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F-1 Visa Updates: Benefits for International Students in the U.S.

Monday | May 22, 2023 | by WES Advisor

A group of students are standing outside. They are looking at a book together and appear happy.

Recent changes in the F-1 visa application process could benefit those pursuing higher education and work experience in the United States. Read on to learn more about the F-1 visa updates and how they could benefit you as an international student. 

What are the F-1 visa updates? 

In this blog post, we will discuss three major F-1 visa updates:

  • Visas can be issued up to one year before the start of a student’s academic program. 
  • The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program has been expanded. 
  • There is now a premium processing option for OPT authorization. 

What are the benefits for those who want to come to the U.S. to study? 

The U.S. State Department can now issue F-1 visas to students up to 365 days before the start date of their academic program. Previously, an F-1 visa could be issued only up to 120 days in advance – often too short a time period for international students to finalize their study and travel plans. 

Students will now be able to start planning their move to the U.S. much earlier than previously. The change might also improve current visa processing delays and allow for the existing backlog of applications to be addressed. 

While visas can now be issued further in advance, students should remain aware of any rules about when they may enter the country. In most cases, students will still need to wait 30 days before the start date of their academic program to enter the U.S.  

How will the F-1 visa updates help international students who are already in the U.S.? 

International students who are already in the U.S. could benefit from expansions to the OPT program. The program allows international students to temporarily stay in the U.S. after graduation to obtain work experience. 

The changes will allow more students to work under the OPT program for longer periods of time. The Biden administration has also reported that it is working to attract more international students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). For example, the administration has committed to making Permanent Resident Cards (known as Green Cards) accessible to more international graduates in STEM fields. 

Lastly, quicker premium processing is now available for some F-1 visa holders looking to obtain authorization for temporary employment related to their area of study. The request form can be submitted online – another change that could help expedite the authorization process. Read more about working in the United States as an international student.   


Moving to the U.S. to study requires advance planning, and these F-1 visa updates will offer international students greater flexibility. For the most current information on visa rules and restrictions, always consult the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. 

Related Reading

How To Apply To A U.S. University as an International Student
Top 5 Reasons to Get a Credential Evaluation

WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 45 years of experience in international education. We provide advice and resources for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, immigration, and integration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.