Students Can Now Apply for USA Student Visa a Year Before Their Course Begins


Aarushi Jain
Updated on Feb 24, 2023 11:43 AM IST

The US Department of State recently announced that F and M class USA student visas can be issued up to 365 days before the programme start date mentioned in the I-20 form. This will allow students extra time to complete the whole visa process. However, students are still not permitted to enter the United States on a student visa more than 30 days before the day of the commencement of their programme.

Students Can Now Apply for USA Student Visa a Year Before Their Course Begins

Prospective F-1 visa applicants will now be able to apply for their visa up to 365 days before the start of the academic session, which is a much-needed relief for students hoping to study in the United States and considering the current wait time situation for visa appointments.

However, the US student visa applicants will be permitted to travel to the United States only 30 days before the start date of their programme.

This announcement was recently made by the US Department of State stating that F- and M-type US student visas can now be granted up to a year in advance from the programme start date mentioned on the I-20. This move has been made to give enough time to visa applicants for the complete visa process and its preparation.

Also Read: Issued 36% More Visas Than Pre-Covid Levels: US Calling India ‘No.1 Priority'

The announcement comes as a big development for overseas students since it implies that US universities and colleges can accept and issue I-20 forms 12-14 months before the start of the semester.

Before, visa interviews could only be booked up to 120 days in advance and I-20 paperwork could only be submitted 4-6 months before the start of the semester. With this new development, the admissions process and visa-related paperwork could be done in advance and students can breathe a sigh of relief as they complete all documentation without feeling any time constraints or missing any deadline.

Reopening after Covid, the United States has been fighting to reduce visa processing wait times, with some applicants having to wait more than two years for visa appointments.

During the last several months, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a number of initiatives to reduce processing times, including unique interview slots, interview exemptions for select applicants, and a plan to allow domestic stamping of H-1B renewals.

Types of USA Student Visa

The kind of university/institute you want to attend and the degree of study you intend to pursue decide whether you require an F visa or an M visa. Here is a list of the major USA student visa types: 

Level of Study 

Type of USA Student Visa 

University or College Level 


High School


Private Elementary School






Another Educational Institution with a Language Training Programme


Vocational or Other Non-Academic Institutions


Also Read: US Mission Introduces New Initiative to Reduce Wait Times on Indian Visa Applications

F-1 Visa Application Process for International Students

Let us briefly discuss the F-1 visa application process for international students to study in the US:

  • Get Admission into a US School/University: Before applying for an F-1 student visa, you must apply to an accredited USA education institution authorised by the SEVP and receive an admission letter. 

  • Pay the SEVIS Fee and Ask for Form I-20: After being authorised, you will be able to pay the USD 350 SEVIS I-901 fee to be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The school will then provide you with Form I-20. This form will be delivered to the consular officer during your F-1 visa interview. (If your spouse or children want to live with you in the United States while you are studying, they will be required to have individual Form I-20s and will not be required to enrol in SEVIS).

  • Fill Out the Visa Application Form: A non-refundable visa application cost of USD 160 is required. You can complete and print form DS-160 for your F-1 visa interview if you apply online.

  • Attend the Visa Interview: A visa interview with the US embassy or consulate can be scheduled. The length of the wait varies depending on the location, season, and kind of visa.

  • Get Your F-1 Visa Approval: Your interview will determine if you are eligible for an F-1 student visa. If you have completed all of the necessary papers and meet all of the F-1 visa requirements, your visa request will be accepted at the discretion of the consular officer. For records, digital fingerprint scans will be collected. The F-1 visa is valid for 60 months for Indian students. 

Need Help with US Student Visa?

Source: The Economic Times

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