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US now allows student visa applications up to one year in advance

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • The US State Department has expanded the application window for F and M visas to up to 365 days before the student’s planned programme start
  • The move appears designed to help smooth visa processing delays and make it easier for students and US institutions to better plan ahead

On 21 February 2023, the US State Department announced an expansion of the time period during which international students may apply for an F or M-class visa to study in the United States. Up that point, students were able to apply only 120 days before their planned programme starts. Under the revised rule, the US will accept student visa applications up to 365 days in advance.

The move appears designed to smooth visa processing backlogs and to allow both students and US institutions to plan farther in advance.

“As a former Consular Officer, I still remember all of the times I had to turn students away for applying ‘too early’ or giving them an administrative processing slip for them to return within the 120-day window – which was so frustrating for international students,” US immigration attorney Mandy Feuerbacher said on LinkedIn. “This is going to be a huge help for international students applying for the F-1 or M-1 student visa this year, especially given all of the visa backlogs that still exist for students.”

The new application window went into immediate effect with the 21 February announcement. Applicants are cautioned, however, that a related, long-standing rule remains in place: students with approved visas can only enter the US within 30 days of their programme start date.

Please see this State Department webpage for a more detailed briefing on visa rules, including current waiting times for interview appointments.

For additional background, please see:

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