F-1 and M-1 student visas and the J-1 exchange visitor visa are non-immigrant visas. Student visas allow foreigners to come to the U.S. for educational purpose and then return to their home countries. Once you have completed your education, under an F-1 or M-1 visa, you may be able to extend your stay with another type of visa. If you are interested in going to school in the U.S., please talk to the immigration lawyers of the Chávez Law Group, today.
Student Visa Basics
F-1 visas are for academic study, M-1 visas are for vocational study, and J-1 visas are for exchange students. Some of the basics of student visas include:
- Student visas are for fulltime students. You must go to school at least 18 hours a week on a student visa.
- You may be able to work up to 20 hours a week while in the U.S. on a student visa.
- You can bring your spouse and children under 21 to the U.S. They will need the proper corresponding visas and typically cannot hold a job while they are here.
- Student visas allow you to enter the country up to 30 days before your course of study begins. If you need to arrive sooner for some reason, you will also need a visitor visa.
- An F-1 visa can apply to school beginning in elementary school all the way through completing your PhD. F-1 schools include private elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities, and language schools.
- F-1 visas allow you to stay for the full duration of your studies
- M-1 schools are vocational and technical schools, including community and junior colleges which offer vocational and technical classes and technical high schools.
- M-1 visas may only give you one year or less in the U.S.
Qualifying for Student Visas
To receive a student visa you must be accepted to a Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SVEP) certified school. The school will send you an I20 form which you will need for your application.
You must prove that you can support yourself and pay for your schooling, or that someone else will support you, so that you will not become a public charge or be forced to resort to illegal employment during your stay in the U.S.
Optional Practical Training and H-1B Visas
Optional practical training (OPT) is a twelve month extension on your visa which allows you to work in a position that is relevant to your education. After you have completed your education under an F-1 visa, if you find a job in your field, you may also be able to stay on an H-1b visa.
After a J-1 exchange period you may be required to spend two years in your home country before you are allowed to apply for a different immigration status U.S.
If you or someone you love is interested in obtaining U.S. citizenship or is facing deportation, please talk to the immigration lawyers of the Chávez Law Group, today, or submit our online questionnaire.