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The F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for those wishing to study in the U.S. It is one of the primary types of student visas available for international students. Here are some key aspects about the F-1 visa:
- Purpose: It is specifically for students attending an academic program or English Language Program in the U.S.
- SEVIS: Before applying for an F-1 visa, students must first be accepted by a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). After being accepted, the student will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. The school will then provide the student with a Form I-20 to present to the consular officer during the visa interview.
- Duration: The F-1 visa allows students to stay in the U.S. for the duration of their academic program plus 60 days.
- On-Campus Employment: F-1 students are generally allowed to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during the school term, and can work full-time during breaks.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): This is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with an F-1 status can work for one year on a student visa towards getting practical training to complement their education. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students might be eligible to extend the OPT period by 24 months, for a total of 36 months.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): This allows students to take on employment as an integral part of their curriculum, including internships, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum.
- Maintenance of Status: To maintain F-1 status, students must be enrolled full-time, make progress towards completing their study program, and not accept unauthorized employment.
- Visa Interview: After receiving the I-20 form, students need to apply for the F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. This typically involves filling out the DS-160 form online, paying the visa application fee, and scheduling a visa interview.
- Dependents: The spouse and children under the age of 21 of an F-1 student can enter the U.S. on an F-2 visa. While they cannot work in the U.S., children can attend school.
- Transfers: Students can transfer from one school to another or change programs by following specific procedures and updating their SEVIS record.
If you’re considering studying in the U.S., it’s essential to understand all the requirements and guidelines associated with the F-1 visa. It’s also beneficial to consult with the international student office of the U.S. institution you’re interested in attending or a reputable immigration attorney.