STUDENT VISAS

F1 visas allow hundreds of thousands of foreign students to study at universities and public schools all across the United States. If you wish to pursue academic studies in the United States, you must be eligible for F-1 student status. During the 2019-2020 school year, approximately 1,075,496 foreign-born students were enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, representing 4.6% of the total U.S. student population. These are the “Student” visa for foreign students who are qualified to attend a full time program of study at a high school, college, university, language schools or conservatories (F-1) or a trade school (M-1) in the U.S. 

How to Get Admitted to a School?
In order to apply for F-1 or M-1 visa, the student must have obtained from the school a “Certificate of Eligibility” (I-20) by which school  officials screened and attested to the student’s acceptance, the program into which (s)he was accepted, the costs of the programs and the student’s financial resources to meet those costs. The I-20 is required when the student applies for this type of Visa. Schools and universities in the U.S. are familiar with the admission and certification of international students and would be a good resource for information to navigate through the admission into the school as well as the process of applying for the F-1 or M-1 visa. 

How to Transfer / Working while in School? 
While F-1 and M-1 status are school specific, the student with F-1 or M-1 Visa may transfer from school to school or change study programs. However, when doing so (s)he must notify such change to the USCIS. F-1 or M-1 holder may have his(er) dependents to come along as far as the proof for financial sufficiency is provided to cover everybody’s needs. (S)He may work on the campus within certain limit. Under certain conditions and circumstances the USCIS may grant authorization for the student to work off campus (See Employment Authorization Documents or EAD). 

Can I change my Status? 
F-1 visa holder may not apply for the Permanent Resident status while under F-1. It is possible however to apply for an Change of Status to an employment based Non Immigrant status such as M1 or H-1B.  F-1 and M-1 visa holder is allowed to stay until the end of the study program. An extension is possible, to begin with the I-20 extended by school officials. F-1 or M-1 visa must be applied at the U.S. Consulate in the country of origin of the student.

GENERAL RESOURCES

REQUIREMENTS FOR F-1 & M-1 VISAS

There are two nonimmigrant visas for full-time students in the U.S. which are the F-1 and the M-1 Visa. 

  • Be enrolled full-time in a language training program, a vocational program or an academic program at a school listed with the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement

  • Show that you have enough funds to support yourself during your stay

  • Show English language proficiency or be enrolled in English proficiency classes

  • Show that you have a residence abroad that you intend to return to

F-1 Student Visa

To qualify for the F-1 Visa (Academic Student) the following must apply to you:

  • Be enrolled full time as a student at an elementary school, high school, college, university, conservatory, seminary, language training program or other academic institution

  • The program you are enrolled in should be approved by the U.S. for international students

  • The program should culminate in a degree, certificate or diploma

M-1 Student Visa

While studying in the United States, it is important to maintain your status which relates to the purpose or reason for why you want to come to the United States. As an M-1 student, your primary purpose for coming to the United States is to complete a full course of study at an SEVP-certified school. This means you must not take any action that detracts from fulfilling this purpose and follow the regulations associated with studying in the United States. The M-1 visa (Vocational Student) applies to all other full time students who are in nonacademic, vocational programs.

F-1 and M-1: Employment

Any paid work that students accept off or on campus must be pre-approved by the Designated School Official who maintains the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and USCIS activities on campus. The work must also be related to their field of study. F-1 students can only work on campus under special conditions during their first academic year.

Starting their second academic year, the following off-campus paid work is permitted:

M-1 students can take practical training off-campus once they complete their studies.

 
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