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This category of non-immigrant visas is designed for international students to study in US academic institutions. An F-1 visa applicant must establish in order to obtain an F-1 visa are the following :
- Evidence of strong family and home ties in the foreign country with intent to depart from the United States and return to his/her residence after completion of the educational program.
- Evidence that s/he possesses the skill level, ability or credentials to qualify her/him for the intended course of study in the U.S.
- Evidence that the school selected and which has offered admission for the full course of study is approved by the Attorney General.
- Should not apply for a public elementary school or a publicly funded adult education program. The candidate may attend a public secondary school in limited circumstances as long as the funds for the program come from outside sources and the duration of attendance is less then 1 year.
- Should be proficient in English or is receiving training to become proficient unless the school can explain why English language is not important.
- Evidence of sufficient funding or that other financial arrangements have been made to attend school and live in the U.S. during the course of the program.
An F-1 visa may be issued by the Consul within 60 days of a school term. When entering the United States the candidate will receive an arrival / departure card (I-94) indicating F or student status and will be marked that it is valid with the notation of "D/S." "D/S" stands for "duration of status" and permits the student to remain in the United States until the completion of the educational program. This can include completing an academic program and moving on to a higher academic program such as a Bachelors degree to a Masters degree, as long as the transfer is documented properly with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
A student may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions.
Employment While Maintaining the Academic Student Status:
On-Campus Employment: During the student's first academic year, the only employment that may be accepted is on-campus employment.
Off-Campus Employment in General: Off-campus employment requires a full time student to have completed at least one academic year of study before being eligible to apply. A student who is on an Academic Student Visa (F-1) may obtain permission to work in four circumstances:
Curricular Practical Training,
Optional Practical Training,
Unforeseen Economic Hardship, and
Internship with an International Organization.
Students wishing to obtain either curricular or optional practical training must obtain employment that is related to the student's course of study, and the position must be explicitly for the purpose of practical training. This training cannot include English language training.
Family of an F-1 Holder: The immediate family of an F-1 holder may accompany or "follow to join" the student on dependent F-2 status, if the student is or will be enrolled in a full course of study or participating in an approved practical training program within 60 days. If the student is a minor, his/her parents may attempt to enter on a B-2 visitors visa and seek and obtain extensions as long as they can demonstrate their intent to return, i.e. not remain permanently in the U.S. Practically speaking, it may be difficult to obtain the B-2 visa for this purpose.