Certain Student Visas Now Can Be Issued One Year in Advance

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently announced that first time F and M student visa applicants now can be issued visas up to 365 days in advance of the program start date listed on the I-20 form. Prior to this change, F and M visas could be issued no more than 120 days before the program start date.


There have been growing concerns over the long wait times for F and M applicants at some U.S. consulates. The DOS has tried to reduce the long wait for visa interviews by waiving the in-person interview requirement for many visa applicants. While this has helped, there are still some consulates where, if an in-person interview is required, the earliest appointment for an F or M visa applicant may be several months away.

Policy Applies to Visa Application, Not Date of Admission

The new policy allows F and J students to apply for a visa foil (sometimes referred to as a visa “stamp”) up to a year before the program start date. However, the applicant cannot enter the U.S. this far in advance based on the visa. The earliest a person can request admission into the United States on an F or J visa is typically 30 days before the program start date.


This update should help to smooth visa processing delays and make it easier for students and U.S. educational institutions to plan ahead. The current wait times for interview appointments can be found on the State Department website.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.