A Student Visa, F-1 Visa, is a visa for international students who have
been admitted to attend school in the United States. Applicants of an
F-1 visa must prove that they are solely seeking to enter the US with
the purpose of studying at a US institution. Family members of an F-1
visa holder who are on F-2 visa may not attend school unless they change
their status from F-2 to F-1, however, an F-2 child may attend school
from grades Kg- 12. Similarly, a B-1/B-2 visa holder may not attend a
school in the US unless he changes his status in the US or he has attained
an F-1 visa abroad. Attending school while on a B-1/B-2 or F-2 visa without
changing status or having an F-1 visa will result in a denial of a change
of status to an F-1 visa.
In order to apply for a student visa, applicants must:
§ Have residence in a foreign country and must show that he has no
intention of abandoning said residence;
§ Prove that he is actually a student who is eligible to take up a
full course of study;
§ Maintain a full course of study while on the F-1 visa;
§ Be English proficient or receive training that will make him proficient
in English. The school/institution where he will attend may show why English
proficiency is not required by the applicant in certain cases;
§ Have the intention to depart the US;
§ Show availability of funds as proof of financial support for his
time in the US;
§ Have the sufficient academic credits to attend a school/institution;
§ Present a SEVIS Form I-20 issued by an approved school/institution;
§ Pay the SEVIS fee;
An F-1 visa holder may enter the United States up to 30 days prior to the
start date of the school which he will be attending. After the F-1 visa
holder completes his studies, he is given a 60-day departure period. He
may change his status to H-1B or another status during this period.
The F-1 visa is issued at US consulate for students outside the US. At
the consulate, officers must verify the data in the SEVIS system and the
SEVIS I-20 before issuing a visa. If no SEVIS record is in the computerized
system for an F-1/F-2 applicant, the consulate will deny the application.
Commuter students from Mexico and Canada may attend school full-time or
part-time in the US on an F-3 visa so long as they do not reside in the
US. While commuter students are subject to SEVIS, they cannot apply for
F-2 visa for their dependants.
The family of the F-1 visa holder may follow to join the F-1 visa holder
who is already enrolled or will be enrolled within 30 days in a full course
of study or is undergoing practical training. The family members of an
F-1 visa holder are not granted work authorization and may not attend
school except that a child may attend school from grades K-12. Each family
member who will be accompanying or following to join the F-1 visa holder
must be issued a separate SEVIS I-20.
An F-1 visa holder may transfer schools if he is a bona fide student who
is currently pursuing a full course of study and intends to pursue a full
course of study once he transfers. He must also prove that he has the
financial ability to pay for the school he is transferring to.
In order for an F-1 student to transfer schools, he must be studying full
time and cannot be engaged in unauthorized employment. The F-1 student
must also notify his current school of transfer plans, obtain a new completed
SEVIS I-20 for the school he is transferring to and notify the Designated
School Official (DSO) at the school he has transferred to. He must notify
the DSO at the new school within 15 days of the start date stated on the
F-1 visa holder’s SEVIS I-20 form. An F-1 visa holder may not transfer
to a public elementary school or a publicly funded education program.
He may not transfer to a public secondary school unless he agrees to reimburse
the school for the cost of the education before the F-1 visa is issued.
Failure to do this cancels the F-1 visa holder’s status and makes
him inadmissible in the US for five years. If the F-1 visa holder does
not comply with any of the transfer conditions when transferring to a
public secondary school, it will render the F-1 visa holder out of status.
For the first academic year (9 months) while the F-1 visa holder is in
the US and enrolled in school, he may not be employed unless he is working
on campus. Working on campus includes working at the actual campus or
working off campus at a facility that is educationally related to the
school. An F-1 visa holder may only work 20 hours a week when school is
in session and full time when school is not in session provided the job
that they hold is not going to displace any US workers.
Transferring from one school to another requires a new authorization to
work. Students who are in good standing after their 1st year here may
be given work authorization if the DOS finds that the student has severe
economic hardship or an internship with an international organization.
An F-1 visa holder may also receive practical training if he is a full
time student for at least one academic year, which is an average 8 to
9 months, the training is not for English language training, it is related
to his course of study, and it is employment for the purpose of practical
training. Curricular practical training is usually an alternate work/study,
internship, cooperative education or any other type of internship program.
Post completion training is not available for those students that have
already obtained one year or more of curricular practical training. Curricular
practical training may be obtained on a “part time” basis
or a “full time” basis. “Part time” basis means
working less than 20 hours a week; “full time” basis means
working more than 20 hours a week. If a student works on a part-time basis
for 2 years or on a full time basis for 1 year, he is not eligible for
post-completion practical training. A student may only undergo curricular
practical training if he has been a student for at least one year and
also only if the student has a job offer to apply for curricular practical
training. Students who request curricular practical training must submit
requests to the DSO only.
OPT, or Optional Practical Training, is training that can be used during
a school vacation, while school is in session (in which case, no more
than 20 hours per week will be permitted), after completing all necessary
courses for a degree program or after the completion of a course study.
Practical training that is unused cannot be used at a later time unless
reserved. OPT is limited to 12 months and training must be completed within
14 months of graduation. In order to request OPT, a student must apply
before the completion of his program and no earlier than 90 days before
his completion of one full academic year. A DSO must make the recommendation
for OPT under SEVIS and she must indicate the start and end dates, as
well as indicating whether it is for full-time training or part-time training.
A student cannot receive practical training unless he has filed for employment
authorization by submitting a Form I-765 and receives an EAD card. Transferring
from one school to another terminates the practical training of the F-1 student.
An F-1 student can leave the country after he receives work authorization,
he may resume working as long as he is entering on SEVIS I-20 and Employment
Authorization Document (EAD) card and is attending the same school. The
EAD must be presented at the port of entry upon the return of the F-1
student. If a student has completed his studies and is on OPT, he must
show his F-1 visa upon his return from his travel abroad.
In order to apply for a Social Security Card, a student must submit his
I-20, current I-94, evidence of age, evidence of work authorization and
full time attendance at school, both of which can be obtained by the DSO.
If an F-1 student is not registered as a full-time student, transfers schools
without proper authorization, is employed without authorization or does
not complete a full course study, he is considered to be out of status
and may be deported. An F-1 student who has been out of the US for more
than five months will be terminated from SEVIS. In order to re-enter the
US, the student must then receive a new SEVIS I-20 and F-1 visa.
"If you would like to file a Student visa and/or require additional
information in regard to Student visas, please contact Arjun Verma, Immigration
Attorney, 1754 Technology Dr., Suite #214, San Jose, CA 95110. Phone Number