Most countries require incoming international students to possess a student visa in order to study abroad. Some general requirements for the visa application process include updated personal photos, a birth certificate, and a valid passport. However, more and more countries are including in another item to their general lists of requirements: proof of travel medical insurance.

Proof of travel medical insurance confirms you will have adequate coverage for potential medical costs incurred within your destination country. This is especially important in a country that does not have a universal health care system, like the United States.

If you’re traveling to the United States to study abroad, there are a number of requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to receive and F-1 visa.


What's an F-1 Visa?

An F-1 visa is a legal document issued to international students enrolling in an educational program within the United States. These educational programs include:

  • Colleges
  • High schools
  • Seminaries
  • Conservatories
  • English language programs

Students are required to maintain their full-time student status in order to retain their F-1 visa throughout their study engagement.

F-1 Visa Requirements

Here’s a list of requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to get your student visa:

  • Accepted at an SEVP approved school
  • Paid SEVIS fee
  • Completed a Form I-20
  • Completed visa application (Form DS-160), submitted electronically.
  • Acquired legal documents
    • A valid passport
    • Form DS-160
    • Application fee payment receipt
    • A passport photo
    • Form 1-20
    • Proof of subsistence and accommodations during intended stay (how will you provide for yourself while in the U.S.?)
  • Scheduled Interview

    For more F-1 Visa information, go to the U.S. Department of State website.

How to Get an F-1 Visa

1. Before you’re able to apply for an F1 Visa, you must apply for and be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) approved school (your study abroad school).

2. Once you’re approved, you will be enrolled in the SEVIS where you will have to an initial application fee and fill out a Form 1-20.

3. After that you will need to fill out your visa application, also known as the Form DS-160. This is submitted electronically to the Department of State website.

4. Finally, you will return the I-12 form to your consular officer during your F1 visa interview. For your interview, remember to:

  • Clearly articulate your intentions for studying in the U.S. The main focus should be the education, not the chance to find work after graduation.
  • Not bring family members into the interview. After all, you’re the one studying abroad, not your parents. This will display your maturity and confidence in your ability to study abroad responsibly. (If you’re a minor, have your parents stay in the waiting room in case they need to sign specific legal documents).
  • Create a positive first impression. Consular officers are extremely busy and prefer to conduct efficient interviews. In many cases, they can make a final decision after a couple minutes into the interview.

NOTE: According to the U.S. Department of State, “Students with F Visas have an additional 60 days after the programs end date listed on Form I-20, and any authorized practical training, to depart the United States.” If you need to extend your stay further, you can check out the how to do that here.


What Are the SEVP and SEVIS?

SEVP: The Student and Exchange Visitor Program is a program issued by the Department of Homeland Security, acting as a bridge for government organizations to keep track of nonimmigrants studying in the United States. SEVP provides approval and oversight to schools authorized to enroll nonimmigrant students (F1 and M1 Visa holders).

SEVIS: The Student Exchange Visitor Information System is a Web-based program used to maintain data regarding:

  • Information on SEVP certified schools.
  • F1 and M1 students visiting the United States to study.
  • Sponsors for the U.S. Department of State-designated Exchange Visitor Programs.
  • J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program participants.

Schools use the SEVIS to petition the SEVP to become legally certified in order to offer educational programs to nonimmigrant students.

Why Do I Need Travel Medical Insurance?

  • Schools require students to either register for a predetermined insurance plan, or provide their own comparable medical coverage via waiver form. Students planning to waive a school’s mandatory insurance plan have the opportunity to seek other coverage options that align closer to their budget expectations. However, alternative travel medical plans must comply with the school’s health insurance requirements.
  • The United States does not have a universal healthcare system for its citizens and foreign visitors to cover medical costs incurred within its borders. Instead, U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens use private insurance companies to assist with medical costs.
  • F-1 visas do not require applicants to possess travel medical insurance. However, applicants may be asked to provide proof of subsistence for potential medical costs incurred during their stay. Travel medical insurance is commonly used for this.
  • It’s also a proactive way to help protect yourself from potential medical costs.

How Can I Get Travel Medical Insurance?

StudentSecure offers a series of international student health plans that meet the insurance requirements for many schools and study abroad programs. See each of the four products side-by-side here to discover which plan best fits with your study abroad budget and expectations.