F-1 Student Visa Attorney in San Jose, CA, Providing Committed Immigration Services for International Students
There are two types of student visas available to international students who are pursuing education in the USA. Students enrolled in academic studies or language-training programs may file for an F-1 Visa. Similarly, students enrolled in non-academic or vocational study programs may be eligible for an M-1 Student Visa.
In order to qualify for either of these visas, an applicant must demonstrate the following:
- Foreign Residence: An applicant must have a foreign residence and be able to show intent to return there upon completion of their full course of study.
- Financial Support: An applicant must demonstrate sufficient financial support and have sufficient funds to live in the country and study at a U.S. university.
- Full-time Enrollment at an Approved School: An applicant must be enrolled full-time in an academic educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program at an established school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP). They may only study at the academic institution through which the visa or status is granted. Proof of enrollment at an accredited school is provided via a Form I-20 that is issued by the schools.
- English Proficiency: An applicant must be proficient in the English language or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency
- Duration of Stay: A student entering the U.S. on an M-1 or F-1 student visa will be admitted for the duration of their course of study, which means they may stay as long as they remain a full-time student studying at an approved college or university.
- Dependent Visa: M-2 and F-2 visas are available for dependents (spouse and/or children) of an M-1 or F-1 student to accompany them to the USA. A dependent child can attend full-time elementary or secondary school. A dependent spouse is not permitted to work, however.
- Employment: International students on an M-1 or F-1 student visa are allowed to work, but there are strict guidelines that must be followed.
Does an M-1 Student Visa for a Vocational Program Allow the Student an Opportunity to Work in the United States?
Students with M-1 nonimmigrant status may only accept employment if it is part of a practical training program after completion of their course of study. The student must receive an EAD before working and may only work for a maximum of six months of practical training.
The EAD establishes the student’s identity and work authorization. The employer should complete a form I-9 like it would for any other type of employment. If presented with an EAD, the employer should record the Alien Registration Number, card number, and expiration date under List A in Section 2 of Form I-9.
What Types of Work Can a Student with F-1 Status Perform?
With an F-1 student visa, a student may hold down a job in an attempt to help pay for living expenses. However, as the F-1 is a nonimmigrant visa, their job opportunities are limited.
On-Campus Job Opportunities:
Students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but they may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. Working on campus does not require approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but the following conditions must be adhered to:
- The student must maintain valid F-1 status.
- Foreign students may not displace (take the job away from) U.S. students.
- The student may work up to 20 hours a week or full-time during holidays and a vacation period.
Off-Campus Job Opportunities:
There are several types of off-campus employment options available to foreign nationals looking to study in the United States. In general, a student must be enrolled for at least one academic year before he or she is eligible to apply for off-campus work authorization. Furthermore, he or she must get authorization from the International School Office, and if all requirements for the specific type of off-campus employment are met, the student must also apply for a work permit from USCIS.
The following are the types of off-campus employment options available:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CTP is an off-campus work option for international students when a job offers practical training that is an essential part of the student’s academic degree program. To qualify, the work experience must help the student earn academic credit or fulfill graduation requirements. The student must have received a job offer that qualifies before submitting a request for work authorization, and the job offer must be related to their major or field of study. Even though there is no specific limit on how long one can work on CPT, if a student works full time on CPT for 12 months or more, that student would no longer be eligible for Optional Practical Training.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion): OPT is an off-campus employment option in which the work experience does not need to be a part of the student’s academic program but must still be directly related to the student’s major. The total duration of OPT is 12 months unless a student is eligible for the STEM extension. Each student is eligible for 12 months of full-time OPT per academic level (for example, he/she may apply for OPT after completing a bachelor’s program and then another full-time OPT after completing a master’s program). Unlike CPT, a job offer is not necessary before applying for OPT authorization. A student may either petition for OPT authorization during the course of their studies (pre-completion OPT) or after they have already completed their degree (post-completion OPT). Because current students usually have alternate options for work during their studies, such as CPT, it is more common to save OPT until after a program’s completion.
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT): Students who graduate with a degree in STEM and are in an approved post-completion OPT period based on a designated STEM degree may apply for additional 17-month STEM extensions of their post-completion OPT.
In Times of Economic Hardship, Does Immigration Law Allow F-1 Visa Holders to Look for Off-Campus Work?
Off-campus employment may be allowed in cases of severe economic hardship or in emergent circumstances as defined by regulation. The student must prove unexpected circumstances have created severe economic hardship.
These circumstances may include the following:
- Loss of financial aid due to no fault of the student.
- Loss of on-campus employment if it is not the student’s fault and no other on-campus job is available
- A significant increase in tuition or costs of living.
- A substantial decrease in the relative value of the currency that the student depends upon to pay expenses.
- Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s sources of financial support.
- Unexpectedly large medical bills.
- Other substantial, unexpected expenses.
Additionally, the student must be unable to obtain on-campus employment, or the pay available from on-campus employment is insufficient to meet the student’s financial needs.
Contact an Immigration Lawyer at Our Law Firm to Schedule a Consultation
If you or someone you know is interested in coming to the U.S. to pursue educational studies, our immigration lawyer is here to offer a case evaluation.
Immigration laws can be complex and confusing, with many forms to fill out and submit. Our law firm has extensive experience providing helpful legal services to clients from around the world who want to come to the United States to study at the educational institution of their choice. Our student visa lawyer will assist you through the entire process, including your in-person interview and the exchange of confidential or sensitive information with the school official or consular officer overseeing the immigration service arrangements. In the instance that your wish to go to university abroad is denied, your attorney will provide evidence in an attempt to change your situation for the better.
Yew Immigration Law Group has law offices based in San Jose. However, our law firm has provided professional legal services to clients across California, including the following localities: Oakland, Sunnyvale, Beverly Hills, Santa Ana, Van Nuys, Berkeley, San Diego County, Orange County, Santa Clara County, Los Angeles County, and Alameda County.
F-1 student visa lawyers can provide assistance to foreign students looking to study in America’s universities. At Yew Immigration Law Group, you can put your trust into the attorney-client relationship with an immigration lawyer who has over two decades of experience in matters of the immigration process, including the student visa interview, customs enforcement, and marriage to a U.S. citizen or a person with lawful permanent residence. In instances where foreign students wish to obtain United States citizenship, your attorney can be helpful in providing several options for those who intend to change status, petition for a green card, and pursue other means of legal immigration.
Contact our firm to schedule an appointment with a member of our legal team. You can reach our San Jose law offices by phone at (408) 645-6395.