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Understanding student visas - II

Last week, we started discussing more about the F-1 visa and M-1 visa, the two primary immigration documents that enable young people to pursue their academic dreams here in the U.S.

To recap, the former permits entrance as a full-time academic student enrolled in any accredited academic institution in pursuit of a degree, while the latter permits entrance as a full-time vocational student.

We'll continue our discussion in today's post, examining the baseline requirements that must be satisfied in order to secure either one of these student visas and the employment opportunities that may be pursued by the holder of either.

In order to be considered eligible for an F-1 visa or M-1 visa, an applicant must satisfy the following conditions:

  • They must be registered in an "academic" educational program, language-training program or vocational program.
  • The institution at which they will be enrolled must have secured the necessary approval from the Student and Exchange Visitors Program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Their enrollment must be on a full-time basis.
  • They must have sufficient funds for self-support available for the entirety of their proposed study period.
  • They must be proficient in English or taking courses designed to accomplish this objective.
  • They must maintain a foreign residence, which they do not intend to surrender

As far as employment is concerned, F-1 visa holders can only accept on-campus employment (subject to certain conditions) during their first academic year. Thereafter, they may accept only three types of off-campus employment: curricular practical training, optional practical training, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics optional practical training.

M-1 visa holders, on the other hand, can only engage in practical training upon completion of their studies.

Furthermore, it's important to understand that both types of student visa holders can only take off-campus employment so long as it's related to their field of study, and, prior authorization is secured from both U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the school officials who oversee the student visitor program.

As you can see from the foregoing conversation, the securing of a student visa can prove to be a complex topic. Indeed, interested parties should seriously consider consulting with an experienced legal professional who can answer their questions and guide them through the process

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