woman standing in hallway while holding book

How can study in the US with an F-1 Visa?

Giselle Ayala Mateus, Esq.

The F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreigners international students to enter the US to study in certain qualified educational institutions certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

SEVP is a part of the National Security Investigations Division and acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students. SEVP manages schools, nonimmigrant students in the F and M visa classifications and their dependents, visitor programs, and nonimmigrant exchange visitors in the J visa .

The F-1 visa is one of the most popular types of student visa for students seeking to study at a US university or college. Thus, international students planning to pursue degrees in full-time academic programs for Bachelor’s, Master’s or doctoral programs must obtain a student visa.  

It is crucial to understand that a student visa is a non-immigrant visa. It is a temporary visa and applicants must be aware of this when thinking about the F-1 visa as a path to a longer visa or immigration status. As a F-1 student, the duration of the applicant stay will vary based on the duration of the educational program.

The basic F-1 Visa requirements

There are several F-1 visa rules to keep in mind, the applicant must meet these requirements to be accepted:

– Institution certification. The college or the university where the applicant plans to study needs to be approved by SEVP Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

Full-time enrollment. The applicant must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution while the academic term is in session.

– English language proficiency. The applicant must meet the required English language proficiency score of the institution or be enrolled in courses that will help improve English proficiency.

Sufficient funding. The applicant must prove he/she has sufficient funds available to finance the studies and living expenses while in the US.

Valid passport. The passport should be valid for US travel for at least six months after the educational program ends.

Home country residency. The applicant is required to have a residence outside the US in its home country to return to following the completion of the degree.

The involvement of the school, college or university in the process

Once the applicant is enrolled, a representative of the educational institution, usual someone in charge of the international students program, will be in charged of providing the I-20 form. The I-20 form provided by the institution will list the expiration date of the program. This is very important because the applicant is required to earn the corresponding degree before the expiration date on the I-20. This date will also impact the duration of the visa and the allowed time for the student in the US.

The Optional Practical Training (OPT)

The optional practical training program is one type of work permission available for eligible F-1 students. It allows students to get real-world work experience related to their field of study. Although a Designated School Official (DSO) may recommend OPT in SEVIS (the platform for international students), it is the student who must apply for the work permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If the OPT is approved, USCIS will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The applicant cannot begin working before the start date on the EAD.

Under OPT an international student may work for up to 12 months in the US. For STEM (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and refers to any subjects that fall under these four disciplines.) graduates, applicants may request two additional years of work in a related field.

Once the OPT terms is finished, if the student has no extensions or additional training available, the student will need to return to her home country within 60 days after.

Spouses and unmarried children of F-1 students

If an international student has a spouse or unmarried minor (under age 21) children who will accompany the student during the program in the US, the student will receive additional Forms I-20. Family members that are eligible and receive these dependent forms will have to apply for an F-2 visa.

Be Prepared: Know Your Program and Why You Want to Come to the United States

The interview process can be overwhelming for some applicants. To ensure a good experience, the applicant should be prepared for what to expect. Some of the questions the applicant may encounter are these:

Why do you want to study in the United States?
Why are you going to take this program of study?
Why did you choose this institution?
Can you pursue your course of study in your home country?
Why do you need to pursue your course of study in the United States?
What career will your studies prepare you for back home?
Where will you be staying in the US?
Do you have family in the US?
Are you planning to come back?
Have you been denied a visa before?

If you have any questions about the visa application process or if your visa is delayed or denied, speak with our office as soon as possible. You may contact G.A.M. Law Office by calling +1646 397 2396 or emailing the office at ayala@gisellea.sg-host.com

You may also like…

Decoding Disclosure: Influencers’ Common Pitfalls 

Decoding Disclosure: Influencers’ Common Pitfalls 

In today’s digital sphere, influencers wield considerable sway over their audiences, often partnering with brands and businesses. Yet, amidst the captivating narratives they weave, the need for transparent and clear disclosures stands tall. Properly navigating these disclosure norms isn’t just about legal compliance; it’s the cornerstone of maintaining trust and authenticity. Join us on a journey through the essential elements of disclosure etiquette, exploring the fine balance between regulatory adherence, ethical responsibility, and sustaining meaningful connections with followers.

10 Essential Year-End Tasks for Business Owners

10 Essential Year-End Tasks for Business Owners

As the year draws to a close, it’s crucial for business owners to wrap up loose ends and prepare for a fresh start. Here’s a comprehensive checklist to guide business owners through the necessary steps for a smooth transition into the new year