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People apply for F-1 status when they wish to come to America in order to study at an academic institution with intent of graduating with a certificate or degree. In order for a person to pursue an F-1 visa, they must fulfill certain requirements. These requirements include:
Coming to the United States with the sole intent of engaging in an accredited program of study that ends with a degree or certificate.
Already being accepted by the prospective educational institution. Likewise, the education institution must also be approved by the USCIS.
Being proficient in the English language.
Having independent financial support to study in America. The individual should not need to work in order to support their education and living expenses.
Full-time status while studying at the educational institution. The only exemption to this is the final semester in the student’s program. Undergraduate international students must possess at least 12 credits each semester. The minimum for graduate level international students is 8 credits.
A student cannot gain F-1 status if they are still in the planning stages of their education. A student must have already received an I-20 (or proof of admissions) in order to apply for the F-1 visa. When the F-1 visa application is submitted, the I-20 is included.
Important Note: If you still have not been admitted into a school but wish to begin the visiting/selection process, you must apply for B-2 status. This status grants you tourist rights so that you can tour and visit campuses in the United States. Inform your consulate of your wishes in order to start the application process for your B-2 visa. A person can easily change their B-2 status to to F-1 status in the United States.
When you are ready to prove your proficiency in the English language, you will be required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). You are only exempt from this requirement if you originate from a country where English is considered a primary language.
You can prove your financial support for your time spent studying in the US by providing financial documents. These documents must prove that you have a sufficient amount of funds to support yourself for at least a year abroad.
When is F-1 Status Obtained?
Unlike many other visas that are only issued a limited number of times during the year, F-1 status can be issued to an unlimited number of applicants. This means you can apply for it during any part of the year.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an F-1 Visa?
If you possess F-1 status, you can work a part-time job on campus while school is in session. During summer break, you are permitted to work a full time job. However, this privilege must be applied for. Once you graduate, you will have the option of applying for OPT (Optional Practical Training). This allows you to spend an additional year after graduation working in your area of specialty in order to gain experience. You can apply for an additional 17 months of work if your area of study is classified under the STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) group. If you wish to transfer schools or programs mid-study, you can do so once the USCIS is made aware of the intent.
One thing to keep in mind when attempting to obtain F-1 status is that it does not support “dual intent.” This means that you cannot both intend to be a student as well as immigrate. If you are in the midst of a green card petition, you might find it hard to become approved for an F-1 visa. Once you are approved for OPT, you must not remain unemployed for more than 90 days. If you are unemployed for this long, you will be forced to return to your country of origin. Volunteer work is classified as legitimate employment. If you have been granted a STEM extension, volunteer work will not suffice for legitimate employment.
How Can a Lawyer Help with an F-1 Visa?
A lawyer can do quite a bit to lend a helping hand with an F-1 visa application. Not only will a lawyer help you prepare a strong case for being approved, but they’ll be there every step of the way in the event that the USCIS requires more detailed information.
We know what it takes to satisfy the USCIS’s requirement for F-1 visa applications. We can provide sounds advice that you simply can’t get from any other source. We’re also well versed in handling OPT and STEM extensions, as well as virtually any other matter or issue regarding your F-1 visa.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We can help you fully understand F-1 status, the documents you’ll need in order to qualify for it, how to remain F-1 compliant for as long as possible, and more. The countless satisfied clients that we’ve helped over the past several years can’t be wrong. Consider us for legal representation today.