F-1 & M-1 Visas for Students
Our Columbus Immigration Lawyers Can Help You Study in the U.S.
For many students around the world, studying in America is the opportunity of a lifetime. However, students entering the United States to study must be sure to follow certain guidelines in order to continue to pursue their education stateside. The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates is available to guide prospective or current students through any legal issue that may prevent them from pursuing their education in the United States.
The F-1 Visa and the M-1 Visa nonimmigrant categories are for foreign nationals who wish to attend school in the United States as students. The F category is for students attending a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language training program, or other academic institutions. The M category is for students attending vocational or other recognized nonacademic institutions.
If you have questions about student visas, our Columbus immigration attorneys are ready to help. Contact us at (800) 625-3404 for a consultation, and you will receive the knowledgeable, honest insight you need.
How Do I Qualify for a Student Visa?
In order to qualify for a student visa, you must have a residence abroad, and you must have no immediate intention of abandoning that residence. You must intend to depart from the United States after you completed your course of study. And, you must have sufficient funds for pursuing your course of study. Your first step is to get accepted for enrollment in an established school. The school must be Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified. The SEVP assists the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) in monitoring school programs and foreign students. SEVP schools transmit mandatory information and event notifications to the DHS and the DOS via the Internet.
What About a Short Recreational Course of Study?
If your primary purpose for visiting the United States is for tourism, but you also want to take a few recreational courses while you are visiting, you can do this with a B visitor visa, so long as your course of study is less than 18 hours per week. However, you will need the student visa if you want to attend seminars, conferences, or a program of study for academic credit.
Must I Leave the United States After I Graduate?
To qualify for the visa, you must have had the intention to depart from the United States after completing your course of study. This intention is measured at the time of the visa application, not at the time of graduation from school. It is very common for foreign nationals who intended to visit the United States temporarily to earn a degree from a U.S. educational institution to become employed in the United States after graduation under a work visa. Some may later adjust from nonimmigrant to immigrant status as permanent residents and may eventually become U.S. citizens.
How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. on a Student Visa?
Usually, admission is for the duration of status, meaning you may stay as long as you maintain full-time studies. Once you complete your course of study, you may be allowed additional time to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school. You may also obtain Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization for temporary employment that is directly related to your course of study.
What About My Spouse & Children?
As the primary applicant, you would have an F-1 or M-1 visa. Spouses and children may obtain F-2 or M-2 visas as dependents.
Other Types of Student Visa Categories
In addition to F and M visas, there are two other visa categories that apply to foreign students and instructors:
- J Visas: J visas are intended to promote cultural exchange between the United States and other countries. This visa applies not only to students, but also to professors, scholars, researchers, specialists, visitors, camp counselors and camp visitors, and au pairs. J visa holders may engage in a trainee or internship program for up to 18 months. J visa holders must return to their home country for at least two years, absent a waiver. Waivers are available for a variety of reasons, including waivers for international medical graduates who will practice in undeserved regions of the United States.
- H–3 Visas: This visa category is available to invitees of international organizations that wish to teach or instruct the visa holder in skills not designed to eventually provide productive employment. Hospital interns and nurses may also qualify for H–3 visas under certain circumstances.
Problems may arise if a student falls out of status. This may occur when a student is not pursuing a full course of study, transfers schools without permission, fails to complete a full course of study in time and cannot procure an extension, or is out of status and subject to deportation. If the government has revoked or challenged your F status, or you think that you may have possible compliance issues in the future, do not wait to involve an experienced lawyer.
Studying in the United States is a dream and a goal for many students and graduates around the world. The Columbus immigration lawyers of The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates stand ready to advise and defend the rights of international students.
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