Student visas are nonimmigrant (temporary) visas that are granted to anyone who is accepted and enrolled as a full-time student at a college or university, primary or secondary school that has been approved for registration in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) .
Each college or university usually has its own Designated Student Officer (DSO) who advises and handles the immigration process for its foreign students. That person will tell the student what he or she needs in order to meet all of the immigration requirements to obtain a student visa.
Those requirements include acceptance for enrollment into the college or university on a full-time basis, proficiency in English and financial support sufficient to maintain the student during the course of study without the student’s having to work.
F-1 students are required to show that they will return to their home country at the end of their course of study. They are not allowed to be employed while in school except under limited circumstances.
Curricular Practical Training(CPT) allows the student to work at a job in the student’s field of study for a limited time during the school year. Optional Practical Training(OPT) is available to the student after completion of the degree for a period of one to three years, depending on the degree earned by the student.
Many college and university graduates who are employed through CPT and OPT after graduation can continue their employment by changing status to H-1B. This depends on an employer’s willingness to file the H-1B petition on behalf of the employee and to meet the other requirements of the H-1B program.
F-1 student visas are also available for primary(elementary) and secondary (high school) students. A foreign student can attend a public school , but he or she must pay tuition to the school and cannot attend a public school for more than one year. Enrollment in a private school is not limited. The same requirements apply: proficiency in English , full-time enrollment and financial support for the student during the course of study.
If you are interested in obtaining a student visa, the first thing to do is to find an institution and speak with the DSO or foreign student advisor. Once you have chosen a college or university, and understand the requirements, you must apply and be accepted for full-time enrollment. You may need to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Proof of financial support will also be required.
When all of the immigration requirements have been satisfied, the school, college or university will provide the student with form I-20. This form is required to obtain the student visa and allow entry to the United States on an F-1 student visa.
Student visas provide an opportunity to learn, live and work in the United States during years of study and can, in many cases, ultimately provide a path to permanent residence.