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How to Apply for the F-1 Visa or Status

What is the F-1 Visa?
The F-1 Visa is a student visa. It is issued by the American Embassy/Consulate to individuals who wish to come to the U.S. to study in American universities, language schools, high schools and other institutions of higher learning.

Where should I apply for the student visa?
You should apply for the student visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. If you are in the U.S. on a different immigration status (e.g. tourist, business), you can change it to student status (F-1). However, we strongly recommend that you contact the International Students Office for information about the proper steps to take.

What documents do I need in order to apply for the student visa?
You must receive an official letter of acceptance fromHunter College and SEVIS I-20 form. Additionally, you will need to prepare financial documents to present at the embassy/consulate and pay a required SEVIS fee. For more information about the SEVIS I-20 click FORMS.

How long will it take the U.S. consulate to process my visa request?
In general, the length of time the U.S. consulate takes to process a request depends on the country and on the availability of visa interviews. We encourage you to begin your part of the process as soon as you get your I-20 form from Hunter College. To schedule an interview log onto

I plan to travel to the U.S. with my spouse and/ or children.
What status will they be given and how should they obtain it?

Your spouse and/or children will be given an F-2 Visa. In order to get the F-2, your family (dependents) must come with you to the U.S. consulate when you apply for your F-1 Visa. They will be required to fill out a visa application and be able to prove their relationship to you with proper documentation. Your responsibility will be to show that you have sufficient funds to support them while they live with you in the U.S. ($6,000 for spouse; $3,000 for every child).

How do I get a social security number and work permits once I have a student visa?
In order to get a social security number F-1 students must first have permission to work legally in the U.S., receive a letter from an employer willing to hire them and a letter from the major department. U.S. Immigration regulations allow F-1 students to work on-campus (in any of the colleges that are part of the City University of New York (CUNY) as soon as they arrive in the US. They must meet certain requirements in order to obtain on-campus work-authorization from the International Student Office. Please note that while on-campus jobs are available for both undergraduate and graduate students right from the moment of arrival, off-campus jobs are also available for graduate students in the form of Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Undergraduate students, however, may only hold such jobs nine months after their arrival and after declaring a major. 

Where can I obtain additional information about the process of applying for a student visa?
For additional information about visas, log onto or contact the State Department’s Visa Office. Always feel free to contact the International Students Office at Hunter College. Another option is to consult an education-abroad adviser at U.S. consulate in your country.


Requirements For Maintaining F-1 Status:

  1. Student must attend the school that has been authorized on his or her I-20.
  2. Student must pursue a full course of study (12 credits for undergraduate and graduate students).
  3. Student must not accept off-campus employment of any kind without prior written permission from either their Designated School Officer or the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Students who are employed within CUNY need a verification of their continuing F-1 status.

Transferring to other Schools

  • You MUST attend the school listed on your I-20 at the time of initial entry into the United States for at least one semester. For example, you can not enter the United States with an I-20 that states Hunter College and having been accepted to Baruch College; begin attending classes at Baruch College without ever attending Hunter College. Should you choose to attend Baruch College, you MUST attend Hunter College for at least a semester or you will be in violation of your F-1 status. Remedying the situation will cost you both time wise and financially.
  • At the time of transfer, you MUST make the international Students Office at your current school aware of your intentions to transfer. They will HAVE TO TRANSFER your I-20 to your new school. DO NOT assume that our systems are interconnected and thus we shall automatically know what is happening with your record.
  • DO NOT destroy previous I-20s. Make photocopies of ALL I-20s and keep them on file at whatever school you are currently attending.
  • Keep track of your I-94 card (the little white card stapled to your passport at the airport). Should you lose it, you must apply for a replacement.
  • Always, Always, Always check with the International Students Office when making decisions regarding school transfers, semester course loads, internship and employment opportunities as well as travel within or across US borders.

    When in doubt, contact your International Students Office.


You should always come to the International Students’ Office before you leave The United States. This way we can make sure that International Student Advisor endorses your I-20 for the current semester and that your travel documents are in order.

Visa Renewal

If you are planning to travel and your visa is expired you need to come to the International Students’ Office. We will assist you with preparing the necessary documents for the renewal of your visa.

Change of Status

According to new Immigration and Naturalization rules, individuals are not allowed to attend educational institution unless their status permits them to do so. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services considers change of status on a case-by-case basis. You should visit our office to determine whether the change of status is necessary and whether you are eligible for it.

Program Extension

If you need more time to complete your studies than is indicated on I-20 or DS2019 form, you have to request program extension. We require that you bring a letter from an advisor at your department stating how much more time you need. All other necessary forms are available at our office.

Social Security Card

All students who are eligible for work (see below) can obtain the Social Security Card. For that purpose you need to request a letter and an application from our office.




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Rooms 1108/1109 East Building, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065

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