What to do if your US F-1 Study Visa is delayed?

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Bryan Smith - December, 25 2022

7 min read

About the author

Content Manager at Prodigy Finance, helping international students gear up to study abroad

Since the United States Government resumed F-1 Study Visa applications and interviews after the most strict COVID-19 lockdown measures were lifted, there have been numerous delays affecting the processing of new tourism and study visas.

Why might my F-1 Study Visa application be delayed?

Your F-1 study visa could be delayed due to a number of reasons that, unfortunately, may or may not be within your control.

Common reasons for your study visa being delayed are:

Security checks, including:

  • Your field of study
  • Your name
  • Your country of birth
  • Your citizenship or nationality

Embassy or Consulate delays, including:

  • COVID-19 outbreaks
  • Local unrest or security concerns causing closures
  • Incoming workload

What do I need to know about US Embassy closures?

While a majority of US Embassies and Consulates closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority have since resumed operations and are now processing applications.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs, within the US Department of State, offers an online list of US Embassies and Consulates which can be visited here. Each individual branch or office has particular details around their operations.

Where can I check US visa processing times?

The Bureau of Consular Affairs offers an online wait estimate which can provide you with an indication of the current delay you may face when applying for an F-1 Study Visa.

To use this tool, you’ll need to input the city where your relevant Embassy or Consulate is located. You’ll then be provided with the estimated appointment wait time by number of calendar days. You can access the Wait Time Estimate here.

Where to check US Consulate appointment wait times

It’s important to note that this is only an estimate, and can change weekly based on the incoming workload at an Embassy or Consulate as well as staffing concerns.

You can alternatively view a global list of estimated visa wait times here.

What is the usual F-1 visa processing time?

Typically, a US F-1 Visa requires a processing time between 5-6 weeks from interview to completion.

As of December 2022, a current aggregate view of visa application times from all US Embassies and Consulates operating around the world indicates a minimum 28 day wait, which amounts to 4 weeks.

When will my US Embassy reopen?

While a majority of US Embassies and Consulates have re-opened, some may still remain closed or have had their operations temporarily suspended.

Boundless.com maintains a list of operational US Embassies and Consulates with descriptions of what services are currently available.

How do I inform my school of a delay?

If you face a visa delay or a change in your immediate plans, you’ll want to immediately contact your school and International Student Affairs office (or similar) to ensure that you can relay your situation and make the next best plan.

If your Student Visa has been delayed

Visa delays can unfortunately affect anyone, and there is ultimately little that your school may be able to do to speed up the process.

However, if your visa delay affects your arrival in the US, and in turn, on your campus, or if you are unable to arrive by the start date of your classes, you will have to relay this information timeously.

If you’re unable to arrive in the US before the start of a fall or spring semester, you’ll want to contact your relevant Student Affairs department timeously to advise their office accordingly. If you are unable to arrive by the start of your intended classes, you may need to take a leave of absence or request admission for a later semester - and, of course, re-apply for a US F-1.

Typically, most international student affairs offices require at least a 30-day notice to report your US address and full-time enrollment on campus.

If your Student Visa has been denied

If your US F-1 visa has been denied, you should receive a written reason for your denial from a consular officer which can inform you of your next steps.

While there is little your school can do to assist you if your visa has been denied, you may still be eligible to re-apply for an F-1 visa if you can address the initial reason why your visa was denied in the first place.

If you intend to re-apply or need to request admission for a later semester, you will need to request a change to your I-20/DS-2019 start date within 60 days of the program start date on your initial I-20 form.

If you are granted admission for another semester 60+ after the program start date on your I-20 form has passed, you must request a new initial attendance I-20 or DS-2019 from your relevant admissions office and settle the SEVIS I-901 fee once again.

Should I change my travel plans?

Without a valid F-1 visa, you will not be allowed entry into the United States and in turn won’t be able to start your intended study programme.

Changing your travel plans to accommodate when your F-1 visa will be issued is the best course of action to take. Many major airlines will offer flight rebooking services through either a penalty fee or for free if you have taken cancellation insurance beforehand.

Will a delay in obtaining my visa affect my Prodigy Finance loan application process?

If you have actively applied for a Prodigy Finance student loan to fund your masters degree abroad and have a delay in securing an interview for your visa, we’re here to help you.

If you’ve begun uploading your documents to confirm your Prodigy Finance loan, let us know if your visa has been delayed so we can make any necessary adjustments to accommodate your application.

If you have an approved loan with us and your loan agreement has been made available to you for signing, but you are experiencing a delay in obtaining your visa, you'll need to reach out to us and inform us accordingly.

We may need to arrange a new signing date to accommodate this delay, which could affect our ability to disburse your funds on time - and potentially incur late payment penalty fees from your school. We’ll explain this process to you fully, and work with you to reach the best possible outcome.

What should I do if my visa has been rejected?

If your visa has been rejected and you’d like to appeal this decision, and simultaneously have a current loan application, you can reach out to us to let us know - we will consider your case individually and may place your application in a holding status. This will prevent your application from being withdrawn.

Lastly, if you’d like to withdraw your loan application, you’re also welcome to let us know your preference at any time - and remember, your Prodigy Finance loan will become binding only once you have signed your loan agreement and we have countersigned.

Chat to our mentors for study abroad advice

If you’re preparing to begin your international student journey, you likely have many questions about how you can set yourself up for success.

Why not chat to students who have been in your shoes?

To have your burning questions answered, you can chat directly to students turned graduates who’ve financed their studies with a Prodigy Finance student loan and ask as much as you need to - from visa queries, accommodation concerns, and more!

The Prodigy Finance Team is here to help with any questions that your mentor may not be able to answer.

Disclaimer:

The purpose of this guide is to provide students with an overview of some of the more prevalent types of visa to remain and work in the USA post study. Each student’s personal circumstances and requirements for entering and remaining in the US will determine which type of visa will be required by that person to enter and remain in the US. This guide is not directed at nor created for the benefit of any particular individual nor any relevant or particular matter and therefore does not constitute legal or immigration advice or as a substitute for the official information published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from time to time or any instructions and/or advice provided by US embassies and consuls. Whilst we have carefully compiled the guide in accordance with the information published by USCIS and other official sources, Prodigy Finance Limited does not accept liability for any inaccuracies, mistakes, omissions or outdated information in the guide and we encourage students and other readers to consult the USCIS’s website. Prodigy Finance Limited is not authorized by the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to provide immigration services and will not provide any additional information or assistance to any person to apply for any type visa.

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