An F-1 student visa is for those who wish to pursue full-time academic studies at a recognized college or university in the United States. To qualify for an F-1 visa, you must be accepted by a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-approved institution. An institution can be a 4 year college or university, a 2 year college, a professional program, or a conservatory program.
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This visa permits you to remain in the United States for your education, plus a grace period of 60 days and a period for OPT or CPT if you qualify.
Options for F-1 Student While In The USA
You have several options as an F-1 student visa holder studying in the United States, such as:
On-campus Employment: You are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during the school year and full-time during school breaks.
Optional Practical Training (OPT): You may be eligible for up to 12 months of work permission in your field of study if you have completed one academic year.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT): You can enroll in a paid off-campus job important to your academic program.
STEM OPT Extension: If you are a student in a STEM field who has completed 12 months of OPT, you may be eligible for a 24-month extension.
Change of Status: You can alter your non-immigrant status to H-1B (temporary worker), O-1 visa (artist visa) or green card status (permanent residency).
Note that you must retain your position as a full-time student and make academic progress to comply with your visa.
Where Can You Apply For An F1 visa?
You may apply in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a student F-1 visa and present the Form I-20 to the consular officer when you attend your visa interview.
If you are currently in the US, then you can file for a Change of Status if you qualify to do so.
F-1 Visa Qualifications
To qualify for an F-1 visa, you must do the following:
Must have a foreign residence.
Accepted by a U.S. college or university participating in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
Demonstrate that your entry into the United States is purely for the purpose of enrolling in a full-time academic program and that you have adequate finances to support your tuition and living expenses without engaging in unlawful employment.
Demonstrate strong ties to your home country and the intent to return after completing your studies.
You must not have a disqualifying criminal record or a history of immigration offenses.
It is essential that you discuss these requirements with an experienced attorney, as the requirements for an F-1 visa are subject to change, and the consular officer may request additional evidence or information during the visa interview.
Elektra Yao, also known at The Artist Visa Lawyer ®, has successfully represented record labels, modeling agencies, production companies, individual artists, and creatives. She is passionate about the arts, specifically the intersection of entertainment and immigration.