Applicants for a student visa have to meet the following criteria:
- no intention of giving up their permanent residence abroad
- will pursue a full-time courses as a student
- is entering the US to temporarily and to only seek completion of their studies
- is in possession of a valid I-20 issued by a USCIS certified institution of education
- has adequate financial means for tuition, room and board
- applicant has fluency or competency in the English language or seeks to receive training in the English as a second language
Q. What is a full-course of study?
A. Most post-graduate studies are considered full-courseloads. For undergraduate college or university programs, 12 semester or quarter hours are generally considered full-time status. Enrollment with other post-secondary courses at local junior colleges and other non-vocational institutions like fine arts schools can also be considered full coursework.
Q. What is the procedure if I am outside the US?
A. An applicant who is in their home country must present themselves for an in-person interview at the Consulate abroad. You must provide all applicable documentation of your admission to a full course of study by an acceptable US institution as well as the approved and valid I-20 documentation issued by the Designated Student Officer (DSO) from your campus.
Q. Can I change status to F-1 if I am already in the US?
A. Yes, you can apply for a change of status on USCIS Form I-539.
Q. How long can I remain a student on F-1 status?
A. Students are generally admitted for the duration of their status, commonly notated on the I-94 record of entry as "D/S," meaning that all students are allowed to stay in the US on F-1 status so they can complete their course of study plus 60 additional days after completion of the education program.
Q. What is practical training?
A. Practical Training or Optional Practical Training ("OPT") normally given to F-1 student upon successful completion of their studies and allows the student to pursue a maximum of 12 months of employment in the US so long as it is related to the course of study. Students who complete majors within the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) are eligible to for an extended period of OPT of no more than 18 months.