US Student Visa Categories
F-1 Visa- The most common student visa for the students traveling to the US for higher studies. If you wish to get your academics in the US at an approved school at an accredited college or university, private secondary section schools, or English language program then you need to hold the F-1 Visa. In case if your course of study has more than 18 hours of study per week then you need to have an F-1 visa.
M-1 Visa – If you want to get into the non-academic, vocational study, or training at the Us Institution you need to hold an M-1 Visa.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) – Students holding F-1 visas are eligible for up to 12 months of optional practical training once they complete all course requirements for graduation (thesis not included). OPT is different from the student’s academic work, and the time for it will not be reflected in the student’s academic program or the complete study date. Student’s intending to do OPT needs to submit an I-20 with the original end of the study date that can be passed.
I-20 needs to be annotated by the designated school officials to reflect in the approval of the OPT program which continues after the end of the regular study. In addition to these, the student must hold proof that USCIS has approved a practical training program or an application is pending either through the approved Employment Authorization Card or Form I-797 which indicates that the student has a pending application for OPT program.
The validity of Visa after the break-in studies – Students who do not attend classes for more than 5 months can apply for new F-1 or M-1 student visa to return to school following your travel abroad as mentioned below:
- Students with the US – Student belonging to F-1 or M-1 category may lose their status if they are unable to resume the studies within 5 months of the date of transferring school or program under immigration law. In case a student loses the status, unless being mentioned otherwise by USCIS and reinstates the student’s status, and F or M visa will stand invalid for future travel to returning to the US.
- Students returning to the US from traveling abroad – Students who take the break from the studies and leave the US for 5 months or more may lose their F-1 or M-1 visa status unless their abroad activities are concerning their course of study. Students need to check in advance with their designated school officials whether their activity is related to the course of the study. When the returning student from abroad for more than 5 months at the airport presents an unexpired F-1 or M-1 visa at the customs & border protection (CBP) immigration inspector at the port of entry, a CBP inspector may find the student inadmissible for not holding a valid non-immigration visa. CBP can cancel the visa even after granting permission to the student to withdraw the application for admission. Hence, the student will have to apply for a new visa at the Embassy or Consulate General of the United States of America before traveling to the States for their studies after the absence of more than five years.
The US. Public Schools – The US doesn’t allow foreign citizens to attend public elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade), publicly funded adult education program. Hence F-1 visas cannot be issued to these students to study at such schools.
An F-1 visa can be issued for the students to study at a public secondary school (9 to 12 grades), but the student can study for a maximum of 12 months at these schools. The school must mention on Form I-20 that the student has paid the unsubsidized cost of the education and that amount is for that purpose only.
A, E, F-2, G, H-4, J-2, L-2, M-2 visa holders or other derivative non-immigration visa holders can get admitted to public elementary & secondary schools.