USA Extends F and M Student Visa Application Timeline to 365 Days; Check Advantages of the Updated Policy

Obtaining visas to the United States had been a nightmare for Indians primarily because of inordinately long visa interview appointment wait times in India since the pandemic subsided. With the onset of 2023, the US government has taken various measures to remove the bottlenecks and improve the process at its mission and consulates in India, reasoning that “India is our number one priority” now.

Indeed, India is the second country (after China) to send the largest number of students to America every year. However, the interview appointment wait time has significantly dropped for Indian students seeking F, M and J visas, whereas there is little improvement in the wait time (as long as 600 to 700 days) for first-time B1/B2 visa applicants in India.

US student visa policy, US student visa news, when to apply for F1, M1 Visas


In one of the major moves, from domestic stamping of H1B visa renewal in the US to expanding visa interview waiver, the US Department of State has increased the student visa application timeline for India, China and other countries. Now onwards, international students can apply for F1 and M1 visas within 365 days before the commencement of their academic term. This surprising move is a much-needed respite for Indians looing upon America as the ultimate destination for higher studies.

Earlier, the US Mission and Consulates would open the student visa interview scheduling window not more than 120 days before the start of academic terms. The extended US student visa application deadline will allow foreign students, especially Indians, a lot more time to apply for a F1 or M1 visa and prepare for the interview. However, there is a catch. International students having confirmed visas can travel to USA only within 30 days prior to the date of their program commencement. The student visa policy update will also give US schools more flexibility and time to issue and accept the Form I-20.

Another advantage of the new US student visa application timeline is that US colleges and universities can now issue I-20 forms 12 to 14 months before their programs begin. The Form I-20 issued to a student officially confirms the student’s enrolment in a study program at a US school. Precisely, it is a certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status in the US. A Form I-20 is the document that demonstrates that an international student has the financial capacity to stay and study in the United States. The form is a must need to seek the benefits, if any, available to international students in the US.

The generous extension of the US student visa application window is the second big move after certain changes were made to the US student visa system and policy in the first big move in 2022.

Travel Beats, a leading community portal for Indians in America, reports on US visas and immigration. Travel Beats is a subsidiary of Indian Eagle Travel, a US-based trusted air-ticketing partner of Indians, NRIs, OCIs and US nationals. Indian Eagle offers students discounted flights tickets from USA to India every year.

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