F-1 Student Visa – Immigration Law
F-1 Student visas are non-immigrant visas reserved for individuals to pursue full-time studies at a US school or institution. They are issued by a US Consulate abroad, which has complete discretion in deciding whether or not to grant a visa. Foreign students who intend on obtaining an F-1 Student visa must plan to pursue full-time studies at a qualified university, college, seminary, conservatory, high school, private elementary, language program, or other academic program or institution. Carson & Kyung is a Sacramento immigration law firm that has assisted numerous F-1 students. Our Sacramento immigration lawyers can assist you in obtaining, reinstating, or changing your status to an F-1 Student visa.
What are the requirements for the F-1 Student visa?
An individual seeking to pursue full-time academic studies in a qualified program or institution can apply for an F-1 Student visa at a US Consulate abroad. In general, the individual must:
- Have no intention of abandoning her residence abroad;
- Be a bona fide student who is qualified to pursue and intends to pursue a full-course of study;
- Seek to enter temporarily solely to study at a qualifying academic institution; and,
- Study that the institution that was approved for the student per US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (“SEVIS”); and,
- Prove that she has the has sufficient financial support for her education in the US.
If I am here under the B-2 Visitor Visa for Pleasure or another nonimmigrant visa, can I change my nonimmigrant status to the F-1?
It depends on your circumstances. Most nonimmigrant visa holders are subject to restrictions on nonimmigrant intent, meaning, the person has a residence abroad, has no immediate intention of abandoning that residence, and intends to depart upon expiration of the individual’s nonimmigrant visa. Those on nonimmigrant visas that are not dual-intent, meaning they permit immigrant intent like the H-1B visa, must be very careful when applying. USCIS has the discretion to deny applications if they determine that the nonimmigrant visa holder has immigrant intent. A student may consider obtaining an SEVIS Form I-20 through a qualifying school during their stay here under another nonimmigrant status; however, the individual must be wary about taking any other steps, such as enrolling into school, as it will be detrimental to the individual’s case.
What do I do if I need an extension?
Generally, an extension is not needed for students who are maintaining lawful status and progressing regularly towards completing the requirements for his/her degree or academic study; however, a student who is unable to complete her study within the time stated on the SEVIS Form I-20 may obtain an extension must demonstrate an acceptable reason for said inability to complete studies. If the student is unable to apply for an extension before the termination date on her SEVIS Form I-20, the individual may attempt to apply for reinstatement.
How do I apply for a reinstatement of my F-1 Student status?
An individual who is out of status may consider applying to reinstate her F-1 Student status if the student:
- Is physically present in the US;
- Has not been out of status for more than 5 months, unless exceptional circumstances exist and the request was made as promptly as possible;
- Does not have a record of repeated or willful immigration violations;
- Is currently or intending on pursuing a full course of study;
- Has not engaged in unlawful employment;
- Is not otherwise deportable; and,
- The violation was due to circumstances beyond the individual’s control, OR was due to a reduction in course-load that could have been authorized and that failure to approve reinstatement would cause extreme hardship to the student.
If I have a spouse or child under the age of 21, are they eligible to come to the US with me?
A spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 qualify for F-2 status as a dependents of an F-1 Student visa holder; however, they must obtain their own SEVIS Form I-20 and are permitted to stay in the US as long as the principal F-1 Student visa holder’s status remains valid.
Our Sacramento immigration attorneys have represented and counseled many F-1 students in the Sacramento area and across the United States. Our Sacramento immigration lawyers can assist you if you have any questions or would like representation. Please do not hesitate to contact our immigration lawyers in Sacramento to discuss your case.
US Department of State on F-1 Student Visa: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/study-exchange/student.html
USCIS on F-1 Student Visa: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment