Ever wondered about the possibility of earning an American education as an international student? Thankfully, USCIS offers a variety of programs/pathways for applicants to apply for visas. This article aims to explain three main types of student visas: F-1, M-1, and J-1 visas.
The F-1 student visa program is designed for foreign students that want to study in US American language schools. These language schools may often be found in high-schools, universities, and other higher-education institutions.
USCIS outlines specific requirements that applicants will need to fulfill in order to be eligible for F-1 status
- The student must plan to live in the United States when attending a US government-recognized academic institution.
- The applicant must demonstrate and have a valid educational purpose for wanting to attend a school in the United States.
- The individual must remain a full-time student during the period of stay in order to maintain an F-1 status. To be clear, part-time students are not eligible for F-1 status.
- Lastly, they must be able to meet all the financial requirements such as tuition and living expenses. F-1 students are prohibited for participation in courses funded by the public.
Interested applicants should keep in mind that the current F-1 status restrictions will legally limit a student to only up to 15 hours of on-campus employment (per week). Prospective applicants should seek a legal expert and be prepared to demonstrate how they will be able to financially support themselves, without resorting to illegal work.
Financial considerations are important know be if financially capability cannot be established, your F-1 visa will certainly be denied. Additionally, remember that F-1 visas are granted in 12-month terms. After obtaining F-1 status, it can be subsequently renewed without students having to leave the country. Lastly, they can continue to reside in the U.S. under the status if they are still enrolled in school.
M-1 Vocational Student Visas are designed for those who intend on engaging in non-academic or vocational student in an eligible U.S. institution. For individuals with M-1 status, they can work part-time on campus, with off-campus employment authorized only after USCIS approval.
USCIS outlines specific requirements that applicants will need to fulfill in order to be eligible for M-1 status
- Applicant has successfully completed any and all courses required for enrollment in a USICS-approved institution.
- Applicant has been accepted for a full course of study by a USCIS-approved institution.
- Student is proficient enough in English to successfully participate in the course of study.
- Can demonstrate enough funds to cover the first year of tuition. Moreover, proof of access to funds to cover subsequent years of tuition and living expenses.
- Applicant maintains a permanent residence in his or her home country. Additionally, they have no intention of abandoning the home country residence.
- Applicant intends to leave the United States as soon as the course work is terminated. In other words, they do not plan on using M-1 status for permanent residency.
- Applicant’s intended course of study will prove useful in the applicant’s home country
Lastly, the J-1 visas are designed for students looking to come to the US for practical training related to their academic studies. The J-1 exchange visa permits student to participate in work and travel programs (paid or unpaid) that can also help finance their stay. This is very different from the F-1 work where it cannot be used as your only source of funds.
USCIS outlines specific requirements that applicants will need to fulfill in order to be eligible for J-1 status
- Applicant must have a US State Department-approved sponsoring organization. These sponsoring organization often help guide prospective individuals through the application process.
If one of the three student visa programs interests you, it is highly advised that you consult a legal professional that specializes in immigration. Having the right legal team alongside your application will help ensure that your application is filed correctly and in a timely manner.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice.
For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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