Student Visas (F-1 and J-1)

F-1 Visa Holders

Most of all international student in the United States are admitted with a F-1 visa. If a prospective student planning to attend school for more than 18 hours a week, he or she will need a student visa. F-1 visa is a temporary visa for those intending to pursue academic studies or language training programs. In most countries, first time F-1 visa applicants are required to appear for an in-person interview at the U.S. consulate. Please remember that each U.S. consulate is different and requires different procedures.

In general, a prospective international student will need to meet the following requirements:

  1. The school or educational institution must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
  2. The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the school;
  3. The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;
  4. The student must have proof of sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study;
  5. The student must maintain a residence abroad which he or she intends to keep
  6. The student must be enrolled in an academic education program, not a vocational-type program;

If a person is intending to apply for a student visa, he or she can apply for his or her spouse and children (F-2 visas). The spouse and children are not required to apply at the same time as the intending student, but it is recommended the whole family applies at the same time.

If you are looking for affordable immigration attorneys to examine your student visa eligibility call us today at 405.600.9910. Free consultation available.

J-1 Visa Holders

J-1 visas are often classified as exchange visitors coming to the United States as part of a Exchange Visitor Program administered by the U.S. Department of State. There are many different categories that J-1 visa holders can enter the United States; including but not limited to, college or university students, secondary school students (master's program), professors and research scholars, trainees, physician, government visitor and foreign medical graduates. As such, a J-1 visa holder may not necessarily always be a student and may allow the J-1 visa holder to work to a certain extent.

The biggest drawback for J-1 visas is that certain J-1 visa holders may be subject to the "two-year bar." The "two-year" bar requires certain individuals to return to their home country for at least two (2) years after the completion of his or her J-1 status. However, please note that even if a person is subject to the two-year bar, there are waivers available to the bar. The waivers include (1) "No Objection" letter from the home country's government; (2) Threat of Persecution if he or she returns to their home country; (3) Interested Government Agency Request ("IGA") if an agency of the U.S. government finds he or she is a crucial person to the agency; (4) Hardship if he or she returns to their home country; and (5) Designated State Health Agency Request for Physicians only who are serving full-time in an area with a shortage of medical professionals.

Options for F-1 and J-1 Visa Holders after their Visa Expires

Like most other non-immigrant (temporary) visa holders, student visa holders are eligible to change his or her status to another non-immigrant visa, such as, a H-1B employment visa for professional workers. Further, student visa holders are eligible to apply for Permanent Resident Status through Family-Based or Employment-Based petitions; such as, applying for a green card if he or she marries a U.S. citizen. Please keep in mind that J-1 visa holders who are subject to a two-year bar will be required to file for a waiver of the bar.

F-1 visa holders should know they are entitled to Post-Completion Practical Training ("OPT") for one (1) year from graduation plus 60 days. If you currently in OPT status, please do not leave the United States as the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers may not let you back in to the United States when attempting to re-enter.

Most schools, colleges and universities provide free assistance in applying for student visas, so please check with the officials with the school in helping you apply for a student visa. The school will most likely provide you with all the necessary forms and documentation that you will need. However, should problems arise in applying for a student visa or exercising your options after your student visa expires, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at (405) 600-9910.