The Immigration and Nationality Act(INA) provides two non-immigrant visa categories
for students who seek to study in Jacksonville, Florida or anywhere else in the United
States. The F visa is reserved for individuals wishing to pursue academic studies
and/or language training programs, while the M visa is reserved for individuals wishing
to pursue non-academic, or vocational studies.
General Eligibility Requirements- foreign students who wish to study in the U.S.
may enter in the F1 or M1 category provided they meet the following criteria:
•The student must be enrolled in an academic, educational, language, or vocational
•The school attended by non-immigrant must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
•The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;
•The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English
•The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the proposed
course of study; and
•The student must maintain a residence abroad which he/she has no intention of giving
Who Qualifies for an F Student Visa? INA Section 101(a)(15)(F) defines an F category
non-immigrant as an alien (who has residence in a foreign country which he or she
has no intention of abandoning) who seeks to temporarily enter the United States
for the sole purpose of pursuing a full course of study at an established college,
university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, or language training school
approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Spouses or children of a qualifying non-immigrant student may also apply for an F
visa if accompanying or following to join the primary nonimmigrant student.
How Do I Obtain an F Student Visa?In order to apply for a F visa at a U.S. embassy
or consulate, a prospective non-immigrant student must first have a SEVIS (Student
and Exchange Visitor Information System) generated document (Form I-20) issued by
a U.S. college or university or Department of State-designated sponsor organization.
You will be required to submit this form when you apply for a visa. The U.S. academic
institution or program sponsor will provide you with the appropriate SEVIS generated
form only when you have been academically admitted to the institution or accepted
as a participant in an exchange program. The institution or program sponsor will
also send you additional information about applying for the appropriate visa, as
well as other guidance about beginning your academic program in the United States.
It should be noted that issuance of the Form I-20 does not itself confer F1 Student
Visa status. Once you have all the required documentation, you must apply for a
visa (unless the prospective student is already lawfully present in the United States
on another type of non-immigrant visa, in which case he or she may seek a change
of status to an F category non-immigrant). The application procedures for obtaining
a visa are listed on most U.S. embassy web sites. For country-specific information,
visit the State Department's Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions web-page.