Do you wish to study in the United States? If your plan is to be a full-time student, congratulations! In order to study in the U.S. full-time, you’ll need to obtain a student visa. For students, there are two immigrant categories – F and M visas. In order for you to come to the U.S. in the F-1 or M-1 visa category, you will have to meet the following requirements set forth by the USCIS:
- You have to be enrolled in one of the following programs: a vocational program, an academic program, or a language-training program.
- The school you wish to attend must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP).
- You must be enrolled at the school full-time. You cannot be a part-time student.
- You must have enough funds to support yourself during the entire time you’ll be attending school.
- In your home country, you must maintain a residence, and you cannot intend to give up the residence.
F-1 Student Visa
With the F-1 Student Visa (Academic Student), you can come to the U.S. as a full-time student at an accredited elementary school, high school, college, university, seminary or conservatory. The program you enroll in must provide a certificate, diploma or degree, and the school must be authorized by the U.S. government to take students from foreign countries – it must accept international students.
M-1 Student Visa
The M-1 visa is for vocational students and students in nonacademic programs, excluding language training.
Can I Work While I’m a Student?
If you obtain an F-1 visa, you cannot work off-campus during your first academic year; however, you are allowed to work on-campus. After you have studied in the U.S. for one full academic year, you are free to engage in three types of off-campus employment: 1) Curricular Practical Training, 2) Optional Practical Training, and 3) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Optional Practical Training Extension.
M-1 students have more limitations. They can only participate in practical training after they have completed their studies. It’s important to note that F-1 and M-1 students can only engage in off-campus employment which is related to their field of study.