State Department Updates Guidance on F-1/M-1 student intent to depart and residence Abroad requirements
The new guidance clarifies that although F-1 and M-1 students are required to show a residence abroad when applying for a student visa, the context is inherently different than that for B visitor and other short-term visa applicants.
While students are required to have an intent to depart the United States at the end of their studies, they likely will not have evidence of ties to property, employment, and continuity of life typical of B visa applicants.
Accordingly, FAM manual dictates the residence abroad requirement for student applicants should be considered in the context of the usual limited ties that a student has and their immediate, present intent to depart the United States at the conclusion of their studies.
An F-1 or M-1 visa should not be denied because there is some likelihood that their intent will change in the future.
The recent update to the Foreign Affairs Manual should help prevent student visa denials based on speculative determinations by consular officers.
‘The change was made under 9 FAM 402.5-5(E)(1)’
Foreign students must still show an intent to depart the U.S., but it reminds consular officers that they must not make assumptions about what might happen in the future.”
The restoration of the language in the Foreign Affairs Manual instructs consular officers to consider the ‘inherent difference’ between a young F-1 visa applicant and more established short-term visa applicant,”
This action ensures that the typical F-1 visa applicant won’t be penalized for not having the 'ties of property, employment, and continuity of life' that applicants for short-term visas, such as B tourists, might be expected to have, and instead to view these conditions in their proper context.”
Source: F.A.M _ Dept. of State + Forbes