Immigration News Update
© 2001-2013 Law Office of Bobby C. Chung, P.C. All rights reserved.
F1 VISA / M1 VISA /
To consult an immigration lawyer regarding the F1 or M1 Student Visa,
please call us at (626) 642-8066 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An attorney in our office would be happy to assist you.
The F1 visa is a student visa that enables foreign nationals to study
in the US at accredited academic institutions. In some cases, F1 students
may work while enrolled in school. Prior to or upon graduation, the student
may engage in practical training for up to 12 months.
If you are going to the US primarily for tourism, but want to take a short
course of study of less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do
so on a tourist visa. You should inquire at the appropriate US Embassy
or Consulate. If your course of study is more than 18 hours a week, you
will need an F1 or M1 student visa.
In most countries, first time student visa applicants are required to
appear for an in-person interview. However, each embassy and consulate
sets its own interview policies and procedures regarding student visas.
Students should contact the American Embassy or Consulate for specific
Keep in mind that June, July, and August are the busiest months in most
consular sections, and interview appointments are the most difficult to
get during that period. Students need to plan ahead to avoid having to
make repeat visits to the Embassy. To the extent possible, students should
bring the documents suggested below, as well as any other documents that
might help establish their ties to the local community.
Changes introduced shortly after September 11, 2001 involve extensive
and ongoing review of visa issuing practices as they relate to our national
security. It is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your
travel departure date.
When Do I Need to Apply
for My Student Visa?
Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample
time for visa processing. Students may apply for their visa as soon as
they are prepared to do so.
The consular officer may need to get special clearances depending on the
course of study and nationality of the student. This can take some additional
Students should note that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your
student visa 90 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration
date. If you apply for your visa more than 90 days prior to your start
date or registration date as provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or
Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa.
Consular officials will use that extra time to accomplish any of the necessary
special clearances or other processes that may be required.
Students are advised of the law, which requires that all initial or beginning
students enter the US 30 days or less in advance of the course of study
start date as shown on the Form I-20. Please consider this date carefully
when making travel plans to the US.
A student who wants to enter the US more than 30 days before course start
date must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa. A prospective student
notation will be shown on his or her visitor visa and the traveler will
need to make the intent to study clear to the US Immigration Inspector
at Port of Entry (POE). Before beginning any studies, he or she must apply
for a change of nonimmigrant status, and also submit the required Form
I-20 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly Immigration
and Naturalization Service) office where the application is made. Please
be aware that one may not begin studies until the change of nonimmigrant
status is approved.
What is Needed to Apply
for a Student Visa?
It is important to remember that applying early and providing the requested
documents does not guarantee that the student will receive a visa. Also,
because each student's personal and academic situation is different, two
students applying for same visa may be asked different questions and be
required to submit different documents. For that reason, the guidelines
that follow are general and can be abridged or expanded by consular officers
overseas, depending on each student's situation.
All applicants for a student visa must provide:
- A Form I-20 obtained from a U.S. college, school or university. Be sure
to provide all four pages of the I-20 form. The form must also be signed
by the applicant and by a school official in the appropriate places;
- Form DS160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application submitted online. A separate
application forms are needed accompanying spouse and unmarried children
under age 21;
- Proof of payment of SEVIS fee.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity
date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay
in the United States;
- One photograph 2 inches square (50x50mm) for each applicant, showing
full face, without head covering, against a light background;
- A receipt for visa processing fee. A receipt showing payment of the
visa application fee for each applicant, including each child listed in
a parent's passport who is also applying for a U.S. visa, is needed;
IMPORTANT: Each American Embassy and Consulate has different visa application
procedures and requirements. You should contact the consulate or an immigration
attorney for information regarding the local rules.
All applicants should be prepared to provide:
- Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;
- Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution
such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.;
- Financial evidence that shows the applicant or applicant's parents who
are sponsoring applicant have sufficient funds to cover the tuition and
living expenses during the period of intended study. For example, if the
applicant or applicant's sponsor is a salaried employee, present income
tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If applicant
or his or her sponsor own a business, present business registration, licenses,
etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.
Applicants with dependents must also provide:
- Proof of the student's relationship to his or her spouse and/or children
(e.g., marriage and birth certificates.)
- It is preferred that families apply for F1 and F2 visas at the same
time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later
time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder's passport and
visa, along with all other required documents.
How Long May I Stay
on My Student Visa?
When the applicant enters the United States on a student visa, he or she
will usually be admitted for the duration of student status. That means
the applicant may stay as long as he or she is a full time student, even
if the F1 visa in the passport expires while in the US. For a student
who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized
practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time
in the US before departure:
- F1 student - An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the
US or to transfer to another school.
- M1 student - An additional 30 days to depart the US (Fixed time period,
in total not to exceed one year). The 30 days to prepare for departure
is permitted as long as the student maintained a full course of study
and maintained status. An M student may receive extensions up to three
years for the total program.
As an example regarding duration of status, if the student has a visa
that is valid for five years that will expire on January 1, 2001, and
the student is admitted into the US for the duration of his studies (often
abbreviated in your passport or on the I-94 card as "D/S"), he may stay
in the US as long as he is a full time student. Even if January 1, 2001
passes and his visa expires while in America, he will still be in legal
student status. However, if he departs the US with an expired visa, he
will need to obtain a new one before being able to return to America and
resume his studies. A student visa cannot be renewed or re-issued in the
United States; it must be done at an Embassy or Consulate abroad.
There are certain restrictions on attending public school in the US. Persons
who violate these restrictions may not receive another visa for a period
of five years.
The restrictions apply only to students holding F1 visas. They do not
apply to students attending public school on derivative visas, such as
F2, J2 or H4 visas. The restrictions also do not apply to students attending
private schools on F1 visas.
The restrictions are:
- Students who attend public high schools in the US are limited to 12
months of study. Public school attendance in the US prior to November
30, 1996 does not count toward this limit.
- F1 visas can no longer be issued to attend public elementary or middle
schools (Kindergarten to 8th grade) or publicly-funded adult education
- Before an F1 visa for a public school can be issued, the student must
show that the public school in the US has been reimbursed for the full,
unsubsidized per capita cost of the education as calculated by the school.
Reimbursement may be indicated on the I-20. Consular officers may request
copies of canceled checks and/or receipts confirming the payment as needed.
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