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F Visas-Students

F1 Visa - Student (academic or language program)

Once you have been accepted to a program of study in the United States you can apply for a student visa.

Before coming to the U.S. Consulate General on your appointment date, all applicants for F, J or M visas should have CONFIRMATION from the sponsoring institutions (school, program exchange site) that your name, as well as those of your relatives if applicable, have been added electronically to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).  Neither student nor exchange visas can be issued until your data appears in the mentioned SEVIS system; applicants should contact their respective sponsoring institutions.

F-1, F-3, M-1 and the majority of J-1 applicants, to whom I-20 or DS-2019 forms have been issued after September 1, 2004, must make an additional payment for SEVIS fees (to see fees).  This payment must be paid directly to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The payment should be made prior to the issuance of the visa.  The fastest method to make this payment is by credit card through the web site designed by DHS for this purpose.

There are different types of visas depending on the duration of the program, your level, and the source of program finances, etc.  In general, the following documents are required to apply for a student visa:

  • I-20 form (this form is compulsory and it is only sent to the student by the educational institutions accredited in the United States and it is the only evidence of having been accepted to a program.)  NOTE: having the required I-20 form does not guarantee visa issuance.
  • Evidence of means to pay for the costs of the program – depending on the case, this proof will consist of documentation from the institution indicating that the program has been paid for, bank accounts, letters from sponsors or the applicant’s parents, etc.
  • Proof of payment of the SEVIS fee as explained above.

You must also:

  • Bring the receipt from bank Banamex or Scotiabank indicating that you have paid the processing fee.
  • Bring your Mexican passport with at least six months of validity.
  • Fill out and print the Visa application form (DS-160) via internet.

You may also be required to bring proof of your English language proficiency, grades from previous educational institutions, bank statements, recommendation letters, or any other documents.

The program or school you wish to attend should offer detailed information; you may wish to contact the Center for Educational Counseling for additional information.

During vacation periods, appointments for student visas are usually scheduled up to two weeks after you make the request, and approved student visas are delivered to the applicant between a week and 10 days after the appointment date.  Please make all the necessary arrangements for your visa well before your scheduled travel date.

Visa F3 Border Commuter Student

This visa category was created for citizens and residents of Canada and Mexico that live in the border area. This visa is for Canadian or Mexican citizens who maintain their residence outside the United States and commute to the United States temporarily in order to engage in full- or part-time academic studies. Visa holders of this type of visa can not reside in the United States and their spouse or children are not eligible to dependent visas.

The rest of the requirements and regulations are the same as for the F1.

Restrictions on Attending Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

Congress passed a law in 1996 that placed restrictions on foreign students in public elementary (kindergarten through eighth grades) and secondary (grades nine through twelve) schools.  Secondary school is also called high school.The restrictions are given below:

  • prohibits foreign students from attending public elementary schools or publicly-funded adult education programs
  • limits secondary school attendance to twelve months
  • requires secondary school students to pay the school the full, unsubsidized per capita cost (cost for each student) of education

Special Note:In some cases, additional administrative processing is required, prior to the issuance of a visa. This process can occasionally last up to several months.  As such, please apply as soon as possible after you have gathered all necessary documentation.

If you are in the U.S. and your visa has expired, you can stay in the U.S. as long as you have a valid I-20 AND you continue to maintain student status.  You will only need to obtain a new visa after your departure from the U.S. should you need to return to school. If you elect to renew your visa in Mexico please plan your visit accordingly, ensuring that you have sufficient personal belongings and finances to cover an extended stay.  In some cases, you may require a visa and/or an extension of your authorized stay from Mexican authorities.

If the visa is approved, the consular officer will determine a maximum validity for the visa.

Depending on their nationality, visa type and visa length, some applicants are required to pay a reciprocity fee per application, per year or partial year of validity.

Please refer to visa application process for additional visa application information and requirements.

The U.S. Department of State has a website with more information about the F visas.

Do not make travel plans until you receive your visa.