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F-1 Academic Student visa

Assistance with F-1 Immigration Visas

The F-1 student visa allows foreign nationals to enter the United States for the purpose of pursuing a full-time course of academic study at an approved school, college, or university.


Students may live in the United States while pursuing an approved full-time course of study.

It permits students to change to other nonimmigrant or immigrant classifications as eligibility arises.

Work Experience
If allows qualified students to participate in postgraduate practical training, work experience, or curricular practical training programs.

It allows students to work 20 hours per week in qualified on-campus employment.

If the student's spouse and/or minor children accompany him/her, they will be admitted on F-2 status. If they intend to later join the student they will be issued an F-2 visa if it can be established that the student is, or will be, within 60 days enrolled in a full course of study, or is engaged in approved practical training. Also the individual seeking F-2 status has to prove he/she has sufficient funds to cover his/her expenses and that he/she intends to and is willing to depart when the student's status ends.


Proof of acceptance for admission by an approved academic institution.

Proof of financial support sufficient to allow student to reside and study in the United States without working.

Nonimmigrant Intent
Proof that student intends to depart the United States upon completion of study.


Depending upon the economic circumstances of the student's home country, Consular officers abroad may be reluctant to issue student visas for fear the student will not return abroad upon the completion of studies.

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is often reluctant to change the classification of a tourist to that of academic student should it appear that the tourist had the intent to study in the United States at the time of entry as a tourist.

Consular officers abroad and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services officers may deny requests for student visas where:

  • It appears there is insufficient financial support to allow the student to meet living and school expenses without seeking work.
  • There is little or no relationship between the student's course of study opportunities in the home country.
  • There are insufficient ties to the home country to compel the student to return upon the completion of studies.


Students must properly maintain their student visa status at all times. Maintaining F-1 visa status includes:

Maintaining a "full course of study" at all times. The term "full course of study" is defined according to the level of academic study at which the student is enrolled as:

  • Postgraduate study or postdoctoral study or research at a college or university, or undergraduate or postgraduate study at a conservatory or religious seminary, certified by a designated school official as a full course of study.
  • Undergraduate study at a college or university, certified by a designated school official to consist of at least 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term, except when the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the current term.
  • Study for at least 12 hours weekly, or its equivalent, in a postsecondary language, liberal arts, fine arts, or other nonvocational program at a school that confers associate or other degrees or whose credits are accepted unconditionally by at least three institutions of higher learning.
  • Study in any other language, liberal arts, fine arts, or other nonvocational training program, certified by a designated school official to consist of at least 18 hours of classroom attendance a week if the dominant feature of the course is classroom attendance, and 22 hours weekly if the dominant feature is laboratory work.
  • Study in a primary or secondary school for not less than the minimum number of hours prescribed by the school for normal progress towards graduation.

Other maintenance criteria include

  • Satisfactorily passing minimum course work each academic term.
  • Not accepting unauthorized employment at any time.
  • Not violating local, state or federal laws.
  • Receiving permission of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services before changing academic institutions.
  • Receiving permission of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services before pursuing a new level of academic study.
  • Paying required tuition to the approved academic institution for course of study.
  • Departing the United States or seeking a new visa classification upon the completion of study and/or any period of practical training.

The student F-1 visa is typically issued for "duration of status" which allows the student to continue in his/her studies as long as it meets the above requirements. Should the student fail to meet the requirements, he/she must seek to be reinstated to valid F-1 status.

If you have questions about F-1 visas, contact our immigration lawyers for a consultation.

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