While some short studies are permitted while in the U.S. as a visitor, most student programs will require a student visa. Our office handles student visa applications including F-1 for academic studies, M-1 for vocational studies, and J-1 for exchange visitors. After studies are completed, many programs offer Optional Practical Training, in order to work for one year in your field. J-1 visas often require the individual to return to his or her home country after the program is completed. Our firm can assist in obtaining a waiver of that requirement under certain circumstances.
- F-1 Academic Student
The F1 student visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign students to enter into the U.S. to attend a full course of study at colleges, universities, conservatories, academic high schools (subject to strict regulations) and institutions with language training programs.
To qualify for F-1 visa, the applicant must:
- Be proficient in English, unless you are coming to the U.S. to participate in an English language training program. In some cases the school may make special arrangements to teach you English;
- Prove that you have sufficient funds to complete your education without engaging in unauthorized employment in the U.S.;
- Attend a full course of study at a school authorized by USCIS;
- Have Form I-20A-B issued by your school;
- Have a permanent residence in your home country, which you do not intend to abandon;
- Intend to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study. You may establish this by presenting evidence of economic, social and/or family ties in your homeland;
Privileges of F-1 Visa:
- Come to the U.S. as a full time academic or language student enrolled in a program leading to a degree or certificate;
- Transfer from one school to another or switch academic programs by notifying the change to USCIS;
- Legally work part-time, on-campus if so authorized by the school. You may even seek off-campus employment if it is economically necessary or if it involves practical training;
- Travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. until the completion of your studies.
- Bring your dependents with an F-2 visa.
- M-1 Vocational Student
The M1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for international students who wish to pursue a course of study that is not principally academic in nature at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution such as a post-secondary vocational or business school.
To qualify for a student visa, the applicant must prove that:
- You have successfully completed a course of study normally required for enrollment;
- You have been accepted for a full course of study by a vocational institution approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The institution must provide Form I-20M-N, certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant (M1) student status for vocational students;
- You are sufficiently proficient in English to pursue the intended course of study, or the school you intend to attend has made special arrangements to teach you the English language;
- You have sufficient funds to cover the first year of study, and access to sufficient funds to cover subsequent years without engaging in unauthorized employment;
- You have a permanent residence in your home country, which you do not intend to abandon;
- You intend to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study. You may establish this by presenting evidence of economic, social and/or family ties in your homeland;
- Your proposed education in the U.S. would be useful in your homeland after you leave the U.S. upon completion of studies.
- J-1 Exchange Visitor
The J-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to participate in exchange programs to promote the sharing of knowledge and skills in education, arts and sciences. Some J-1 visas are subject to a two-year 'Home Residency Requirement,' which requires that the participant return to his or her home country for at least 2 years after completion of the program. The J-1 visa and Form DS2019 will usually indicate whether the J-1 is subject to the 2 year requirement. If the applicant is subject to the 2 year requirement, he or she may be eligible for a waiver under certain limited circumstances.
J-1 visas are often used for:
- Students at all academic levels;
- Trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies;
- Teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools;
- Professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning;
- Research scholars;
- Professional trainees in the medical and allied fields;
- Au pairs;
- Summer camp counselors.
- J-1 Waivers
We have successfully represented many applicants seeking a waiver of the 2 year home residency requirement. Waivers may be available based on:
- Fear of persecution in one’s home country;
- Exceptional hardship that would be suffered by a US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or child;
- A statement issued by the person’s home country indicating that it does not object to waiving the 2 year home residency requirement;
- Application made by an interested U.S. Government agency willing to sponsor the J-1 visa holder.
- Special waivers are available for International Medical Graduates who will serve in medically underserved areas, or who are sponsored by a State Agency (Conrad 30), or an interested Federal Government Agency such as the VA or HHS.
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