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Student Visa Attorneys

Helping Students Immigrate to the United States

Visas are very specifically tailored to the requirements and necessities of each individual. For instance, if a student is enrolled in an educational program or course that is under 18 hours a week, he or she only needs a visitor visa. If a student is completing over 18 hours a week, a student visa is mandatory for the stay within the country. Each consulate and embassy has its own rules and regulations when applying for a student visa, such as the interview policy procedure of an in-person meeting with the first-time student visa applicant in question. When attempting the student visa process, it is always a good idea to contact a Tampa immigration lawyer for sound legal guidance.

An individual applying for a student visa must meet the criteria, such as:

  • Full-time enrollment at the institution
  • Enrollment in an academic education program, rather than a program for vocational purposes
  • The institution being applied for must be accepted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Sufficient funds must be available for a self-support system throughout the entire duration of study
  • Maintenance of a residence abroad that will be kept throughout the duration of study
  • Proficiency in English, or to be enrolled in a program working toward English proficiency

The best method of applying for a student visa includes very early planning and action, as well as being prepared with all of the necessary documents. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that an applicant will receive his or her work visa, but preparation ensures a solid entry into the process.

Keep in mind that the summer months (June, July, and August) are the most hectic and congested times to apply in most consular sections. It is very likely that an interview is mandatory, and the difficulty to actually get a scheduled interview is high.

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.

Advantages

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

Flexibility
It permits students to change to other non-immigrant 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.

Dependents
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.

Requirements

Acceptance
Proof of acceptance for admission by an approved academic institution.

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

Non-immigrant Intent
Proof that student intends to depart the United States upon completion of study.

Limitations

Issuance
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 an 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.

Maintenance

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 another 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 another 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 the 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 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.

Knowledgeable Student Visa Attorneys in Tampa

The effort to pursue a student visa is a complicated process, requiring extensive documentation and related forms. Maney | Gordon | Zeller, P.A. is a firm dedicated to immigration law and has eight office locations. Our firm not only has numerous lawyers that are Certified Immigration and Nationality Law Specialists by the State Bar of Florida Board of Legal Specialization, but we are also AV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® and armed with over 100 combined years of legal experience.

Would you like to start the student visa process? Contact a student visa lawyer for excellent service. Office locations include Tampa, Orlando, AlbuquerqueEl Paso, and more. 

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