Entering, leaving the US while holding a student's visa

Ask the US Embassy

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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Q. How early should I arrive in the United States before I begin my studies? Also, am I allowed to travel on my B1/B2 visa if I will be studying on an F-1 visa?

When you come to the United States on your F-1 student visa for the first time, you may not arrive earlier than 30 days before you begin your studies. If you want to arrive in the United States earlier than that for vacation, you will have to apply and qualify for a separate visitor's visa (B1/B2) in addition to your student visa. Please note that you may not begin attending school while travelling on your B1/B2 visa.

If you do enter the United States on a B1/B2 visitor visa with plans to begin or continue studies, you will need a valid F-1 visa and you must either leave the United States and re-enter on your F-1 visa or you will have to contact the United States Citizenship and ImmigrationServices at http://www.uscis.govto apply for a change of status from within the United States. However, you may not begin your studies until the change of status is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and you should be aware of the possibility of lengthy processing times associated with requests for change of status.

Q. I have completed my programme of study. Do I have to return to Jamaica before starting a different university programme in the United States?

As long as you remain a full-time student, your F-1 visa will be valid at your new school and if you remain in the United States you may go directly to the new programme. However, you must obtain a new Form I-20 from your new programme. If you decide instead to return to Jamaica before beginning your new programme, for example, for the summer holiday, you will need to apply for a new F-1 visa with your new form I-20 at the US Embassy before going back to the United States.

Q. I would like to take a trip outside the United States while I am on school break and I have relatives in Canada I'd like to visit. Can I use my student visa to travel to Canada?

You are certainly welcome to come and go as you please while you are on school holidays so long as you continue to be enrolled as a full-time student. Before departing for such trips, be sure to get a new, signed copy of your Form I-20 to present at the border when you return to the United States to continue your studies.

Your F-1 student visa is only valid for travel to the United States. If you wish to travel to Canada, you will need to apply for a separate Canadian visa.

Q. I know I need to demonstrate my financial plan for school in order to qualify for an F-1 student visa. May my American fiancee be my financial sponsor?

In order for you to qualify for an F-1 student visa, you must establish that you have sufficient funds to cover school and living expenses while studying in the United States. In addition to scholarships and grants, friends and family, both in Jamaica and abroad, can serve as financial sponsors. Please remember that an F-1 visa is still a non-immigrant visa. To qualify for such a visa, you must show that that you have a permanent residence outside of the United States that you intend to return to upon completion of your studies.

You can find more information about how to travel to the US on our website, on top of embassy news on our Facebook page, by following@USEmbassyJAonTwitter. We also answer general visa questions on ourFacebookandTwitterpages.

For safety and security reasons, the US Embassy asks that all individuals arrive no more than 15 minutes before their designated visa appointment time.

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