The F-1 Student visa is issued to individuals who wish to come to the U.S. to participate in an educational program. Public elementary schools do not qualify as an educational program which can be attended by the F-1 applicant. Please note that the F-1 applicant must be accepted by the prospective educational program prior to applying for the F-1 visa.
In order to be eligible to apply for an F-1 visa, the following conditions must be present:
- The individual intends to stay in the U.S. for a specified period of time and plans to return to their home country upon completion of their studies in the U.S.
- The applicant must be able to document possession of monetary savings to cover their expenses while in the U.S. Alternatively, they must be able to provide documentation / evidence as to the means by which their expenses will be covered while in the U.S.
- The individual must be able to provide significant documentation pertaining to their economic and social ties to their home country, thus evidencing their nonimmigrant intent.
Immigration officials at the U.S. port of entry will grant the F-1 visa holder a “Duration of Status” authorized stay in the U.S. which enables the individual to remain in the U.S. until the end of their program of studies. The individual will have an additional 60 day grace period at the end of their course of study.
At the end of their studies, the F-1 visa holder is eligible to apply for a 12 months Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) in a field relevant to their field of education. OPT entitlement is 29 months for F-1 students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics ("STEM" fields) who are employed by businesses enrolled in the E-Verify program. This employment authorization will be extended until October 1 under “Cap Gap” regulations if the individual applies for an H-1B visa during the quota period prior to the expiration of their OPT authorization. Under this regulation and if the individual request a Change of Status, the individual will remain in F-1 OPT status until their H-1B visa is valid on October 1. If the OPT expires before the H-1B application is filed but the student is still in his/her 60 day grace period, student's F-1 status will be extended but this extension does not apply to work authorization.
Spouse and children of the F-1 visa holder are eligible to join the individual to the U.S. under the F-2 visa category.