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F-1 Visa

What are the general requirements for an F-1 Visa?

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The following are the general requirements for an F-1 Visa:

  1. The student must be enrolled in an "academic" educational program, or a language-training program;
  2. The school must be approved by SEVIS (U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement);
  3. The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;
  4. The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;
  5. The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study; and
  6. The student must maintain a residence abroad which he/she has no intention of giving up.

Can I Travel Outside the United States under F-1 status?

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Students may leave the United States and be readmitted after absences of five months or less. Upon your return to the United States, you should provide immigration inspectors with:
  • A valid passport.
  • A valid F-1 entry visa stamped in the passport (if necessary).
  • A current SEVIS Form I-20 ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - for Academic and Language Students) signed by your appropriate school official (you should have the appropriate school official sign your SEVIS Form I-20 each time you wish to temporarily travel outside the United States).
  • A new SEVIS Form I-20 A-B/I-20 ID if there have been any substantive changes in your course of study or place of study.
  • Proof of your financial support.
When making your travel plans, please remember that you must be a full-time student to keep your F-1 student status. You will be considered to be "in status" if you take the annual summer vacation, as long as you are eligible and intend to register for the next school term.

Can I Get Authorization to Work in F-1 status?

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Under certain limited circumstances and conditions, you may be allowed to work on-campus or off-campus (after the completion of your first year of study). You may also be eligible for authorization to work after you complete your studies, for a limited period of time, which is known as "Practical training". Your accompanying spouse and child, however, may not accept employment.

Can an F-1 visa holder bring his or her Spouse and Children to the United States?

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Your spouse and children may come with you to the United States in F-2 status. The F-2 status of your family will be dependent upon your status as the F-1 academic student. This means that if you change your status, your family must change their status. If you lose your status, your family will also lose their status.

How Can I Extend My Stay as a Student in the United States under F-1 status?

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You do not need to apply to extend your stay in the United States as long as you are maintaining your student status and making normal progress toward completing your academic course of study. The designated school official (DSO) from your school will write down a completion date on your SEVIS Form I-20 A-B (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status - for Academic and Language Students). Under normal circumstances, you should be able to complete your studies by this date. If you need to extend your stay for compelling academic or medical reasons, then you should contact your designated school official (DSO).

How Do I start the process of applying for F-1 visa status?

You first must apply to study at a SEVIS approved school in the United States. When you contact a school that you are interested in attending, you should be told immediately if the school accepts foreign national students.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report on Foreign Students in the U.S.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), issued a report on Foreign Students in the United States: Policies and Legislation . Read the full PDF here (212KB).

Major Fields of Study for Foreign Students

How Long Can I Stay in the United States under F-1 status?

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You are allowed to stay in the United States for as long as you are enrolled as a full-time student in an educational program and making normal progress toward completing your course of study. If approved, you also will be allowed to stay in the country up to twelve additional months beyond the completion of your studies to pursue practical training. At the end of your studies or practical training, you will be given sixty days to prepare to leave the country.

Can I attend public school under F-1 status?

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If you wish to attend public high school (grades 9-12) in the United States in student (F-1) status, you must submit evidence that the local school district has been reimbursed in advance for the unsubsidized per capita cost of the education. Also, attendance at U.S. public high schools cannot exceed a total of 12 months. F-1 students are prohibited from attending public elementary schools and publicly-funded adult education programs in the United States.

A U.S. Department of State statement about this topic appears below.  

 


New Legal Requirements for F-1 Foreign Students in Public Schools

F-1 Visa: Academic & English Students

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The F-1 Visa is one of the most popular visas used by students. It is intended for individuals wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs. The F-1 category includes academic students in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, other academic institutions, and in language training.

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Search for H1B Visa Employers

You can search for "H1B Visa Employers" using this database, which was compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources. This database identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas in the past, or who have at least started the process by filing for the LCA. If you find an employer you are interested in, you can then contact them to inquire as to whether they have any current job openings in your field. Please tell your friends about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for H1B Visa employers.

"FMG Friendly" Employers

Foreign Medical Graduates ("FMGs") should be aware that there are "FMG Friendly" employers, and "FMG Unfriendly" employers. This database (compiled by Antao & Chuang, Attorneys at Law from government sources) identifies those U.S. employers who have filed for H-1B visas for foreign medical graduates in the past (or at least started the process by filing for the LCA), and who can therefore be deemed "FMG Friendly". Please tell your colleagues about this valuable resource.

Use this form to search for "FMG Friendly" employers in a given state.

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