Student Visas

In order to attend school in the United States on needs to obtain a student visa. This visa is considered a nonimmigrant visa because it is assumed that the individual with the visa is going to be in the US for a limited period of time with no intent to immigrate to the United States. If you need assistance with a student visa, call SD Immigration Lawyers today for a free consultation.

The most common type of student visa is an F-1 Visa. An F-1 Visa is a student visa that is dedicated to full-time students studying in US Universities or Colleges. This visa is generally prepared by the school you are applying to you are sent a copy before you enter the US.

In order to be accepted into the US on this visa there are certain things that are required:

You need to be able to show proof of funds

Proof of funds can be shown by a parent/spouse or yourself but they need to be shown to a significant amount and that number needs to be reflected on your I-94 form that the school has provided. The US immigration department looks for whether or not you have the funds to not only pay for school but to cover your living expenses for the entire time you are in the US.

You need to maintain a residence in your home country

The US government wants to make sure that your residence in your home country is your residence and you have no intention on giving it up.

You must be proficient in the English language

This requirement can be shown by giving your transcripts if you went to an English speaking school before you applied to college of by taking a TOFL test on English proficiency and providing the results to the educational institution.

Employment on an F-1 Visa

Common employment on an F-1 Visa would include OPT and CPT. CPT is to be used when someone is still in school and OPT is to be used when one has just finished school.

CPT for short is Curricular Practical Training. This type of employment is when you are still in school. CPT has to be done involving something that goes towards your career and your educational institution can help with this process. One key thing to know is that your time is limited on CPT and OPT. It is technically limited to one year. If you go on CPT for an entire year then you can not do OPT but if you do CPT for less than a year then you have the option to do OPT for the entire year.

OPT is also known as Optional Practical Training. This can be done for 1 year after you graduate. OPT is a great opportunity because unlike a TN visa which requires you to work for only one employer, with an F-1 OPT visa you can work for any employer, multiple employers or even open up your own business for that one year.

What to do after OPT is completed

When your OPT is completed you have a couple options. One option is to return to your home country, the other would be to get another visa and continue your stay in the United States. Common transitional visas at this point would be a TN Visa or an H1-B Visa.

M-1 Visa

Often our clients ask us questions like “what if I want to go to a trade school or a vocational school, can I still go to school on a visa?” The answer is yes. An M-1 Visa is a visa that is used for vocational school, trade schools or any other recognized nonacademic institution. Examples could be auto technical schools, or a school that provides certain trades like an elevator mechanic or a refrigeration mechanic. In California there are also diving schools and other vocational programs as well.

J-1 Visa

J-1 Visa can also be classified as a student visa when used in the right context. Often schools has “study abroad” programs or exchange student programs. A J-1 Visa would be the visa that needs to be obtained if one were to enter into this program and do this program while studying in the US.


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