What is an F-1 visa and why do I need one?
An F-1 visa is a type of student visa issued to nonimmigrants who intend to study in the United States at an accredited U.S. university or college. Generally, an F-1 visa is valid for the duration of your undergraduate degree, which can range from two to five years. Once you complete your degree, you can stay in the United States for up to 60 days.
You must be admitted into a U.S. college or university recognized by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) before you can submit an application for an F-1 visa as an international student from Pakistan. You can determine whether your college or university qualifies for the F-1 visa by using School Search.
If you’re still undecided about which university and degree program is right for you, don’t worry. Speak with a Shorelight advisor about possible majors and colleges that fit your long-term objectives. You can also learn more about studying in the United States through EducationUSA’s counseling centers in Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore.
Once you have received an acceptance to a U.S. college or university and confirmed your enrollment, you can begin the F-1 visa application process.
How to Apply for a US Student Visa from Pakistan?
Here is a step-by-step procedure to apply for an American visa from Pakistan. For a more detailed explanation of the F-1 visa application process and required documents, check out our in-depth guide to US visas for international students.
1. Enroll in your US university or college and receive the I-20 form:
Once you secure a spot at your university or college, they will send you an I-20 form which you will need during the F-1 visa process. This includes information such as your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) ID, the start and end dates of your academic program, and your funding source. It is important to double-check all the information in the Form I-20 before signing the document.
Before moving to the next step of the F-1 visa process, you need to make the payment of SEVIS fee ($350, which is approximately Rs 54,000). Make sure you print a copy of your receipt – you’ll need it for your visa interview!
2. Complete the required DS-160 application:
For the DS-160 application, you must submit information online via the application portal. (You can learn more about the DS-160 on the U.S. State Department website.)
After completing the DS-160 form, pay the visa fees ($160, or about Rs 24,700) to receive a confirmation page with a barcode. You will need to print this page for the interview.
3. Schedule an interview:
After completing and submitting the I-20 and DS-160 forms, locate the American embassy or consulate that is closest to you, schedule an interview, and proceed.
The US consulates and embassies in Pakistan are listed below:
- American Embassy in Islamabad
- US Consulate General in Karachi
You can visit the US State Department website to find out how long it will take you to get an interview. You can prepare ahead of time by monitoring the available appointment dates and wait times for US visas.
4. Prepare for your visa interview:
For the final step of the F-1 visa application process, make a list of all the documents you should bring to the interview. This includes:
- Your passport
- Forms I-20 and DS-160, including I-20 Payment Receipt and DS-160 Confirmation Page
- A copy of your visa photo
- Any supporting documents demonstrating intent to return to Pakistan after graduation
- Before your interview, remember to practice answering mock interview questions with a friend or your Shorelight enrollment advisor.
Next, let’s look at some frequently asked questions from students in Pakistan about the F-1 visa.
What happens if my visa is rejected?
Unfortunately, there is no appeal process if your F-1 visa is denied. However, this does not mean that you will not be able to apply again!
It is crucial to ascertain the reason behind the US Embassy’s denial of your visa. It is simpler to reapply for the student visa with any additional documents needed once you are aware of the reason.
What happens if my visa interview is delayed?
You can ask for an expedited appointment if your program of study starts in less than 60 days and there aren’t any interview slots available before then. You will need to bring your I-20 form and SEVIS fee receipt with you.
Can I travel with my student visa?
Once they arrive at a U.S. college or university, Pakistani students with an F-1 visa can travel within the United States and abroad. To do so, a travel signature is required on page two of the I-20 form, provided by the Designated Education Officer (DSO), who often works in the university’s International Student Services department.
Additionally, visas and passports must be valid and I-20 forms must be updated. For more information on documentation required for re-entry and travel restrictions, please refer to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.
Can I work while studying on the F-1 visa?
Work is permitted on an F-1 visa only under certain conditions.
For students on F-1 visas, work is generally limited to on-campus jobs. A student’s weekly work limit is 20 hours. If your program allows it, you can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) to look for work outside of university.
Can I transfer to another university or college on an F-1 visa?
Yes you can. But you will need to speak to your DSO before applying. To maintain your F-1 visa status, your selected university or college will need to issue a new Form I-20.
Do I need travel insurance or health insurance?
Not all universities require travel insurance when traveling to the United States, but it is often recommended, as an insurance plan could potentially save you a lot of time and money, especially in the event of unexpected travel delays or medical emergencies.
Most universities in the United States require students to obtain medical insurance to complete enrollment. Students can enroll in a university-sponsored health insurance plan, which is commonly included in tuition fees. For more information on health and travel insurance plans, contact a Shorelight advisor.
For Pakistani students hoping to study in the United States, the F-1 visa process may seem long and challenging, but with the right amount of research and preparation, you can increase your chances of success.