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Residence Abroad Requirement for F1 and M1 visa application

August 23, 2022

Department of States updated the Foreign Affair Manual to include residence abroad requirement for F1 and M1 visa application. As a part of the visa application, applicants must prove that they will intend to depart the US upon completion of their study in the US. According to the new guideline, student visa applicant, by providing evidence to live with their family, parents or guardian when their approved activity (“study”) in the US are completed, can meet the “present intent to depart the US requirement” than otherwise.
(CT:VISA-1439; 12-20-2021)
a. (U) INA 101(a)(15)(F)(i) and INA 101(a)(15)(M)(i) require that an F-1 or M-1 applicant possess a residence in a foreign country he or she has no intention of abandoning. You must be satisfied that the applicant intends to depart upon completion of the approved activity. Consequently, you must be satisfied that the applicant, at the time of visa application:
  • (1) (U) Has a residence abroad;
  • (2) (U) Has no immediate intention of abandoning that residence; and
  • (3) (U) Intends to depart from the United States upon completion of approved activities.
b. (U) The context of the residence abroad requirement for student visas inherently differs from the context for B visitor visas or other short-term visas. The statute clearly presupposes that the natural circumstances and conditions of being a student do not disqualify that applicant from obtaining a student visa. It is natural that the student does not possess ties of property, employment, and continuity of life typical of B visa applicants. These ties are typically weakly held by student applicants, as the student is often single, unemployed, without property, and is at the stage in life of deciding and developing their plans for the future. Student visa adjudication is made more complex by the fact that students typically are expected to stay in the United States longer than do many other nonimmigrant visitors, to complete their program of studies. In these circumstances, it is important to keep in mind that the applicant’s intent is to be adjudicated based on present intent – not on contingencies of what might happen in the future, after a lengthy period of study in the United States. Therefore, the residence abroad requirement for student applicants should be considered in the context of the usual limited ties that a student would have, and their immediate intent.
c. (U) While students may not be able to demonstrate the same strong “ties,” present in other classes of applicants, their typical youth often conveys a countervailing major advantage in establishing their bona fides: they are not expected to, or do not necessarily have a long-range plan, and may legitimately not be able to fully explain their plans at the conclusion of their studies. As most students are relatively young and many reside with parents or guardians, you can consider a student to be maintaining a residence abroad if he or she intends to return to reside with parents or guardians. Nonetheless, you must be satisfied at the time of application for a visa that the visa applicant possesses the present intent to depart the United States at the conclusion of his or her approved activities. That this intention is subject to change or even likely to change is not a sufficient reason to deny a visa. Further, the present intent to depart, does not infer the need to return to the country from which they hold a passport. It means only that they must intend to leave the United States upon completion of studies.