An alien who is going to pursue full-time academic studies in a college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, private elementary schools, other academic institution, or language-training program in the U.S. can apply for an F-1 Visa with a U.S. consulate abroad. In order to be eligible to apply for an F-1 Visa, various documents should be submitted to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. An F-1 Visa holder is permitted to change his or her educational objectives once the visa has been approved and is also allowed to change schools without approval from U.S.C.I.S.. F-1 Visa holders can change status to other visa categories like H-1B. F-1 Visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States during their educational program, but can be authorized for employment in connection to ‘practical training’ once their studies are complete. Students who hold a degree in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are also eligible for a 17-months extension on their ‘occupational practical training.’
F-1 Visa holders are permitted to bring family members to the United States in F-2 status.
Many times students get accepted by their school of choice but are unable to attend classes because they were denied the visa at the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The experienced immigration attorneys at Immigration Solutions LLC can help you prepare for the interview and assemble the requisite supporting evidence. Contact us today to discuss your situation.
Reinstatement of F-1 Student Status
Students studying in the United States on F-1 Visas can fall out of lawful status in a number of ways. Dropping below a full course of study, failing to keep one’s passport renewed, or failing to properly inform an appropriate school official of one’s arrival to the U.S. or a change of address can all lead to a student falling out of status. If a student falls out of status, he or she can be placed in removal proceedings and, potentially, deported from the United States.
An F-1 student that has fallen out of status can apply for reinstatement of his or her F-1 status if he or she can show either that:
- He or she fell out of status due to circumstances beyond his or her control, or that
- He or she fell out of status due to a reduction in the student’s course load that would have been within a Designated School Official’s power to authorize, and that
- Failure to approve reinstatement would result in extreme hardship to the student.
A student must apply for reinstatement within five months of falling out of status, unless exceptional circumstances prevented him or her from doing so. A student is not eligible to apply for reinstatement if he or she has worked without authorization, has a record of “repeated or willful” immigration violations, or is otherwise deportable from the United States.
If you have fallen out of status and need advice, please contact Immigration Solutions as soon as you can.
M Visa: Vocational Student.
Unlike F-Visas, which are available to foreign students seeking to enter the United States to engage in purely academic studies, M-Visas are available to foreign students who wish to pursue vocational studies at a community college, junior college, or vocational school (including flight school, cooking school, etc.) in the U.S. The process of obtaining an M-Visa is substantially similar to obtaining an F-Visa, insofar as students seeking an M-Visa must present a valid SEVIS 1-20 at their consular interview and must meet the same general requirements as students seeking F-Visas.
M-Visas are considerably more restrictive than F-Visas. An M-Visa holder is not permitted to change his or her educational objectives once his or her visa has been approved, nor is he or she allowed to change schools without approval from U.S.C.I.S. An M-Visa holder cannot reduce his or her course load without a medical reason, and is not permitted to change his or her status from M-status to F-status or, generally, to change his or her status from M-Status to H-status.
M-Visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States during their educational program, but can be authorized, like F-1 students, for employment in connection to practical training once their studies are complete. Employment may be authorized for either six months or for one month for every four months that the student was in school, whichever is shorter. M-Visa holders are permitted to bring family members to the United States in M-2 status. Many times students get accepted by their school of choice but are unable to attend classes because they were denied the visa at the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The experienced immigration attorneys at Immigration Solutions LLC can help you prepare for the interview and assemble the requisite supporting evidence. Contact us today at 617-536-0584 or fill out the form at our Contact Us page.
Thousand of students come from around the world to the U.S. every year on student visas since there are no quotas for this kind of visas.
There are three major types of student visas:
- F -1 visa: academic studies for individuals who want to pursue studies or conduct research at an accredited U.S. College or University;
- J visa: academic studies as an Exchange Visitor for individuals who will be participating in an exchange visitor program in the U.S. The J visa is the primary visa for education and cultural exchange programs.
- M visa: non-academic or vocational studies for individuals who want to study or train at a non-academic institution in the U.S.
Documents for Student Visa Applicant
Once you are admitted to a course of study the University or College will issue Form I-20. You will need to book an interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over you. This usually depends on your foreign address.
I Mandatory documents
- Current passport as well as old passports;
- Confirmation page of Form DS-160 with CEAC bar code;
- Visa fees, which need to be paid in advance prior to booking an appointment;
- Original interview appointment letter;
- Both pages of the bar-coded, original SEVIS generated Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) obtained from a U.S. College, school or university, signed by both the school official and you;
NOTE: all students, and their dependents, spouse and children must register with SEVIS. The school is responsible for entering your information for the Form I-20 into SEVIS.
- Original proof of payment of SEVIS Fee Receipt I-901. Please note that the SEVIS payment is for the Principal Applicant only. Dependents DO NOT have to pay the SEVIS fee.
II Supporting documents
- Evidence of financial resources:
- Proof of liquid assets sufficient to pay for at least one year of tuition and living expenses, as well as, proof of readily available funds to cover the remaining year of studies;
- To demonstrate financial resources you should bring:
- Parent or sponsor’s original tax returns;
- Parent or sponsor’s original bank records;
- Parent or sponsor’s employment letter and/or pay slips;
- Notarized Form I-134 Affidavit of Support if you are financially supported by an individual in the U.S. together with the sponsor’s Federal Tax Returns for the previous 3 years;
- If you secured a loan to pay for the tuition you should bring the official documents showing the loan approval.
After your have successfully arrived to the U.S., you need to contact your Designated School Official (DSO). This is usually the person that signs your I-20 and he/she will be able to answer questions about your stay, visa, program, maintaining student status, suspensions, transfer to a different College, etc.
U.S. Public School
According to U.S. law foreign students are unable to obtain a F-1 visa to attend a public elementary or middle school. Nevertheless, a F-1 visa can be issued to attend a public high school (grades 9-12) up to 1 year. The school will need to indicate of Form I-20 that the student has paid the unsubsidized cost of the education and the amount submitted by the student for that purpose.
In addition, a F-1 visa holder is supposed to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the beginning of classes. F-1 and M-1 student visas can be issued up to 120 days in advance of your program’s start date. However, you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. in F-1 or M-1 status earlier than 30 days before your start date.
If you are thinking about traveling outside the U.S. and your F-1 visa is about to expire, you will need to renew it. In order for you to do so, you must have maintained student status and your SEVIS records must be current.
If you are wondering what “Maintaining Student Status” means, you should note that the definition of "full-time" can differ from school to school. This means that immigration regulations may require a more restricted definition of "full-time" than that followed by your department. The Department of Homeland Security requires that you register during your university’s registration period, and if you fail to do so, you will be in violation of student status.