Visa F1

A vast majority of international students coming to the USA come with an F1 student visa or F2 visa for dependents. Given that information, below you will find the necessary information for your visa and the health insurance requirements.


F1 Visa

An F1 visa is the type of visa most international students, it a non-immigrant visa. The department of state issues such visa after a student has been accepted to a private elementary, middle or high school, college, English language school or academic institution.


You undergo a process where your visa can either be denied or accepted. Once it is accepted, the student can come to the US up to 30 days before their classes start. This visa status has to be maintained throughout the students stay in college; after they graduate/finish the program the student has 60 days to leave the country. Students also have the option to extend their stay by changing their status, such as an OPT (Optional Practical Training)


Process to get the F1 Visa


Many people believe the visa application process can be complex and long. Here you will find a guide of how to navigate this process as pain free as possible.


There are several qualifications a person has to possess to be eligible for a F1 Visa.

  • People applying for an F1 visa must live in a country outside of the USA, and must demonstrate that they intend to return to their home country once they have completed their studies.
  • You may only attend the school that granted the visa application.
  • When applying for an F1 visa the applicant must show that he is financially able to pay for school and living expenses.
  • The applicant must show that they have strong ties to their home country, such as: family, bank accounts, job offer, etc.


Application Process for a F1 Visa


A very helpful tip, ALWAYS keep a copy of everything you either fill out or send out.


Each university will have their own set of admission requirements in order to be accepted to attend that given school. Each school will give you their requierments and decide whether they want you to attend or not. In addition to these requirements set forth by each school it is necessary for you to show that you are able to pay tuition and living expenses, without the need of a job. A school may also ask you to show proof of a health insurance, to make sure you will be able to afford any medical costs. When the university has determined that you are eligible to attend the school, they will issue you an I-20 form, so that you can begin your visa application.

Once you get the I-20 form, you need to apply for the student visa. This step is typically done at a US Embassy or Consulate, typically in your home country. Although a student can apply at an Embassy or Consulate abroad (not in their home country) it will be a little more difficult to qualify for the visa.


What are the items you need to provide for the F1 visa application?


  1. Be prepared to pay a non-refundable application fee. Even if your visa is not accepted, you will not get your money back.
  2. You will be required to submit an online application form, called DS-160 for the non-immigrant visa.
  3. If you are a male between the ages of 16 and 45, you will be required to submit a DS- 157 form.
  4. You must have a valid passport for travel to the United States. Make sure that your passport will not expire until 6 months after you intend to leave the US.
  5. You need photos of yourself. Can be a digital copy or hard copy. To upload the photos digitally make sureIt depends greatly on the Embassy or Consulate in your home country, they may require more items; but in general these are the ones something you need to bring: they are in color, passport size, taken within the last 6 months, have a plain white background.


Keep in mind that additional documentation may be asked for at the time of the interview, such as your TOEFL/SAT/ACT scores among other documents. When you have gathered all the documentation mentioned above, it is time for you to schedule you interview at the US Embassy/Consulate.


Attending Your Interview


In this interview what will be determined is whether you are a qualified person for the F1 student visa. Assuming you got all the proper documentation and meet all the requirements for the F1 visa, the decision will be entirely up to the consular officer.


When approved you may be required to pay a fee for the issuance of your visa. Next, they will scan your digital fingerprints for the records. Remember they will take your passport away for a couple of days/weeks, depending on the embassy/consulate, to be able to put the visa in it; they will let you know when to go pick it up or they will mail it to you.


Here are some sample of questions that may be asked during the interview. Remember these are just sample question, not necessarily the ones that will be asked to you.

  • Why do you want to study in the US, instead of in your home country?
  • What are you test scores (SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, IELTS), gpa, academic standing with the school?
  • Upon completing your graduation, do you plan to return to your home country or stay in the USA?
  • Why did you choose this school and how does it meet all your expectations?
  • How will you be able to fund your education, living, transportation, etc, while in the USA?


*disclaimer Never make travel plans until you have been notified whether you visa was accepted or denied.


Visa Denials


If your F1 student visa application is denied, you will be given a reason and section of the law for which you were not approved the visa. You will get this with all the other paperwork. Sometimes an applicant can get denied because they did not provide enough documentation, and there can be other reasons why you would be found to be ineligible.


Meeting the qualifications stated above for the visa is crucial; if you do not meet them, then you should expect to get your visa denied. F1 Visas can be denied based on fraud, misinterpretation, unlawful presence in the US, if you have a health-related issue they find inconvenient, criminal or security backgrounds. Check out the Department of State website for more information on F1 visa denials.


How to maintain a valid F1 status in the USA?


When you get your approval for the F1 student visa, you are able to enter the US under an international student status. However, there are some obligations you will need to comply with in order to maintain that status. If you are not in compliance with these obligations, you will be asked to leave the country and will not be eligible for re-entry or OPT status.


Here are some tips to keep on the good side:

When arriving, make sure you do not arrive to the US no more than 30 days before classes begin.

During your stay in the US: remember you must be enrolled at the university as a fulltime student. You need to go to class, pass your classes and maintain a good standing with the university. If you do not believe you will complete your program with in the allotted time in your I-20, talk to you school counselors, they can help you request an extension. Also, make sure your passport is always valid for 6 months in the future. If this is not the case, talk to your country’s embassy or consulate and request and extension.

Remember to always carry a copy of your passport and your I-94 card for identification.


One last tip: ALWAYS notify your international advisor of any change in address, study plans or visa status.


The Working Question


If you hold an F1 student visa status remember it is designed to be for an international student not a worker. Given that you are not allowed to work off-campus. You are allowed to work a part time (20 hours per week) job on campus when classes are in session and full time when you are in a break. Talk to your school counselor or go to your school recruiter to see what positions you could qualify for.

If you work without proper authorization your visa WILL be revoked and you will be forced to leave the country.

You can apply for an Optical Practice Training (OPT), which is a sort of permission granted to F1 visa holders to work off campus for up to 12 months. Students need to make sure that their job is related to their field of study. You can apply for OPT during your studies for a pert time, or during recess to work fulltime, also after graduating in a field related to their study.


Transferring Schools with an F1 Visa


International students are required to stay enrolled in the school that provided them with the I-20 form, and the application was filled and granted. However, in some cases a student may be able to transfer schools. The student has to show proof of continuing their studies at a different US institution.


After Graduation


Once you complete your program and you graduate, you have 60 days to leave the US under you F1 visa. There are ways to extend your way either by applying and enrolling to a higher program, getting another degree at another school with another I-20 or applying to change your visa status. The international advisors in your schools can give you more information about these options.


Health Insurance with an F1 Visa


There are no specific health insurance requirements for F1 visa holder set forth by the government or the Department of State. Normally, your school will give you a list to determine the benefits and level of coverage you need. On the other hand, if your school does not have specific requirements, you will have to determine the level of coverage yourself.


School Requirements


Since there are no specific requirements set forth by the government then the school will administer the requirements, based on what they see fit.

  • You can be asked to have a Mandatory group school plan with no option to waive. Which means that you will have to get the school sponsored plan and cannot get a private insurance.
  • You can also have the option to either get the school sponsored insurance plan or to waive out of it, and purchase your own plan.
  • Your school may also not offer any plan for their students in which case you will choose your own coverage based on your necessities.


Let’s go into detail about each scenario presented above.


When your school tells you that their sponsored insurance plan is mandatory for all international students, you have no option but to purchase the plan they offer. In this case, the cost of the insurance is normally added to your tuition bill. When the schools makes their health insurance a mandatory school plan, it is pricier than purchasing your own insurance; but it is a way for the school to make sure you are actually getting the benefits and level of coverage they find necessary.

Some things to keep in mind if your school only gives you the option to purchase their health insurance plan are:

  1. Make sure to check the plan offers coverage while you are on breaks from school and during OPT. If these situations are not covered, then a travel medical insurance would be a great option to add here.
  2. Check for coverage for medical evacuation and repatriation, and any other benefits you may need. Make sure to get a stand-alone medical evacuation and repatriation plan for coverage.


If your school does offer you the option to waive the school insurance plan, make sure to check your schools’ requirements to waive their plan and purchase your own. You have to make sure to meet these requirements to be able to opt out of the plan. The requirements will normally be found in the form you need to turn to your school called a ‘waiver form.’ It is normally a 1 to 2-page form, requiring you and the insurance company to sign saying your plan complies with the requirements. When it is signed by both, then you can turn it in to your school, and the school plan will be removed from your bill.

If you are looking for an alternative plan to your school’s plan, then be sure to check out G4ST (HYPERLINK), to see the options available for your school, visa type and age.


Your school may simply not offer any school insurance plan for their students, in which case you have to purchase your own. Some schools may give you requirements, on the hands so may not give you any requirements. If this is the case, then you can get a plan that fits your needs and your own budget! Remember to check the benefits and exclusions, to see what will or will not be covered. The company should be a reputable company in the US.

If you are looking for an alternative plan to your school’s plan, then be sure to check out G4ST (HYPERLINK), to see the options available for your school, visa type and age.


Usual School Requirements


Even though each school may have their own requirements, the list provided below is a general outline of what a schools normally require (basic benefits) in coverage to waive out of their plan.

  • Policy Maximum: This is the amount that the insurance coverage will cover in medical bills. Knowing this, many universities require students to have a policy max of at least $50,000. Some may also ask for an unlimited policy max, which means that there is no limit to what they will pay. Remember that each school has a specific requirement.
  • Low deductible: Schools normally require a low deductible around $500, to keep the amount of money a student is supposed to pay out of pocket at a low.
  • Cover Mental Health: Universities want to make sure the students are both physically and mentally healthy, that is why they require in and out patient coverage for mental health.
  • Medical Evacuation and Repatriation: as an international student, universities require these to be able to transport you to the nearest facility if needed or return your body home in case you pass away.
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions: Schools may require you to be covered for conditions that existed before moving to the US, either with a short waiting period or without one.
  • Maternity: to keep caution, schools require the insurance cover 80% of the maternity. This number can vary or can be in dollar amounts. Some schools require an unlimited amount, please double check the requirement.


Remember to contact your school to know the necessary requirements to waive their plan if possible. Also remember before you purchase any plan, cross check the benefits with the list of requirements that have been provided by your school.


G4ST offer a variety of plans for international students, select your visa type, your age and your schools; there you will be able to see the plans that comply with your school’s requirements and your visa.  Remember to double check with your school and their requirements to see you comply with everything before purchasing any product!


Please contact the Global4Students customer support team at (305) 377-8999 or at [email protected], to verify information regarding your visa type and university.