A student work visa is a non-immigrant visa. It gives international students the opportunity to attend school and work in the United States without giving up their status as foreigners. There may be some minor exceptions, but typically anyone who has the intention to stay in the U.S. to study must obtain an immigrant visa. In most cases, as a student seeking only to study and work in the U.S. on a temporary basis, you should work toward qualifying for the non-immigrant visa, also called an F1 (F2 is for dependents).

Acquiring student work visas allows one to enter the United States as a full-time student at various institutions. Eligible organizations include accredited colleges, language training programs, or another qualified academic institution. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program must approve the school to which you’ve applied.

Once accepted to the school, you’ll pay a one-time application fee. If your application qualifies as being in good standing, you will move forward in the process. The next step is to schedule an interview with your U.S. embassy or consulate, which receives the F-1 or M-1 Visa.

What Types of Student Work Visas Exist?

You have to get a student visa if your post-secondary education plans include coming to the U.S. from another country. Two different types of non-immigrant student visas exist: the M-1 and the F-1. There is very little difference between the two visas. The primary differences include:

•The F-1 Student Visa permits entrance into the U.S. for students to attend specified educational institutes or language training programs. This only includes full-time students. Your chosen educational institute must offer a diploma, degree, or certificate for you to be eligible. Also, the United States Government must authorize your school to accept students from other nations.

•On the other hand, the M-1 Student Visa is not for academic programs. It is for students who want to pursue non-academic or vocational training. Unlike with the F-1 visa, M-1 visa holders can only reduce how many credits they take if there are medical issues prompting their request. This reduction can only happen for a maximum of six months.

•Another difference is that F1 visa holders may transfer schools if they wish. M-1 students are typically only able to transfer schools within the first six months of their program.

Applying for a Student Work Visa: Requirements

The off-campus employment must relate to the student’s area of study. In most cases, you’re not able to participate in any off-campus employment until you’ve completed a full year of school. The I-20 is proof of your work eligibility for employment on your campus.

Having an F-1 student status means you may work on-campus at the university that issued your I-20. There are four permitted types of employment off-campus:

1. CPT – Curricular Practical Training

2. OPT – Optional Practical Training (pre-completion or post-completion)

3. STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

4. OPTE – Optional Practical Training Extension

The F-1 and M-1 visas require candidates to possess a particular list of criteria. Applying for the visa is a simple process but can be time-consuming. The following points set the standard for an acceptable employment application:

•You must be currently enrolled full-time in an academic program. The program could be a language learning center or a university.

•You must be proficient in the English language.

•You must be self-sufficient in terms of monetary support. Having a reliable means of funds is crucial to your continued stay in the F-1 Visa program.

•You must possess a home abroad with the intention of returning when you complete your studies.

Talking to a Lawyer about a Student Work Visa

Acceptance into the F-1 Visa Program is one thing, but maintaining eligibility is another. In each case, regardless of the person or place of employment, the individual must file a petition with Immigration Services. In most immigration employment situations, it is necessary for the employer to offer a position that is long-term rather than short-term. It’s possible even to make the employment permanent if the employer and employee follow specific procedures.

Self-sponsorship is also an option, but you will need to meet specific qualifications. A person may also visit the U.S. for a short time with the right type of visa or if the individual qualifies for the Visa Waiver Program.

At Lee & Peynado Law, we’re here to provide effective representation and support as you move forward in the complex process. Our experienced attorneys supply you with the guidance you need to ensure you follow the process correctly through every step.

We work with each client to create strategies tailored specifically to individual needs. Our lawyers at Lee & Peynado Law represent immigration employment applicants from the beginning to the very end of each case.

Need help in the process to get the right student work visa for your situation? Call (404) 892-8300 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team at Lee & Peynado Law today.