F Visa

F (Academic Studies) and M (Nonacademic or Vocational Studies) Student Visas

The Immigrant and Nationality Act (INA) provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. The “F” visa is for academic studies, and the “M” visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies.



Persons applying for F or M visa with an I-20 form issued on or after September 1, 2004 must pay a SEVIS fee. This covers the cost of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This fee must be paid before the person applies for a visa. Derivative applicants (F2 and M2) do not have to pay a SEVIS fee. Please make sure to pay your Sevis fee and bring a printed proof of payment to your interview at the Consular section!

Family members

 A spouse or child of a student may also be classified for a nonimmigrant visa to accompany or follow the principal applicant. Family members must meet all visa eligibility requirements, including evidence that they will have sufficient funds for their support, and that they will depart the United States upon termination of the student program. To qualify for a dependent visa, applicants must bring civil documents to prove relationship to the principal applicant, i.e. spouses: original marriage certificate, children: original birth certificate.

Initial Entry into the US

Please be aware that United States Department of Homeland Security regulations state that holders of F/M nonimmigrant visas will only be admitted to the United States thirty days or less before their program start date, as given on form I-20.

Length of stay

 When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departure:

F-1 student — An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.

M-1 student — An additional 30 days to depart the U.S. (Fixed time period, in total not to exceed one year). The 30 days to prepare for departure is permitted as long as the student maintained a full course of study and maintained status. An M student may receive extensions up to three years for the total program.

You may call the Rose H. Robbins Law Office at (954) 946-8130 to inquire about our legal services in this area. We look forward to hearing from you!