Boston School of Modern Languages
English Instruction Since 1925

Frequently Asked Questions
About the Student Visa

What do the terms F-l and I-20 mean?
The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant, full-time, student visa that allows foreigners to pursue education in the United States. F-l is the official name of the student visa.
A Form I-20 is a government form that tells the U.S. government that you are eligible for F-1 Student Status. It certifies that (1) you are or expect to be a "bona fide" student; (2) you meet our admissions requirements; (3) you will pursue a full course of study; (4) you proved to us that you have enough money to study and live in the U.S. without working illegally or suffering from poverty. 

Who is eligible for a Student Visa?
Any person who wishes to study in the U.S. is eligible for a student visa. You will have to provide the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country with the required proof of your qualifications. The most important requirement is that you have obtained the form I-20 from the school that you plan to attend.

How long does it take to get approval?
We usually advise starting the process at least two months before the date on which you plan to start at BSML.  In some cases, student visas are issued quickly but it is best to apply well in advance of the date you plan to begin studies. There are times of the year when embassies are particularly busy and there can be delays in processing all visa applications.  

How long is the F-1 visa valid?
It is valid for as long as you are enrolled and attending a program.  After you finish studies at BSML, you have 60 day to leave the country or transfer to another school. You don’t have to begin classes within 60 days, but must be transferred electronically from the old school to the new school within that time period. 

Can I go back to my country for a visit and return to BSML on the same visa?
Yes, you can. You must return within five months. Before leaving the US, bring your I-20 form to the Primary Designated School Officer (PDSO). She has to sign on page 3 for your re-entry into the country. 

I only enrolled for four weeks. Can I stay longer? How can I get my student visa extended?
It is very easy. You don’t have to fill out any papers or go to any government office. The PDSO can change the ending date of your program and print out a new I-20 form.

I have B-l, J-l, etc. visa, but I want to change to an F-l visa. Can I do this?
You can apply for Change of Status as long and your current status (B-l, J-l, etc.) has not expired.  We can supply give you with the application form and tell you what you need to do.  You cannot begin to study until approval has been received. Make an appointment to meet with the PDSO to discuss it. Keep in mind that Change of Status applications are closely scrutinized and the approval process can be difficult. 


Important Suggestions

Be Prepared.
How you dress for your  visa interview is important. You should consider the interview a formal event, Business attire is appropriate.
Visa officers are rushed. They often only have a few moments to interview you. Be prepared to provide your information quickly and completely.

Immigrant Intent
The visa officer is required to assume that you plan to stay permanently in the United States. You must prove that you do not have this intent and that you plan on returning to your country. Collect and bring documents to your interview that show good reason for you to return to your home country. Items such as:

  • Proof of employment or the letter stating that you will be considered for employment when you return to your country

  • Photos of family members residing in your country

  • Photos of property that you or your family own

  • Letters of reference

Have an Objective
Have an academic or professional objective for studying English in the U.S. It’s not enough to say that the schools are better in the U.S. Be ready to tell the officer what kind of career you are pursuing and how studying in the U.S. will better prepare you to be successful.

Other helpful documents:

  • What You Need to Know When Applying For a Student Visa

  • Photos of family members residing in your country






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