Student Visas

Student Visas

What is a Student Visa?

To come to the United States to study, you must apply for and receive a student visa. There are two types of student visas – one for academic study (F-1) and one for vocational study (M-1). Once your initial forms are submitted, you will be interviewed at a US Embassy near you. Both types provide options for your spouse and dependent children to receive visas to be in the U.S. with you during your studies (F-2 and M-2). There are different requirements for opportunities to work throughout your stay and options for extending your visa for training after your studies.

The Options You Have

M-1 – Vocational Student Visa

  • Must be enrolled at a vocational or other nonacademic institution

F-1 Academic Student Visa

  • Your program must result in a degree, diploma, or certificate
  • Must be enrolled at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program
  • Your program must be authorized by the government to accept international students

What you need

  • A valid passport
  • Photo
  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1 or M-1) Student Status from the institution you will attend
  • Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • $200 for the SEVIS fee and $160 for the application fee
  • Additional documentation on your previous education, ability to finance your education in the U.S., and your intent to return to your home country after your program may be required

Can I Work?

F-1 – Academic Student Visa

    • You can’t work off campus during your first year of school
    • You can work on campus in positions related to your area of study but must get approval prior to starting work
    • After your first year, you can work off campus in three areas:
      1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
      2. Optional Practical Training (OPT)
        You can get up to 12 months authorized employment before or after you complete your program
      3. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)
        You can apply for a up to 24 month extension to the Optional Practical Training if your degree and subsequent OPT were in a STEM field

M-1 – Vocational Student Visa

After your studies are completed, you may go into practical training.

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Ask Henry Lim
Have a question for Henry Lim? During 18 years of practicing law, he has helped more than 10,000 families move to the United States. You can Ask Henry a question at [email protected] or submit a question here.