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student visas

Obtaining Student Visas to Study in the U.S.

Obtaining Student Visas to Study in the U.S.Obtaining University and Technical Degrees from U.S. institutions can be very beneficial, often leading to better job opportunities abroad and even lucrative employment in the U.S. following graduation With years of experience in obtaining Student Visas, Pedersen Law will take care of the entire Visa process from start to finish, including providing legal advice regarding Student Visas, employment and post-degree strategies, obtaining USCIS approval and providing guidance every step along the way…

Student visas are available to foreign nationals who wish to study in the U.S. and can be applied for both in the U.S. and at U.S. Consulates abroad.

When applying for a Student Visa inside the U.S., you must be in legal status, with an “unexpired” I-94 and request a change from “Tourist” status to that of either an F-1 or M-1 (student) status.

Common Types of Student Visas

F-1 Student Visas are available for international students pursuing a full-time an academic course of study, such as an Associates, Bachelor, Master’s or P.H.D. Degree. M-1 Student Visas are for students who are pursuing a full-time course of study at an established vocational school or other nonacademic school.

Required Study

F-1 Students must pursue full-time study, which is generally defined as at least 12 semester hours of instruction per academic term, except in cases where the student requires fewer hours to complete the course of study. For or M-1 students in vocational and nonacademic programs, a full course of study usually consists of at least 18 hours of study per week if classroom instruction is the dominant part of the course, or 22 hours of study per week if the dominant part of the course is in the laboratory or workshop.

Obtaining Student Visas to Study in the U.S.

Duration of Student Visas

Both F-1 and M-1 students are admitted to the U.S. for a period called “Duration of Status”, designated as “D/S”, providing for student status to continue for the duration of the students completion of the course of study. They are also given 30 days grace period in which to depart following completion of the course.

Dependants of Students

Spouses and children of international students who are under age 21 are issued dependent student visas, designated as F-2 or M-2 and may accompany the F-1 or M-1 student to the U.S. to live while the student completes his or her course of study. Generally, these dependents may not be employed in the U.S., but may attend school either as part-time or full-time students.

Extensions of Student Visas

Once a student has completed a course of study, it is possible to pursue higher studies or change fields by obtaining an extension of the student visa.

Work Authorization

Generally, international students are not allowed to work without USCIS authorization. F-1 students are only allowed to work under specific circumstances. On-campus employment is permitted up to 20 hours per week, while, off-campus employment is limited to internship or other work study programs that may be required for a specific degree. F-1 students are also eligible to work under “Optional Practical Training” (called OPT) regulations which allow students to work off campus in their field of study for one full year either during their studies or after graduation. Student in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields are also eligible to apply for an additional 17 months of OPT (for a total of 29 months) as long as their employer qualifies by having registered under the new “e-verify” system.

M-1 students are not authorized to accept on or off campus employment. They are, however, allowed to participate in OPT following the completion of their course of study. The period of practical training is determined by authorizing one month of training for each four-month period of study, however, the practical training is not to exceed six months.

For both F-1 and M-1 work authorization A request for practical training must be submitted no more than 60 days before the completion of studies, and no later than 30 days after completion.

Post Graduation Work: The H-1B Work Visa and Residency Process

Generally after graduation with at least a Bachelor’s degree and during an F-1 student’s OPT employment, his or her employer can apply for the student to work in the U.S. for up to six years on an H-1B work visa. In order to obtain residency, the employer can further sponsor the foreign national for an immigrant visa through a process called “Labor Certification” (PERM).

We Can Help You Make Your Immigration Dreams Come True! - Applying For the Student Visa

After obtaining the I-20 from your school, our Firm will register you with the U.S. Government’s Sevis website and file your F-1 Student Visa application with the USCIS. It typically takes between 30 to 60 days for the USCIS to approve the change of status to F-1 Student Visa status, so it is best to begin the process immediately after the first 60 days. Individuals changing from Tourist B-1/B-2 visas to F-1 status may not begin their studies until a change of status has been approved by USCIS. For more information about Student and other visas, call or email our office to schedule an Attorney Consultation so that we can fully review your circumstances and give you the best, most honest advice concerning what steps you can take to obtain your desired immigration status. We look forward to meeting you and helping you to achieve your immigration dreams!

Find out how Pedersen Law can make your Immigration dreams come true! Your Success Is Our Greatest Reward – see you soon...

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