An F-1 visa is issued to international students who are attending an academic program at a US college or university. F1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status. They can remain in the US up to 60 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete their studies unless they have applied and been approved to stay and work for a period of time under the OPT Program.
F-1 Visa: Academic Students
The student must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate, and the school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
The general criteria for an F-1 Visa include:
- Applicant must have a foreign residence with no intention of abandoning it;
- The applicant is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study;
- The applicant will study only at an institution designated by him and approved by in compliance with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (“SEVIS”);
- Applicant seeks to enter the U.S. temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing a course of study at an established institution of learning or other recognized place of study in the U.S.; and
- The applicant will not attend a public elementary school or
- publically funded adult education program, and will not attend a public secondary school unless he or she attends the secondary school for a period not in excess of 12 months and demonstrates that he or she has reimbursed the school board the full, unsubsidized per capita cost of the education.
F-2 Visa: Spouse or Child of F-1 Visa Holder
The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of an F-1 Visa holder are eligible for F-2 status and may stay in the US as long as the primary student remains in legal F-1 status. The spouse and unmarried children can apply for F-2 visas, and either accompany or follow to join the F-1 Visa holder in the U.S.
To apply for an F-2 visa, the F-1 Visa holder should contact his/her school’s international student office and request a new I-20 for the dependents. The F-1 Visa holder will likely be asked to provide documents to demonstrate the relationship, such as marriage certificates and birth certificates. The F-1 Visa holder will also need to show evidence of financial resources sufficient to support his/her family living in the U.S. This may include bank statements, pay stubs, affidavits of support, and family savings in his/her home country. After receiving a new I-20, the F-2 Visa application procedure becomes very similar to applying for an F-1 Visa. The spouse and unmarried children need to make a visa appointment at a U.S. embassy or consulate and bring to the interview all documents mentioned above, plus additional information to support their request for a NIV.
A spouse in F-2 status may not enroll in a full course of study or engage in any study toward a degree program. An F-2 spouse may, however, take classes that are vocational or recreational in nature, such as part-time study for the purpose of pursuing a hobby or interest. A child in F-2 status is allowed to attend K-12 schools (elementary, middle, or high school). However, to study full-time at the post-secondary level, the spouse or unmarried child must change his/her F-2 status to F-1, and may not attend school until the change of status request is approved by the USCIS. It should be noted that after turning 21, a child will lose his or her derivative F-2 visa status and must change to another nonimmigrant status in order to stay in the U.S.
Loss of F-1 Status and Unlawful Presence
If you violate the immigration regulations you may begin to accrue days of unlawful presence. 180 days of unlawful presence may result in a bar from reentering the US. Please contact the Law Office of Kameli & Associates for more information.