F-1 Student Visas
Foreign students who have been accepted by INS approved schools, colleges or universities in the U.S. may be eligible to receive F-1 Student Visas. As a precondition to receiving an F-1 Visa, prospective students must first obtain a Form I -20 from the accepting school. The I-20 will serve as verification to the INS that the student has been accepted by the school for admission.
Students must also prove to the INS that they have enough money and/or financial support to pay for their living expenses and tuition during their course of study. Usually, it is sufficient for the student to show that money is available to pay for the first year of study, and then that additional funds are or will be made available thereafter. Proof of financial ability can be made by providing the INS with an Affidavit of Support, signed by an immediate family member, which serves as reassurance that money is and will be available. Other financial records, such as bank statements, account passbooks, bank letters, certificates of deposit, and tax returns may also serve as proof of support.
Once an F-1 Student Visa is obtained, the validity period is generally “D/S”, or duration of status, which means that it will be valid for as long as the student maintains the terms and conditions of his/her student visa. Generally, this means maintaining a full course load of academic studies (at least 12 hours per semester) each and every semester at the approved school, and only breaking during holidays or recess periods. An F-1 student who wishes to transfer or change schools must obtain a Form I-20 from the new school and must obtain permission from the INS in order to maintain status.
With regards to employment, F-1 Students are generally only permitted to work up to 20 hours a week during the school year. During vacations, however, F-1 Students may work full time, provided that they intend to register and continue with school the following term. The scope of this employment is limited in that it must be “on-campus” employment or employment at an off-campus site which is in some way affiliated with the school. Where an F-1 student experiences unforeseen circumstances which create economic problems, permission may be obtained from the INS to work at any job.
If you have any questions regarding F-1 Student Visas, contact South Florida Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel at (954) 385-3111.