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Student Visas

International Student Visas

An international student wishing to study in the United States must posses an F Visa. The F status is a nonimmigrant category specifically designed for international students who wish to study at a US institution. Learn how to qualify, apply and obtain an F Visa.

If you are looking to study in the US as a foreign citizen, please browse through the links to the right for more information or contact our office so that we may help you through the process.

F-1 Foreign Student Visas

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, other academic institution, or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate, and your school must be authorized by the US government to accept international students.

CPT/OPT

F-1 students may not work off-campus during their first academic year but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. There are various programs available for F-1 students who wish to seek off-campus employment after the first academic year. F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment after they have studied for at least one academic year. These three types of employment are:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)

Any off-campus employment must be related to the student’s area of study, and the employment must be authorized by the Designated School Official (the person authorized to maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System – SEVIS) and USCIS.

Under the ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (ICE SEVP) OPT policy guidance, a student on post-completion OPT may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern, as long as no labor laws are being violated, for at least 20 hours per week, once s/he is able to provide employer confirmation of the same. Students who are authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have an I-20 endorsed for OPT and provide a USCIS-issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD). When authorized, Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to the eligible F-1 student’s area of study.

STEM (OPT Extension)

F-1 Students who have received their bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in certain Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for a 17-month extension of their OPT bringing their total work time to 29 months. The result of filing for a STEM OPT is the issuance of a new Employment Authorization Document Card valid for the 17 month extension. STEM OPT may not be split into smaller periods and can only be granted within one EAD card. The 17-month STEM extension is only granted once regardless of additional degrees awarded or level of degrees. STEM extension EAD card begins the day after the expiration of the initial 12 month EAD card and ends 17 months later. It is possible, however, to change employers during the 17 months as long as the new employment meet STEM requirements. If extension application is denied, student will still have the 60 day grace after expiration of the 12-month EAD card.

In order to Qualify for STEM, the Former F-1 Student must currently be on post-completion 12-month OPT. The applicant has to verify that they have completed a degree on the STEM list. The job placement may be paid or unpaid, at least 20 hours per week and relate directly to the applicant's field of study and appropriate to degree level obtained. In addition the employer must be registered with the U.S. Government e-verify employment verification system and agrees to report any termination of employment within 48 hours to OIS.