Immigration Lawyers LA (Los Angeles): Non Immigrant Visas: F1 Student Visa

General Overview of F-1 Student Visa

F1 visas are for students who wish to attend a school, college, or university in the United States. The F1 student visa is valid for as long as it takes the student to finish his or her course of study. F-1 visas allow students to work on campus, and off campus in some situations. Upon completion of their academic programs, F1 visa holders are eligible to apply for employment authorized practical training. F-1 student visas will not grant a permanent residency in the United States, and students must leave the United States within 36 days once the course of study or practical training has been completed.

F-1 visa is one of the two non-immigrant visas offered for students who wish to study in the United States. F1 visas are issued to students who wish to enroll in academic studies and/or language training programs. Students who wish to study nonacademic or vocational studies should apply for M-1 visas. The first step for the prospective student is to apply and get accepted at a school. The school must be an SEVP-certified school.

Once the student's application has been accepted by the school, he or she will be issued a form I-20. Once a form I-20 has been obtained, the student may apply for a student visa at U.S. consulates and embassies outside the United States, and must have the following qualifications:
  • Be enrolled in an academic educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program.
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution.
  • Be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.
  • Have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study.
  • Maintain a residence abroad which he or she has no intention of giving up.

Financial Abilities

Proof of sufficient funds for self-support is important because employment opportunities are limited and conditional under F1 visas. Students may work on campus for less than 20 hours per week. However, a special permission is required from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services before a student can work off campus.

Transfer to Another School

A student may transfer to another school by completing the F-1 transfer process. The transfer procedure is initiated by the school you are currently attending and is completed through SEVIS by the new school. In order for the students to be eligible for the transfer, student must be maintaining legal F-1 student visa status and must notify the current school of intention to transfer.

Optional Practical Training

A student may participate in Optional Practical Training (OPT), which is a temporary employment that is directly related to the student's major area of study. The student may work full time up to 12 months after completing his or her course.

Completion of Course

Students who have completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies is allowed an additional 60-day period to prepare for departure from the United States or to transfer to a different academic institution approved by USCIS.

Spouses and Dependents

Spouses and dependents of F1 visa holders may enter and stay in the United States under F-2 visas.
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