An F-1 visa is used by students to attend an established institution of learning or other place of study in the United States certified by U.S. Investigations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)'s Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
How do I obtain an F-1 Visa?
Some of the steps a student must take to become a foreign student include:
1) Gain admission to an educational institution such as college, university, language school, etc. The institution issues SEVIS Form I-20. U.S. Most non-immigrant students attend elementary and secondary school in another non-immigrant status such as H-4 or L-2 but certain elementary or secondary schools have been approved by ICE to issue an I-20. An F-1 student can also attend a public secondary school for up to 12 months if he or she reimburses the school for the full cost of attendance.
2) Change to student status if they are in another valid non-immigrant status in the U.S. before attending school or apply for a student visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy outside the U.S. Applicants for a student visa must meet several requirements including: 1) that they have the funding to attend school without violating their F-1 status; 2) they do not intend to remain permanently in the U.S. and they intend to leave once they finish their studies; 3) a school has issued an I-20; 4) they are sufficiently proficient in English (if applicable).
Can I work with an F-1 Visa?
CIS regulations determine whether you are able to work on-campus, off-campus, or pursuant to practical training. Currently, students who have been enrolled at least one full academic year in an educational institution (college, university, seminary, or conservatory) certified by ICE's SEVP are eligible for 12 months of optional practical training (OPT). The employment should be directly related to the student's major.
USCIS recently published Interim Final Rule allowing students with a bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. degree in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or related (STEM) included in the Designated Degree Program List to obtain a 17-month extension prior to the expiration of their approved OPT period for a total of 29 months. Employer must be enrolled in USCIS' E-verify program. It also expands cap-gap relief for all F-1 students with pending H-1B petitions.
Can F-1 visa spouses and children live and work?
Admissible spouses and dependent children under 21 can obtain F-2 status to live but not work in the US while F-1 student is in status. Children in F-2 status can attend public elementary and secondary school.
How can we help you?
We provide information on how to apply for an F-1 student visa and we also help you complete the documentation necessary to obtain a student visa after you have been issued an I-20. If you have a qualifying STEM degree and your employer is in compliance with the E-verify program. If necessary, we can assist you with reinstatements and provide information about work visas available to students after completing their studies and OPT, if any.