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Students (F1 & M1)

Eligibility :

F-1 status is granted to individuals coming to the United States to engage in academic studies. The alien must be coming to pursue a full course of study and have sufficient funds to pay the tuition and support yourself while in the United States.

Application process :

The individual must be accepted to a qualifying school, authorized by the INS to accept foreign students and then obtain the appropriate I-20 from the school.

To apply at the consulate the prospective student must submit the appropriate forms and documents to the consular officer:

  • Form DS 156, DS 157 (if applicable) and DS-158 applications
  • A valid passport
  • Form I-20 from the qualifying school
  • Notarized Affidavit of Support from financial sponsor with accompanying documents

Duration of Visa :

The F-1 visa is issued to the student by the consulate for the expected period of study and can be a multiple entry visa. Upon arrival in the US, the alien is issued an I-94 card which should be stamped with a departure date of "duration of status". This means that the F-1 student will be allowed to remain in the U.S. for the period of time it takes to complete the allowed course of study as stated on the I-20 form. Any changes in schools or course of study needs to be approved by the INS for status to be maintained.

Dependents :

The spouse and minor unmarried children of the F-1 visa holders are eligible for F-2 dependent status. They may be issued the F-2 for the same period of stay as the principal. The F-2 dependents may not work in the United States but are permitted to attend school.

Employment :

Employment may be authorized for F-1 student holders in the following limited circumstances:

  • On Campus Employment :An F-1 student may be employed on campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the normal school year and full time when school is not in session, without obtaining permission from the INS. The student is required to obtain a letter from the foreign student advisor at the school or another designated school official stating that the student is authorized to perform on campus work.
  • Off Campus Employment : A student who has completed one full academic year and is in good academic standing may be authorized to work up to 20 hours of work per week during school and full time when school is not in session by obtaining a written authorization from the foreign student advisor or other designated officials at the school on the I-20 or by obtaining permission from the INS due to extraordinary circumstances (such as death of a family member providing support, unforeseen economic changes, etc.)
  • Curricular Practical Training :Work-study programs, internships, cooperative education programs offered in conjunction with school credit are considered to be curricular practical training. The qualify the student must have been in valid F-1 status for 9 months and is obtained by endorsement of the school official or foreign student advisor on the I-20 form. Work authorization is not required from the INS.
  • Post Graduation or Pre Graduation Practical Training: Work study programs are available to a student who has been in good standing attending a full time course of study for at least 9 months of study. The student is permitted up to one-year total of work for the entire period of study in the United States, even if multiple courses of study are undertaken. Only a total of 1 year of practical training is allowed. The authorization is granted upon application to the appropriate INS Service Center upon completion of form I-765 and submission of the form, together with the I-20 form bearing the recommendation of the school official and payment of the filing fee (currently $100). The work authorization may be applied for at any time but within at least 60 days after graduation.
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