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F-1 Student Visa

Are you a student and want to study in the United States? The lawyers at Shoreline Immigration can help you apply for an F-1 Visa. Schedule a time to speak with a lawyer today!

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What is AN F-1 Visa?

If you are interested in studying in the United States, it is important to understand the process of obtaining a student visa. The F-1 visa, also known as the Academic Student visa, allows individuals to attend an accredited college, university, seminary conservatory, private elementary school, high school, or other academic institution or language learning program in the United States. The program or course of study that the student enrolls in must conclude in a degree, certificate, or diploma. To apply for the F-1 visa category, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be enrolled in an academic educational program or a language-training program
  • The school must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement 
  • Must be enrolled in the institution as a full-time student
  • Must be proficient in English or enrolled in English proficiency courses
  • Must be financially self-sufficient during the entire course of study
  • Must maintain strong ties to home country with the intention of returning once you finish your studies in the United States.

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F-1 Visa FAQs

Can family members join me on a student visa?

Your spouse and unmarried minor children may apply for F-2 visas and join you in the United States. The school will need to issue each family member a Form I-20, and you must provide a copy of your student visa and proof of your relationship.

Can I work while on a student visa?

F-1 Students may not work off-campus for the first year. You may work on campus, but this is subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, F-1 students may accept employment in the following three categories:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension

F-1students may only seek off-campus employment in their field of study. This must be authorized by the Designated School Official (DSO) and USCIS.

Can I extend my stay on a student visa?

F-1 students have 60 days after their program end date listed on the I-20 to leave the United States. Failure to depart within these time limits will result in being out of status. If you need to extend your stay, it is important to discuss your options with your DSO.

Can I change my status while in the United States?

If you are already in the United States under a different visa category, you may change your status to F-1 if your nonimmigrant status is lawful and you have not violated any conditions of your status. You must first apply to a SEVP-certified school and go through the steps of obtaining Form I-20 and paying the I-901 SEVIS fee. You must also go through the additional step of filing a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to USCIS. If your current nonimmigrant status does not allow you to enroll in classes, you must wait to enroll in classes until USCIS has approved your status change. It is important to speak with the DOS at the school you will be attending in case you need to change or delay your start date. If you are not eligible to change your status from within the United States, you should consider going through consular processing by leaving the United States and applying for an F-1 visa. It is advised to speak with an immigration attorney who can advise you according to your unique situation.

If your circumstances change while you are in the United States under an F-1 visa, you may apply to change your status. It is recommended that you speak with your DSO about changing your status and seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney.

Can I transfer schools on an F-1 Visa?

You may transfer to a SEVP-certified school as long as you have consistently maintained F status at your current school up to the date of your transfer release. You should coordinate the transfer with your current DOS and the DOS at the new school to ensure that all transfer procedures are followed.