F-1 Visa

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the U.S. as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program.

What Is an F-1 Visa?

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the U.S. as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. The applicant must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate, and the U.S. government must authorize the school to accept international students.

F-1 Student Visa application

Nonimmigrant students must present documentation to the U.S. consulate regarding two principal areas:

  • The student’s means of support during their stay in the United States. It must be sufficient to assure that all expenses are covered without the need to engage in employment/li>
  • The student’s intention to maintain a foreign domicile and leave the U.S. upon completion of their studies (“bona fide nonimmigrant intent”)

(a) The student’s financial resources

The school estimates the cost of a year of study at the school and the amount of resources available to the student. The student must document the extent and source of his or her resources to the U.S. consulate to obtain an F-1 visa. The purpose of this evidence is to ensure that the student will not need to resort to employment to finance his or her education in the U.S. or cover other living expenses. The student should be prepared to produce the following, covering the total amount of expenses projected by the school:

➡ Financial aid given or disbursed by the school

The applicant can demonstrate that expenditures will be covered by financial aid resources available at the school, such as fellowships, scholarships, or assistantships.

Financial aid given or disbursed by the student’s home government In some cases, the home governments fund the foreign student’s studies in the U.S. Documentation for this kind of financial aid should include formal notification of the payment of expenses by the government and the school’s indication of this source of payment on Form I-20.

➡ Financial aid from private organizations

The student may receive some form of grant or aid from a private foundation or other institution. Formal notification of this award should also be included and indicated by the school as an available resource on Form I-20.

➡ Personal funds of the student

The student may pay some or all of the educational expenses. To verify that the student has sufficient resources, he or she should be prepared to show bank statements backed up by certified statements from the banks regarding the current level of deposits. He or she can also provide a record of other assets that can readily be converted into cash to pay expenses, such as securities.

➡Funds from the student’s family

Their immediate family, particularly parents, routinely fund many students. In addition to bank statements, other records of liquid assets and securities, and real and personal property, the documentation from the family can include statements from the family’s bankers regarding the available credit line the bank is ready to extend the family, and employment letters for family members verifying the salary levels of those members.

➡ Funds from other persons

When the student claims support from persons other than immediate family members, the consular officers are bound to closely question the actual obligation these persons felt to extend the support. Consequently, this source of support is the least likely to be accepted, even when the resources of the persons are thoroughly documented by means of the supporting evidence just discussed for family members and for the student.

List Of Required Documents?

(b) Evidence of the student’s nonimmigrant intent

Many consular officers see students, mainly when they are young and single, as prime candidates for overstaying their visas and remaining indefinitely in the United States. Whether the perception of consular officers is correct or not, the prospective students must document their ties to their home countries –ties sufficient to give some assurance that they will leave the U.S. and return home at the end of their studies. In preparing the supporting documentation to show that he or she has bona fide nonimmigrant intent, the student should focus on four types of evidence: family relationships, community ties, property and economic interests, and career potential.

➡ Family relationships

One good piece of evidence on a student’s likelihood of returning to his or her home country is the location of the close family members. Ideally, the student can show that he or she has no close family members currently in the U.S. and that all close family members will remain in the student’s home country. Again, getting an affidavit to this effect from a parent might be helpful, specifying the residence of each member of the student’s immediate family.

➡Community ties

The student’s participation in community activities also shows that he or she has ties to the home country, which are unlikely to be permanently severed. Therefore, the student should document any organizations that he or she belongs to, including religious organizations or social groups.

➡Property and economic interests

The more financially rooted the student (or his or her family), the more likely it will appear that the student will return to his or her home country. The ownership of a business or real property in the home country would demonstrate ties. Documentation of such property interests should also be included with the visa application.

➡Career potential

Particularly when the student is young, and it is difficult to establish other ties with his or her home country, it is important to show that the student’s education in the U.S. will give a tremendous career potential in his or her home country.
The ideal situation is a job being held open for or already offered to the student in his/her field of study. More likely, the student might be able to supply letters from employers or labor market experts recounting the potential for persons with the degree sought by the student or the shape of growth in the field in the applicant’s home country.
An affidavit from the student stating the use to which he or she hopes to put the acquired education in his or her home country would also be helpful.

➡Evidence of SEVIS fee payment

All the foreign nationals receiving a Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility with an issuance date of September 1, 2004, or later will be subject to the SEVIS fee of $100 unless they qualify for a fee exemption.

Individuals whose certificate of eligibility is issued prior to September 1 are not subject to the fee. The SEVIS fee is intended to cover the operating costs of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, including SEVIS compliance efforts and the hiring and training of SEVIS liaison officers.

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Other Type Of Student Visa

Maintaining the F-1 Status

While studying in the U.S., the beneficiary must maintain the F-1 student status. If the Department of State issues an F student visa, the student must not engage in activities that detracts from the purpose for which the visa was issued. Maintaining the status means:

  • Fulfilling the purpose for why the Department of State issued the visa.
  • Following the regulations associated with that purpose.

Let’s look at the things that the beneficiary must keep in mind in order to maintain the F-1 visa status.

➡ Arrival

When arriving at the United States, F-1 students must:

  • Enter the United States no more than 30 days before the program of study begins.
  • Immediately contact the designated school official (DSO) when on arrival in the U.S.
  • When the beneficiary arrives at school, he/she needs to contact the DSO again, no later than the program start date listed on your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”

➡Education

While studying in the United States, F-1 students must:

  • Attend and pass all the classes. If the school seems too difficult, one should contact the DSO immediately.
  • If the beneficiary believes that he/she will be unable to complete the program by the end date listed on Form I-20, he/she should contact the DSO and request the date extension.
  • The beneficiary must take an entire course of study each term. If the beneficiary cannot study full-time, one must immediately reach out to the DSO.
  • One must also avoid dropping a class without first speaking with the DSO.

➡Annual Vacation for F-1 Students

F-1 students must complete at least one full academic year at a SEVP-certified school to be eligible for a yearly vacation. Additionally, students must enroll in classes the next academic term after their annual vacation. Students can take as many, as few, or no classes as they like during their annual vacation. All studies done during an annual vacation are considered incidental to status by SEVP.

➡Work and Practical Training for F-1 Students

In some cases, an F-1 student may only work with the permission of a DSO. In others, the permission of USCIS must be obtained. You will need to leave the U.S. immediately if you choose to work without authorization, and you may not be permitted to return at a later date.During the program of study, F students are eligible for curricular practical training (CPT) at either the undergraduate or graduate level. Employment as a CPT must be part of an established curriculum and must be directly related to your primary field of study. The school’s policy on this option can be obtained from your DSO. Optional practical training is available to F students during or after their program of study. OPT is a type of temporary work directly related to your academic program.

Keep reading for more information about training options that are available to the beneficiary –

Practical Training

F-1 students are eligible for two types of F-1 practical training:-

  • Optional practical training (OPT)
  • Curricular practical training (CPT)

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a kind of temporary employment directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.

Types of OPT

All OPT must be directly related to the beneficiary’s major area of study. The student eligible for OPT can participate in OPT in two different ways-

➡Pre-completion OPT

One may apply for pre-completion OPT after being lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at a college, university, conservatory, or seminary that has been certified by the U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to enroll F-1 students. The beneficiary does not need to have the F-1 status for the one full academic year. One can satisfy the “one full academic year” requirement even if he/she had another nonimmigrant status during that time.If the beneficiary is authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT, he/she can work part-time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session. However, the beneficiary may work full-time when school is not in session.

➡Post-completion OPT

The applicant may apply to participate in post-completion OPT once the studies have been completed. If one is authorized for post-completion OPT, he/she may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full time. If the applicant participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS would deduct that duration from your post-completion OPT authorization period.

➡STEM OPT Extension

If the beneficiary has earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, he/she may apply for a 24-month extension of the post-completion OPT employment authorization provided:

  • The beneficiary received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program
  • He/she was employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify; and
  • The beneficiary received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on the STEM degree.

If you are interested in applying for a STEM OPT extension, you can reach out to our immigration lawyers for assistance.

➡Applying for OPT

The beneficiary must:

  • Request the designated school official (DSO) at your academic institution to recommend the OPT. The DSO will make the recommendation by endorsing your Form I‑20, Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, and making the appropriate notation in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  • Properly file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS, accompanied by the required fee and the supporting documentation as described in the form instructions.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

To be considered for the CPT training, it is crucial that –

  • Training is directly related to the student’s main field of study
  • Training is an integral component of the school’s curriculum
  • CPT was permitted on SEVIS by designated school officials (DSO), and the authorization was printed on the student’s Form I-20.
  • Occurs before the student’s Form I-20 programme termination date
  • Authorization is granted to a single employer for a set length of time
  • Students must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorised
  • Before the student can start working, CPT must be approved
  • At the same time, students might have multiple CPT authorizations
  • After one year of full-time CPT, a student’s eligibility for OPT is revoked

➡Eligibility

The DSO can authorise CPT for an F-1 student enrolled at a SEVP-certified college, university, conservatory, or seminary if the beneficiary –

  • Is lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least a full academic year. Note: Exception exists for students in graduate studies whose programs require earlier training.
  • Is not studying English as a second language
  • Has secured a training position

➡CPT Process Overview

Step:1 Student requests CPT using the school’s established processes
Step:2 DSO reviews requests and determines student’s eligibility for CPT
Step:3 DSO authorises CPT in SEVIS for a specific employee and prints and signs Form I-20 with CPT authorization.
Step:4 Student begins to work in or after the CPT date

As you can see, the visa application process for F-1 status is a bit taxing and involves keeping in mind several aspects. Immigration Lawyers at the Law Office Of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, New York are aware of the issues involved in the F-1 visa USA, including problems with SEVIS, Optional Practical Training, Curricular Practical Training, transferring schools, consular processing, STEM students, etc. We can guide you through the dos and Don’ts in the application process for an F-1 visa and can help you file all the documents on time. For more information, contact The Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy at prashanthi@reddyesq.com, or call us at 212-354-1010.

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