Frequently Asked Questions
How do I obtain an F-1 visa?
You should make an appointment for a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate, preferably in your country of citizenship. During the interview, you will be asked to submit your passport, your I-20 form, the affidavit of support from your sponsor and your financial documentation, which should demonstrate you and your family's "strong ties to the home country." You should also submit your WSU admission letter. Be prepared to answer questions about your reasons for studying in the U.S. and your plans to return home after you complete your studies. If your documents are in order and your responses to questions meet the interviewer's expectations, you will be issued a visa in your passport.
What if I am denied a visa?
Most students are denied for one of two reasons:
- They can't describe why they selected the college and the program of study that they did; or
- They can't give evidence of the fact that they intend to return to their home country upon completion of their program of study. Be prepared to answer questions of this type, and take whatever evidence you have that supports your case.
Try to find out why you were denied so that you can address the interviewer's concerns and apply again. If you are missing some documentation, you can obtain it and apply again.
My F-1 visa stamp in my passport has expired. What do I do?
Don't worry. The visa stamped in your passport is an entry visa and only needs to be valid upon arrival to the U.S. You can remain in the U.S. legally as long as your passport is valid; you are continuing to make good progress toward your degree; and as long as the date indicated as your expected completion date on your I-20 has not passed. However, the next time you choose to leave the U.S., you will need to go to a U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a new entry visa.
Can I work with an F-1 visa?
Students with F-1 visas are eligible to work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and 40 hours a week during holidays/summer break. After you have been in lawful F-1 status for two semesters, you can apply for off-campus work.
How do I add my spouse as an F-2 dependent?
Complete an application for an I-20 and provide OISS with the appropriate financial documents, a copy of your spouse's passport and a copy of your marriage certificate, and we will add your spouse to your record. They can then use the new I-20 we issue to either apply for a visa to enter the U.S. in F-2 status or change their status while already in the U.S.
I plan to visit my home country. What do I need to do before I depart?
Please review important information on the Travel Outside the U.S. page.
I need to leave the country suddenly for a family emergency. What should I do?
Talk to an OISS advisor and get their signature on your I-20. Check whether you need a new F-1 visa to return to the U.S. and make sure you have a valid passport. You may need to fill out a departure form, too, depending on the nature of your emergency and when you plan to return.
I am an international student/scholar and need to go to another country for my research during the summer break. What should I do before I go there?
See the Travel Outside the U.S. page for more information.
I am traveling abroad this summer and my I-20 was endorsed last winter. Do I need a new I-20?
Travel endorsements are good for one year, so if you'll be returning less than a year after your previous endorsement you do not need another one.
I will have a gap between my OPT end date and the H-1B start date. Do I have to maintain my immigration status?
Contact an OISS advisor with your H-1B receipt/approval notice to extend your OPT date until September 30 in SEVIS.
What is H1B visa premium processing? Do I need it?
Premium processing is an optional service provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for a fee. You send your request for premium processing to DHS along with the H-1B petition to guarantee quicker response (either the petition is approved, denied, or more support documents are needed).