There are several different types of visas that authorize students to live in the United States. While each visa authorizes a person to stay in the country for the purpose of attending an educational institution or pursuing vocational training, they have some important differences.
The most common type of student visa permits individuals to enroll in a school or an English language program. In order to obtain an F1 visa, a person must enroll in the minimum number of courses to attain full-time status. Each educational institution has its own definition of how many courses qualify as full-time.
An F1 visa allows a student to work on campus part-time. In general, part-time employment is 20 hours per week or less. Students may pursue practical training for up to one year after completing an academic program.
Individuals who want to come to the United States for practical training as part of their course of study should apply for a J1 visa. An application for this type of visa must include a visitor program sponsor.
Individuals who wish to attend a technical or vocational school need an M1 visa. They must demonstrate that they have sufficient funding to pay for educational and living expenses. This type of visa does not permit any type of employment while a person is in school.