Foreign students who would like to study in the US may consider applying for an F-1 nonimmigrant visa.
To be eligible for an F-1 visa, the student must first be accepted for enrollment in an established school that is certified by the International Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Additionally, the student must show that he: (1) Has a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence; (2) Intends to depart from the United States on completion of his course of study; and (3) Possesses sufficient funds to pursue his proposed course of study.
A student may apply for his visa as soon as he is ready – however, US Consulates will only issue a student visa 120 days, or less, in advance of the student’s registration date. (This date is noted on the student’s I-20 Form.) If the student applies before this day, the Consulate will hold the application until it can issue the visa.
After the visa is issued, the student must enter the US 30 days, or less, in advance of his registration date. If entering before this time, the student will need to arrange to enter the US on a different nonimmigrant status, and change to F-1 nonimmigrant status when he is eligible.
While the student is in the US, he should be careful to not violate his nonimmigrant status. Examples of status violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Failure to enroll by the date specified by his school on his I-20 Form
- Unauthorized employment during his stay
- Failure to leave the US following completion of his course or program-related employment.
- Failure to maintain a full course load without prior authorization for a reduction from the designated school official (DSO).
- The student may contact his DSO to obtain more detailed information on how to maintain his F-1 nonimmigrant status.
While F-1 students are generally not allowed to work for the first full academic year, they may apply for off-campus employment authorization in certain limited circumstances. Off-campus work authorization is mainly available to F-1 students through the Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training programs. You can find more information on these programs here.
PLEASE NOTE: Immigration law and regulations change frequently. In order to protect yourself, you should make sure that you understand the laws and how they apply to you. If you have questions about your status, you should consult an expert. If you would like help from our attorneys, please contact us.
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Immigration requirements change frequently, and complying with the immigration process can be confusing. Mistakes could hinder your professional goals for years.