12 months to F-1 students after the completion of 1 academic year (9 consecutive months of full time study), with the approval of the Department of Immigration Services and with authorization from the Department of Homeland Security.
- Completion of 1 academic year (3 quarters of full-time study) as an F-1 student or in a different nonimmigrant category that allows studies such as H-4, etc. However, you must be in F-1 status at the time you apply for OPT.
- Employment taken under OPT must be directly related to your course of study.
- A student is ineligible for OPT if he/she has used full-time curricular practical training for one year or more. The use of part-time curricular practical training does not affect the eligibility for OPT.
- You must apply for OPT no later than 60-days after your program completion date.
A student is only allowed a total of 12 months of OPT after each level of degree completed. For example, a student is eligible for 12 months after the completion of a master's degree and another 12 months after the completion of a Ph.D. degree.
Categories of Optional Practical Training
- Pre-completion Optional Practical Training: OPT is permissible full-time (more than 20 hours a week) during a student's annual vacation quarter and part-time (less than 20 hours a week) while school is in session.
- Post-completion Optional Practical Training: Available full-time after the completion of a student's course of study and is also available to Ph.D. and Thesis master's students after completion of all the course requirements for the degree excluding the thesis or dissertation.
In order to apply for OPT you must complete the OPT packet and contact the Department of Immigration Services for an appointment to complete the application procedures.
OPT STEM Extension
A 24-month OPT extension is available for F-1 students who have graduated with a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in a specified STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field and are working for an E-verify employer. View a list of designated STEM fields.
For information on STEM eligibility criteria, reporting requirements, etc. please visit the Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States STEM OPT Hub website at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub .
In order to apply for the OPT STEM Extension you must complete the OPT STEM packet and return it to the Department of Immigration Services.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
CPT is employment in an internship position which is an integral part of your study.
- Completion of 1 academic year (3 quarters of full-time study) as an F-1 student or in a different nonimmigrant category that allows studies such as H-4, etc. However, you must be in F-1 status at the time you apply for CPT.
- CPT is only available before you complete your program of study.
- The employment must be an internship position which is an integral part of your course of study.
- You must have an offer of employment from an employer offering work that qualifies as CPT. CPT can only be authorized for a specific employer.
- Approval from your academic advisor who is required to supervise your CPT.
Complete the CPT Application Packet and contact the Department of Immigration Services for an appointment to complete the application procedures.
Important information about CPT:
- You will not be eligible for optional practical training if you accumulate 12 months or more of full-time CPT. Participation in part-time CPT does not effect your eligibility for optional practical training.
- You are only authorized to work for the employer, the period of time, and the number of hours per week typed on the back of your I-20 by the Department of Immigration Services. Any deviation in employment from what is typed on your I-20 will be considered unauthorized employment and a status violation.
Immigration regulations require that you carry your immigration paperwork on you at all times. It is highly recommended that you carry the following documents with you when you travel domestically or internationally:
- Your current I-20 signed on the back by the Department of Immigration Services within the last 12 months
- Valid passport
- A valid visa (if reentering from abroad, unless traveling to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands for less than 30 days)
- Your I-94 record (if reentering the United States from a trip abroad you will receive a new I-94 record, unless you are reentering from Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island after a trip of less than 30 days)
Trips to Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands
You may reenter the United States without a valid visa after a trip of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands. In order to take advantage of this provision you must be maintaining valid F-1 status, have a valid passport (unless exempt from passport requirements), have a current I-20 endorsed for travel by the Department of Immigration Services, and have a valid I-94 record.
Please be aware that if you travel to Canada or Mexico to apply for a new visa you will not be able to reenter the U.S. under the revalidation provisions stated above if your visa application is denied for any reason.
Citizens or nationals of Iran, Syria, and Sudan are also not eligible for the revalidation provisions and must have a valid visa to reenter the U.S. after a trip to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands.
Anyone who has been an overstay under INA 222(g) is also not eligible for the revalidation provisions and must obtain a new visa in his/her home country to reenter the U.S.
Entry requirements for Canada
Canada now requires all Canadian visa-exempt foreign nationals to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to fly or transit through Canada. Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid Canadian visa. Please make sure you apply for an ETA before you book your flight to Canada. Most applicants get approved within minutes. However, some applications can take several days to process, so do not wait until the last minute. Please also make sure that you check to see if you need a visa to enter Canada.
Airport transit visa requirements for countries in the European Union
France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden are now requiring that nationals from several countries including India obtain "airport transit visas" for connecting flights. If you are from one of the designated countries you are required to obtain the airport transit visa even if you will not be leaving the airport under certain circumstances.
Please check with the embassies of the countries you will be landing in before you leave the U.S. to determine whether or not you will need an airport transit visa.
If you wish to have a dependent join you in the United States you must obtain a new dependent I-20 for each family member so they can apply for visas and enter the United States. A dependent of an F-1 student will need the following documents to apply for a F-2 visa:
- Form I-20 as described above
- Copies of your immigration documents: current I-20, visa and I-94 record
- A letter from the Department of Immigration Services verifying your status
- Evidence of financial ability to meet expense
- Marriage certificate or birth certificate
- Evidence of intent to depart the United States after the F-1 completes his/her studies
- Valid passport
- Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
- Photograph: Must meet Department of State's requirements
- Machine Readable Visa (MRV) surcharge fee
- Visa Reciprocity Fee (if applicable)
The U.S. Embassy website will provide you with information on applying for a visa at U.S. consulates around the world. You will want to be familiar with the rules and procedures of issuing visas before you apply for yours. Since visa procedures vary depending on what consulate you go to it is recommended that you check the site for the procedures at the U.S. consulate where you plan on applying for your visa.
Study as an F-2 spouse or child
A nonimmigrant spouse in F-2 status is allowed to engage in part-time study in any certified program at a SEVP-certified school on a part-time basis or full-time in a "vocational or recreational" program, such as hobbies. An F-2 child may only engage in full time study if the study is in an elementary or secondary school (kindergarten through twelfth grade). An F-2 dependent desiring to engage in full time study, other than study in an elementary or secondary school must apply for and obtain a change of nonimmigrant classification to F-1, J-1 or M-1 status. Enrolling in school full-time before the change of status is approved is a violation of nonimmigrant status.
F-2 dependents are not allowed to work in the U.S.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not legal advice. It is your responsibility to know and abide by the immigration regulations that apply to you.