You may have heard recently about a Palestinian student who was denied entry to the U.S. when he came to join his freshman class at Harvard. It wasn't for something he had done. Customs officials scanned his phone and objected to certain social media postings the student's friends had made. The man's dreams of a Harvard education were dashed because his friends made objectionable comments.
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.
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.
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.
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.