What is an F-1 visa?
A: An F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a US
Consulate to an alien student who is pursuing full-time studies in a US academic
Q: What is an F-1 status?
A: An F-1 status is a non-immigrant status issued by the USCIS to
the alien student who is pursuing studies in the US.
Q: Who is handling my case
if I retain Z&A?
A: Our attorneys handle their clients' cases individually by preparing
petition letters, contacting clients, and following up pending
cases. That's why we have more attorneys than clerks. Our clerks'
main objective is to help attorneys prepare clients' packages,
and each client's package will be reviewed by one of our most
experienced attorneys for final checking before sending out the
package to the USCIS.
Q: Who is eligible to apply for an F-1 visa?
A: An alien who is going to be
a full-time academic student in a college, university, seminar, conservatory,
private academic high school, other academic institution, or language training
program in the U.S. may apply for an F-1 visa with a U.S. consulate abroad.
Q: How do I apply for an F-1 Visa?
A: Please follow these steps:
admitted by a school which is approved by the USCIS;
2. Obtaining a Certificate
of Eligibility (Form I-20 A-B) from the school where you will enroll; and
3. Submitting the Certificate of Eligibility, along with the nonimmigrant visa
application form and supporting documentation to a U.S. consulate as part of the
U.S. visa application procedure.
4. Moreover, the prospective student must
be able to demonstrate to the consular official that he has sufficient means of
financial support to cover his expenses throughout his academic program and show
Q: How long
can an alien student study in the U.S. under F-1 status?
A: In contrast to
most other non-immigrants who receive a specific period of time to remain in the
U.S., an alien student who obtains an F-1 status is allowed to remain in the U.S.
for the duration of status. Duration of status signifies that he is considered
to be in valid status during enrollment in his academic program, plus any periods
of authorized practical training and the 60 days grace period, which is afforded
to an F-1 holder to provide an opportunity to depart from the U.S.
Q: I am an F-1 student. May I enroll in part time study?
A: No. You must be
enrolled in a full course of study. However, you may enroll in part time study
in the summer term.
Q: How do
I maintain my valid F-1 status?
A: You must be enrolled in an academic program
as full time study. Enrollment in an elementary school, academic high school,
university or college, conservatory, seminary, or language training program will
qualify as enrollment in an academic program.
Q: What are the steps I must take if I am changing from one academic program to
another at the same school?
1. You should obtain a new Form I-20 for
a new academic program;
2. You should complete the student portions of Form
I-20 and submit it to the foreign student advisor within 15 days of starting a
new academic program;
3. The foreign student advisor returns the 'student
copy' pages (pages 3 & 4) of Form I-20 to you; and
4. You endorse page
1 of Form I-20.
Q: What are the
steps if an F-1 student wants to transfer to another school?
student needs to obtain a new Form I-20 from the school that the student intends
2. The student needs to notify informally the foreign student
advisor at the current school of the intent to transfer schools;
enrolling in the new school during the first term after leaving the former school,
the student has to complete the student portions of the Form I-20 and submit it,
along with his current I-20 ID copy, to the foreign student advisor at the new
school. This has to be done within 15 days after classes have begun at the new
4. Once the student has completed these steps, the foreign student
advisor at the new school will endorse the student"s copy of I-20 and give
it to the student. This will serve as the student's new Form I-20 copy. Thereafter,
the foreign student advisor at the new school prepares and submits I-20 (pages
1 & 2) to the USCIS within 30 days of receiving it and sends copies of pages
1 & 2 of Form I-20 to the foreign student advisor at the student"s previous
Q: If an alien student
is out of status, how can he reinstate his status?
A: In order to request
a reinstatement of his F-1 status in this situation, the following items must
be submitted to the USCIS:
1. Form I-539 (with notation, in red ink, on the
top right hand portion of the form indicating that it is being filed for reinstatement
2. Form I-20;
3. Form I-94 (for student and each family member);
4. Supporting statement; and
5. Filing fee.
supporting statement must explain the following:
1. The violation of F-1
status was solely due to circumstances beyond the control of the student or, alternatively,
that a failure to reinstate would cause extreme hardship to the student;
2. The student will pursue (or is pursuing) a full course of study;
student has not been engaged in any unauthorized employment; and
4. The student
is not in removal or deportation hearings.
Q: What should I do if I failed to finish my Academic Program within the time
that was anticipated?
A: If you fail to complete an academic program within
the anticipated time as indicated on the student's I-20, you are considered out
of status unless you apply for and is granted permission from your foreign student
advisor to take additional time in order to finish your academic program. You
must make the request for additional time 30 days prior to your completion date,
as indicated on your Form I-20. A grace period of up to one year in duration can
be added for completion of the program.
Q: In addition to my application, what documents will I need to change to F-1
status from another nonimmigrant status in the U.S.?
A: You can change to
F-1 status by submitting the following documents to the USCIS:
1. Form I-20
(School copy and student copy);
2. A copy of your Passport;
3. A copy
of all your I-94s;
4. Evidence of financial support (Affidavit of support,
bank letter, scholarship offer, teaching or research assistantship, etc.);
5. Filing fee; and
6. Showing that your studies and your stay in the US is
Q: I am in B-1
status. May I get an F-1 status?
A: Yes, you may apply to change your B-1
status to F-1 status if you receive an I-20 form from a school in the United States.
However, you need to prove that you did not intend to study in the United States
when you obtained your B-1 visa. If you are admitted as, or change your status
to, a B-1 nonimmigrant, or entended your B-1 status, on or after April 12, 2002,
you cannot enroll in a course of study or take other actions inconsistent with
B-1 status unless and until the USCIS has approved your request of change to an
Q: If I graduate from
my current school and I hold an F-1 status, do I have a grace period to legally
stay in the US?
A: Yes, you still have 60 days grace period to legally stay
in the US. In the meantime, you can apply for optional practical training(OPT).
Q: I am now in the middle of the 60
days grace period and I get a job offer from an American employer. I don't want
to apply for OPT, can I apply for H-1B instead?
A: No. During the 60 days,
you can apply for OPT, but you cannot apply to change to another nonimmigrant
Q: If my OPT expired, do I have
a grace period to legally stay in the US?
A: Yes, you have 60 days to legally
stay in the US, but the 60 days is for packing and leaving. Therefore, you cannot
change to another nonimmigrant status within the 60 days.
Q: Can I change from H-1 status to F-1 status?
A: Yes, if you get a Form I-20
from a school.
Q: My B-1 status
expired. May I change to F-1 status now?
A: No, you cannot change to F-1 status.
You were out of status when your B-1 status expired.
I am in practical training period now. If my employer lays me off, may I use my
OPT to seek another job?
A: Yes, you can seek another job. In the OPT period,
you may work for any employer in the US.
I am in F-1 status and I am not using my practical training. May I apply for an
A: A practical training period is not the prerequisite for H-1B.
If you satisfy the requirements for H-1B, you may get an H-1B status.
Where can I pick up USCIS forms?
A: You can download all the USCIS forms from
our website for free. To download the forms, please click here. Alternatively,
you should be able to get immigration-related forms from your designated school
Q: I am in F-1
status. May I travel outside the US?
A: Yes, you may travel outside the US
when you are in F-1 status. However, when you return to the US, you should provide
the following documents:
1. A valid passport;
2. A valid F-1 entry visa
stamped in the passport;
3. A current USCIS Form I-20 ID signed by your appropriate
4. A new USCIS Form I-20 A-B/I-20 ID if there have been any
substantive changes in your course of study or place of study; and
of your financial support.
I am in F-1 status. Am I allowed to work on-campus?
A: Yes, you are allowed
to work on-campus, but the on-campus employment cannot displace US residents and
should be part of a fellowship, scholarship, assistantship, or postdoctoral research
appointment. Also, you are limited to 20 hours of work a week.
I am in F-2 status. Am I allowed to work either on-campus or off-campus?
No, you may not legally work in the US without USCIS authorization.
How may I extend my stay as a student in the US?
A: You are not required to
apply for an extension of stay as long as you are maintaining your status and
making normal progress toward completing your course of study. If you need to
extend your stay for compelling academic or medical reasons, you and the DSO should
fill out USCIS Form I-538 and send it to the USCIS student data center at least 30
days before the completion date listed on I-20 A-B.
What is optional practical training(OPT)?
A: The OPT is an authorization of
temporary employment for F-1 students. The evidence of OPT is usually the Employment
Authorization Document (EAD). Please click here for more information about EAD.
Q: Who is eligible for practical
A: An F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time
basis in a Service-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for
at least nine consecutive months.
When may I apply for optional practical training?
A: You may apply for employment
authorization from the USCIS up to 120 days before the start of employment and up
to 60 days following completion of studies.
I am in F-1 status and studying in an English language training program. Am I
eligible for practical training?
A: No, you are ineligible for practical training.
Q: I am in practical training
period. May I accept employment which is NOT related to my major area of study?
A: Practical training is granted only for employment related to the major area
of study. Although as a practical matter, there is no limitation specified on
Q: I am in B-2 status.
May I change my status from B-2 to F-1?
A: If you get a Form I-20 from a school,
you may apply to change your status from B-2 status to F-1 status. However, the
USCIS will not grant the change of status if they believe you came to U.S. with
the intention to study at the time you applied for the B-2 visa. If you are admitted
as, or change your status to, a B-1 nonimmigrant, or entended your B-1 status,
on or after April 12, 2002, you cannot enroll in a course of study or take other
actions inconsistent with B-1 status unless and until the USCIS has approved your
request of change to an F-1 status.
I am in practical training period now. May my employer lay me off?
if the employment is employment at will, which is true in most cases.
My OPT is about to expire and my employer submits the H-1B petition for me before
my OPT expires, but before the H-1B is approved, my OPT expires, am I legally
staying in the US?
A: Yes, you are legally staying in the US, but you cannot
legally work in the US until your H-1B application is approved. Please click here
for more information about H-1B.
When must I complete my practical training?
A: You must complete all of your
practical training within a 14 months period following the completion of your
Q: I am an F-1 student.
How long do I have to study before I am eligible for OPT?
A: You need to have
been in F-1 status for a minimum of 9 months to receive permission to engage in
Q: What is curricular practical
A: A curricular practical training is a program authorized by the
DSO for an F-1 student to engage in off-campus employment as required by the work/study
program in which the student is enrolled.
If I transfer to another school, is my curricular practical training still valid?
A: No, authorization to engage in a curricular practical training employment is
automatically terminated when you transfer to another school.
I am in J-1 status. May I change my status from J-1 to F-1?
A: If you are
subject to the two-year home country residence restriction, you may not change
status to F-1 in the US. However, you may apply for an F-1 visa through a third
country visa. Please click here for more information about third country visa.
If you are NOT subject to the two-year home country residence restriction, you
may change status to F-1. Please click here for more information about J-1.
Q: I wish to attend a summer program
held by a university in the U.S. May I apply for an F-1 visa?
A: If this university
is an USCIS-approved academic institution and can issue Form I-20, you may apply
for an F-1 visa with the nearest US consulate in your country.
I would like to attend an English training program in a U.S. school to improve
my English prior to enrolling in a college. May I apply for a F-1 visa at the
A: Yes, you may, if the school hosting the English training
program is an USCIS-approved school and can issue Form I-20 to you.
How may I get an I-20 from a U.S. university at which I am interested in studying?
A: You first must be admitted by that university. You also have to prove that
you at least have sufficient financial resources to support you in the first academic
year for the tuition, living expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses, such
as books and transportation. Usually the brochure of this university will tell
you these minimum expenses. If you satisfy these two criteria, you may get the
Form I-20 from the foreign student advisor of this university.
What documents will I need to apply for an F-1 visa?
A: The documents you
need to apply for an F-1 visa usually are:
1. Form OF-156 (non-immigrant
2. Passport of the applicant;
3. Two recent passport
4. Visa application fee;
5. All I-94s you obtained
since the last time you came to the U.S. (if available);
6. A letter of admission
from the school that you plan to attend;
7. An I-20 from the school that
you plan to attend;
8. Documentation showing financial resources; and
9. If you have been attending a university or college, all transcripts for the
semesters you attended the school and a letter stating you are a student in good
Q: I would like to attend
a U.S. high school, may I get an F-1 visa?
A: Nowadays, U.S. public high schools
are prohibited from issuing Form I-20 to alien students. However, you may attend
a private high school if this school is an USCIS-approved academic institution and
can issue an I-20 to you.
I am going to attend a vocational school in the U.S. to study cooking. May I apply
for an F-1 visa?
A: No, you may not apply for an F-1 visa. Instead, you must
apply for an M-1 visa.
For more information
on F-1, please click on the following links:
Application for an F-1 Visa
Obtaining an F-1 Status at the port of entry
Change into F-1 Status in the U.S.
Eligibility for change into F-1
Status in the U.S.
Maintaining F-1 Status
Transfer of School
Transfer of Major
Time limitation of F-1 Status
Extension of F-1 Status
F-1 Status reinstatement
Employment in F-1 Status where
explicit USCIS approval is not necessary
Employment in F-1 Status where
explicit USCIS approval is necessary
Optional Practical Training(OPT)
Travel abroad in F-1 Status
Change from F-1 Status to H-1B
Change from F-1 Status to immigrant
F-2 Visa and Status
Frequently Asked Questions about F-1
Attorney and filing fees
The Impact of I-140 Filing on