What Is an F-1 Visa?
The F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign students to enter into the U.S. to attend a full-time course of study at colleges, universities, conservatories, academic high schools and institutions with language training programs.
Who qualifies for an F-1 visa?
The requirements for an F-1 visa are that you must:
- be coming to the U.S. as a full-time student in a program which leads to the attainment of a specific vocational or educational objective;
- already be accepted by a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement;
- be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;
- prove that you have sufficient funds to complete your education; and
- maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of giving up.
What are the benefits of applying under this visa category?
While on F-1 status, you may legally work part-time on-campus during the school year, and full-time off-campus during the summer breaks by applying for it. After graduation, you may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), to spend 12 months in employment after your studies complete. An additional 17-month extension is available for those whose degree falls under the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) group. As far as transfers are concerned, you may transfer from one school to another or switch programs through a simple procedure where USCIS is notified of the change.
The spouse and/or unmarried, minor children of F-1 holders are eligible to come to the United States on an F-2 Visa, if they are able to demonstrate that the F-1 student has been admitted and is, or will be within 30 days, enrolled in a full course of study, or engaged in approved practical training following completion of studies. F-2 visa holders are considered the dependents of F-1 students; furthermore, F-2 holders must be issued an individual SEVIS Form I-20 and may remain in the U.S. as long as the principle F-1 student maintains valid status.
How can an attorney help in this process?
An attorney will be able to ensure the necessary documentation is provided in support of the application, and prepares the applicant for interview process, so that there are no last-minute surprises. If the applicant is in the U.S. and wishes to change his/her stay on F1 visa, the attorney can identify factors that can make or break your application. It is possible to produce the best results when we combine immigration legal experience with your personal facts, arguments, and documentation.