Navigating the student visa among the vast sea of American visas with the immigration offices on your own is like sailing your ship in deep waters without a ship captain. There are as many types of visas depending on each situation as there are alphabets. Each visa type has its own sets of requirements, permissions and timeline. The educational visas are divided into three common categories which can then further be divided according to each situation:
F Student Visa: for study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English at an English language institute
J Exchange Visa: for participation in an exchange program, including high school and university study
M Student Visa: for non-academic or vocational study or training in the United States
Many students aspire to study in the US to get the best quality education in their fields of study. Most of them want to stay and work in the US to get hands on exposure to the practical skills in their fields of study.
Whatever visa type students go for, it is imperative that they make sure they have accreditation for their university or college degree. As an international student, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure that they get admission in an accredited institution by the US government’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program, SEVP under the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Only the accredited institutions by SEVP can enroll students under the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), an online monitoring system used by the US Department of Homeland Security, DHS that enables the students to apply for and secure a US visa for study.
Once the students have gone through the above process, they can easily get through the process of applying for visa, provided that they meet the official requirements. During this period the students are entitled to the F-1 student visa, that is the most common choice among non-immigrant students because certain schools allow F-1 student visa holder to work part-time while attending classes or obtain OPT (Optional Practical Training) upon graduation. Certain students, who were previously granted OPT and are currently in a valid period of OPT, could qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.
If you need assistance in determining your eligibility for a student visa or for OPT/STEM OPT extension, preparing the documents or filing the visa application you can contact me for a free consultation.