Student FAQs - Maintaining Student Status

You should remember that as an international student you can work only on campus and only for 20 hours a week. If you break these laws you will be out of status. If by any chance you have violated your status, but you still have a valid multiple entry F-1 Visa, then you can restore it by making a short trip overseas such as the Bahamas, Mexico and Canada which are all close by and then re-enter the USA. While on the subject, it is good to know that F-1 visas are only entry documents. Even if your visa has expired, you can continue to stay in the USA and study, legally, until the validity date on your I-20. Do not waste your practical training period. All F-1 students are allowed to work off-campus for one year if in the preceding year they have maintained their status as F-1 students. If you do not take up a job as soon as you graduate, and you have already used up your practical training period, you will either have to go back or violate your status.

Students FAQs

When do I need to apply for my student Visa?
Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample time for visa processing. Students may apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to do so.

How long does it take?
Embassies and consultants are able to issue your student visa in 90 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date.

When should I enter US after I get the visa?
You should be aware of the Department of Homeland Security regulation which requires that all initial or beginning students enter the US 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start/report date as shows on the Form I-2-. If you want to enter the US still in advance i.e. more than 30 days prior to the course commencement, you must obtain a visitor visa.

What is needed to apply for a Student Visa?
All applicants should be prepared to provide:

  • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended;
  • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT etc.;
  • Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study.
The basic requirements are:
  • The student must have completed the course of study required of all students entering the program;
  • Be proficient in English;
  • Proof of sufficient, easily transferable funds to cover cost of living and tuition.
  • The school must provide the student with a Form I-20 A/B.
Required documents while applying for the visa:
  • Non-refundable application fee.
  • Form DS-156, completed and signed;
  • Form DS-157 Supplemental nonimmigrant visa application (to be submitted by all male applicants between the ages 16 and 45)
  • Form DS-158.
  • Passport validity of at least six months beyond end of intended stay;
  • One photograph of 2x2" ;
  • Form I-20 A-B (form school)
  • Evidence of sufficient funds;
  • Supporting documents satisfying the consulate that the student intends to leave US after completion of studies.

How long may I stay on my F-1 Student Visa?
When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status as a full time student. You could get an additional 60 days on F-1 visa to prepare departure from the US or transfer to another school. You could get 30 days on M-1 visa.
One could stay for 12 more months under CPT or OPT (Optional Practical Training)

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

This option is designed to give the foreign student an opportunity to further their education by gaining practical experience. It is usually available after the successful completion of academic program. The job must be related to their field of study, and the authorization to work is for 12 months only, whether it is obtained during school or after graduation. OPT must be completed within 14 months of the student's completion of the academic program.

Curricular Practical Training(CPT)

CPT is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type or required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.
An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a CPT program that is an integral part of an established curriculum.
Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion academic training. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are made for students enrolled in graduation studies that require immediate participation in Curricular Practical Training. A student can start his CPT only after receiving his Form I-20 with the DSO endorsement.
This can be processed either under Non-SEVIS process or under SEVIS process.
Participation in a CPT is a good opportunity for F-1 students to gain work experience and find potential employers.

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