Starting The F1 Visa Process

If you are interested in studying in the US, you will probably need an F1 student visa. English Language School in Miami is accepted by the USCIS to sponsor foreign students. Upon receipts and acceptance of your application, we will input information about you to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). We will then send you an I-20 form, which you will need in order to obtain your visa.

Getting Your F1 Student Visa

To obtain your visa, you will have to schedule an appointment with the nearest US consulate. You will have to show the I-20, your passport, pay the necessary visa fee, submit form OF-156 Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa, and show evidence of financial support. Please note that you must be able to prove to the Consular Officer that you have strong ties to your home country. In general, it is a good idea to be very organized for this meeting (you are, after all, going to study try to look like a good student!). If you are turned down, ask the consular officer how you can apply again. If approved, the consular section will enter into SEVIS that your visa has been issued.

Entering The US

You must enter the USA by or before the report date on the I-20. You may not enter the United States more than 30 days before the beginning of your study program. At the port of entry, you may have to show your passport, visa, evidence of support and the I-20. The officer at the port of entry will enter into SEVIS that you have arrived.

The visa is normally valid for the entire length of study, plus 30 days after the program ends. The length of time you are permitted to stay will be determined by the official at the Port of Entry. The length you are permitted to stay will be recorded on your I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which should be kept in your passport.

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Working On An F1 Visa and Maintenance Of Status.

Working On An F1 Visa

    If employment is available, F1 visa holders may be able to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week if they are in good academic standing, maintain full-time study, and do not displace a US resident. Students may work full-time between semesters and during the annual summer vacation if they enroll for the following term. After completing their studies, however, they may not be employed on-campus unless authorized for practical training.

    Off-campus work requires approval from USCIS and is possible only after the first full year of study. Unless this permit has been granted by USCIS, it is illegal for a student with an F1 visa to accept off-campus employment. If employment permission is granted, the student still must maintain full-time study while working up to 20 hours a week while courses are in session and 40 hours a week during the summer and between semesters.

    Sometimes, however, things don't go as planned. If you can prove that you are suffering a severe economic hardship caused by circumstances beyond your control, you may be able to get special USCIS working permission. Examples include loss of financial aid or on campus employment without fault on the part of the student, a severe devaluation in the currency of your home country, or medical bills.

    You must further show that there is no suitable on-campus employment for you. You must have completed a full year of academic study and must be in good academic standing. You will also have to obtain a recommendation from your student officer. If granted work permission, you will be allowed to work 20 hours per week while school is in session.

Maintenance Of Status

Once you have been admitted to the United States in F-1 status, you will have to meet the following obligations in order to maintain your status.
  • Have a passport that is kept valid at all times, unless exempt from the passport requirement.
  • Attend the school that you are authorized to attend. Continue to carry a full course of study [minimum of 18 hours of instruction per week, 1 hour = 60 minutes]
  • Follow certain procedures if the student must remain in the United States longer than the length of time estimated for his/her educational program, as stated on the initial I-20 A/B issued to begin the program of study.
  • Follow certain procedures to transfer to a school other than the one originally authorized.
  • Limit employment, both on and off campus, to a total of 20 hours per week while school is in session.
  • Refrain from off-campus employment without authorization.
  • Report a change of residence to INS within 10 days of the change.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I have a valid visa, but it is not F-1? What should I do?

If you are currently in the U.S. and want to change your status for F-1 and attend a full-time course:
  1. Apply to the school as normal
  2. If you are accepted, we will assist you in changing your status to F-1
If you are currently in the U.S. and want to attend a part-time course:
  1. Apply to the school as normal
  2. Attend your classes
If you are outside of the U.S.;
  1. Apply to to the school as normal
  2. Make an appointment with the U.S. Consulate to apply for an F-1 visa

What if I'm already attending another ESL program in the U.S. and want to transfer to Miami?

The transfer process is quite simple:
  • Apply to the school as normal.
  • Have our Transfer form completed and signed by your current Student Advisor. We will send you this form upon registration.
  • Provide a copy of your passport, Visa, I-20 Form and I-94.
  • Provide a Bank Statement showing sufficient funds for the proposed period of study.
  • 2 small ID pictures.

What is SEVIS?

SEVIS stands for "Student Exchange Visitor Information System." It is a web-based database that tracks all non-immigrants who are in the U.S. with F or J status. SEVIS is monitored by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

For more information on F-1 rules and regulations, please refer to the BCIS website at

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