The optional practical training (OPT) program allows international students to remain in the U.S. for practical training that is directly related to their area of study. It is available to F-1 and M-1 visa holders for up to 12 months, with some extensions available. F-1 visa holders in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, for example, can apply for a 24-month extension.
When a foreign graduate of a U.S. college or university applies for a job, it is often through the H-1B visa program. For the most part, these visas allow high-skilled workers to work in the U.S. for a three-year period in specialty occupations where U.S. workers are scarce. (H-1Bs are also available for certain other reasons.)
The University of Farmington seemed like any American university. Its website said it offered both online and traditional instruction with a focus on working students. It claimed to be nationally accredited. Happy students were shown studying and sharing coffee. There was nothing suspicious about it from afar.
If you’re visiting the United States on an F-1, M-1 or J-1 visa, merely being accused of a crime could have serious consequences. Some programs expel people who are charged with crimes. If you are expelled, your program is required to report it to SEVIS within 21 days. Since you are required to be enrolled full-time in school or sponsored by a program, expulsion could result in revocation of your visa even if you are ultimately cleared of the crime.
The J-1 exchange visitor visa allows a wide variety of people to visit the U.S. on a temporary, non-immigrant basis, including:
For those wishing to study full-time at a U.S. academic program, there are two visas available: F and M. Both are nonimmigrant visas, and one of the requirements is that you maintain a residence in your home country that you have no intention of giving up. You must also be generally eligible for a U.S. visa.
The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the holder to work in the United States for three to six years. The visa is available for degreed workers in specialty occupations, certain Defense Department R&D workers and fashion models of distinguished ability.
Coming to the U.S. on a student or exchange visa comes with the responsibility to maintain your immigration status while you complete your program. You can violate your immigration status in several ways, but the primary ones include overstaying your visa, reducing your academic load below full time and exceeding your work authorization.
In August, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spoke at a Center for Immigration Studies event. The controversial think tank advocates for far less immigration being allowed in the U.S. At the event, the director said that a plan to end work authorizations for H-4 visa holders is still being worked on. Previously, the Department of Homeland Security had estimated it would stop offering the work authorizations in June.
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed eliminating the so-called "international entrepreneur rule," which allows foreign talent to build new businesses in the U.S.