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  • Writer's pictureRathee Law Firm

STUDENT VISA APPLICATIONS CAN NOW BE FILED ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE

F and M student visas can now be issued up to 365 days in advance of the I-20 program start date, allowing more time for students to apply for a visa. Students are still not allowed to enter the U.S. on a student visa more than 30 days before their program start date.


WHAT IS THE NEW RULE?


In an announcement by the United States Department of State on February 21, 2023, students can now apply for F & M visas one year before the I-20 program start date. Although, students are only allowed to enter the U.S. on a student visa up to 30 days before their program start date.


HOW WERE THE APPOINTMENTS HANDLED PREVIOUSLY?


The students could schedule the visa interviews up to 120 days earlier, and universities could accept the I-20 forms four to six months before the term started. The new rule will also allow the universities to issue I-20 forms 12-14 months before the term time.


WHY IS IT BEING INTRODUCED NOW?


The United States has been struggling to reduce wait times for visa appointments. Therefore, in the past few months, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced multiple steps to ease the processing time - including special interview slots, interview waivers for some applicants, and a plan to allow domestic stamping of H-1B renewals. This new rule is another effort by the Department of State to manage the visa appointment wait time.


As per a Times of India report on 2/11/2023, several students from Hyderabad, who are not eligible for the interview waiver program, were traveling to Asian countries like Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Singapore other Asian nations to get ahead of the visa processing time at home.

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