Students from foreign countries who would like to pursue their education from elementary school to doctoral studies may be admitted into the United States in F-1 Visa Category. It is meant for students who would like to engage in academic studies in the United States. INA section 101(a)(15(F). It is important to note that student in academic programs can also be admitted to the United States in the J Visa Category for exchange visitors, if the school sponsors exchange visitor program recognized by the U.S. Department of State. However, some students admitted under J visa category have a major disadvantage that he or she will be required to return to his or her home country for two years before being permitted to return to the United States permanently or temporarily to work in any non-immigrant category, if the program is funded in whole or in part by the student’s government or the U.S. government.
Students who are entered into the United States under F-1 are allowed to remain in the United States for the Duration of the Status. Duration of Status means that a student remains in valid status during enrollment in any number of academic programs for e.g., high school followed by College and college followed by master’s degree, and any periods of authorized practical training and a 60 day grace period to depart from the United States.
It is important to note that once student has failed to register as full time student with certain exceptions to pursue his academic studies, he is considered to be out of status, and he will only be able to readmitted to the school only upon request of reinstatement of status to the USCIS. Reinstatement requires that the student show that the violation of status was due to circumstances beyond the student’s control or that the student would suffer “extreme hardship” if he or she is not reinstated. Hence, in order to be in valid F-1 Status, Student must be enrolled in full course of study, and not in part time studies although certain exceptions exists for certain border commuter students. Also, students in F-1 status must demonstrate that they sufficient means of support to cover them through their full academic program, and they are only permitted to work part time for twenty hours only in the campus where he is pursuing his studies. Authorization to work because of financial need is granted to students in only most limited circumstances.
F-1 Student will not start accruing unlawful presence in the United States, although he is out of status till the Court or any other designated authority declares such F-1 Student as out of status as he is admitted for Duration of Status.
F-1 Student does not need any advance permission to study in the United States from the USCIS. F-1 Student should obtain Form I-20 from the academic institution at which he or she will enroll for classes and submit this certificate along with non-immigrant visa application and supporting documentation to the US Consulate abroad as evidence of eligibility to apply for an F-1 non-immigrant visa. If the student is in the United States and any other non-immigrant status, and would like to pursue his academic studies under F-1 Status must file Form I-539, application to change status as F-1 student along with supporting documentation with the USCIS that has jurisdiction over the place he resides.
Family members of the F-1 Student may enter into the United States under F-2 Status. Eligible family members include the spouse, and minor children of the F-1 Student. Incase, F-1 Student is minor, his or her parents are eligible members to enter the United States under F-2 status. The F-2 spouse may not engage in full time study and engage in any employment in the United States. F-2 child may only engage in full time study if the child is in elementary or secondary school.