The F1 visa allows international students to study at certain approved US institutions. This includes top business schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton.
For MBA and master’s students who graduate from STEM-accredited programs, an F1 visa allows you to participate in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which enables you to work in the US for a total of 24 months. After this you can apply for an H-1B visa to remain in the US.
A state department official recently revealed that over 393,000 F1 have been issued this fiscal year up to the beginning of August, bringing it close to the total of the 411,131 F1 visas that were handed out in the whole of 2022.
This falls in line with a post-pandemic trend which has seen visa issuances rise by almost 15% in 2022 compared with the 2021 figure of 364,204.
Who can apply for an F1 visa?
In 2022, almost 70% (274,880) of visas issued by the state department went to students from Asia. Out of these, 115,115 went to Indian students, a figure that increased from 80,451 in 2021.
The second highest proportion went to Chinese students, who were handed a total of 61,894 visas. This marked a significant drop from the amount given in 2021, due to ongoing travel restrictions.
A significant number of visas were also handed out to applicants from South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Taiwan.
In Europe, the largest proportion of visas (7,248) went to Germany, while other major markets included France, Spain and Italy.
Approximately 7% of visas were given to African applicants, with the majority of students coming from Nigeria, Ghana, and Ethiopia. Roughly 6,000 more visas were handed to African students in 2022 than 2021.
Though South America remained one of the smallest regional pools overall, Brazil proved to be a large source market with 9,806 visas handed out in 2022, while Columbia received over 7,000.
This global increase in successful visa applications can be partially attributed to a reduction in US consulate staffing shortages that was seen just after the pandemic.
While applying for an F1 visa allows international students to study in the US for the duration of one year, there are certain criterion that must be met to obtain one.
In order to be eligible, you have to be a full-time student accepted into an institution approved by the Student and Exchange Visas Program (SEVP).
Once registered on the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), you must pay the SEVIS I-901 registration fee of $350. The school will then send you a document called a Form I-20, which you will have to complete alongside an online application form.
After this, there is an interview process, requiring you to bring these applications alongside other documentation. This includes your passport and a Form DS-160 ‘Non-immigrant Visa Application’.