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Foreign individuals wishing to study at a United States-based college or university may gain authorization to live and work in the US during their course of study by obtaining the F-1 student non-immigrant visa.  Generally, in order to obtain this visa, a US-based accredited educational institution must file a petition with the USCIS to indicate their sponsorship of a prospective student for the visa.   

 F-1 status is available to individuals attending an accredited education institution for a “full-time” course of education, or at least 20 hours per week of study.  Various other requirements may apply on a case-by-case basis related to the beneficiary’s background and/or the US institution.

The F-1 visa is a temporary visa that grants lawful resident status to its holders only for the term of the visa.  It does not entitle its holder to permanent resident status in the United States.  The F-1 student visa is normally issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the student’s home country, and may be extended under certain circumstances.

 Traveling on F-1 Student Visa:

  • Foreign students may enter the United States multiple times if they hold a valid F-1 Student Visa.
  • It is important that the F-1 Student Visa holders have all the necessary documents and signed authorizations to avoid any problems at the U.S. port of entry.
  • The passport must also be valid for a certain amount of time in order to be granted entry.
  • F-1 Visa holders can also travel freely within the within the United States.

Working on F-1 Student Visa:

  • Students may work on campus as long as they are enrolled in school.
  • Students may apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) to gain work experience in their field of study while being a full time student.
  • Students may take advantage of Optional Practical Training (OPT) once the degree is completed as a full time employee.
  • Many students obtaining a bachelor or master's degree in the United States go on to be sponsored by their employer for an H-1B Work Visa.