Student Visas (F, M, J Visas)

EducationUSA is a good source of information on finding schools in the U.S.

“Full Course of Study” for undergraduate study means: Study at a college or university, certified by a school official to consist of at least 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term in those institutions using standard semester, trimester, or quarter hour systems, where all undergraduate students who are enrolled for a minimum of twelve semester or quarter hours are charged full-time tuition or are considered full-time for other administrative purposes, or its equivalent (as determined by the district director in the school approval process), except when the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the current term.

You should have your I-20/DS2019 with you at your appointment. It is important, however, that you schedule your appointment well in advance. Please select a date in which you expect to have your I-20/DS2019. See here for more information.

Please note, however, that if your program starting date is a month or less away, you may come to your appointment without your I-20/DS2019 and submit it to us as soon as it arrives.

Please contact your school directly. If the school does not have the forms, it should contact the local office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, student visa holders may enter the U.S. no earlier than 30 days before the start date listed on their I-20. This 30-day limit does not apply to returning students with a valid I-20; they may travel to the U.S. at any time.

F visa holders may remain in the US for up to 60 days after the end date listed on their I-20. M visa holders may remain in the U.S. either for one year or the time indicated on the I-20 plus 30 days, whichever is less.

Current student visa holders who are outside the United States should consult with their Designated School Officials. More information is available on the SEVP website under Do Students Returning from Temporary Absences Need New Visas?

If you change schools before you make your first trip to the US as a student, you will need to get a new visa. However, if you are changing schools after you have started your studies in the US, you do not need to get a new visa. Current student visa holders who are outside the United States should consult with their Designated School Officials. More information is available on the SEVP website under Do Students Returning from Temporary Absences Need New Visas?

You may remain in the U.S. as long as you are in full-time student status. On your next trip outside the U.S., you will need to obtain a valid student visa in order to reenter the U.S.

In certain circumstances, F-1 visa holders may obtain permission to work. M-1 visa holders may only engage in employment which is a required part of their practical training and the employment has been approved in advance by the office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

No. Family members may not work on derivative F-2 and M-2 visas; they may, however, engage in study that is vocational or recreational in nature, only as a part-time student.

According to section 214(l) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), students cannot attend public elementary school (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) or publicly funded adult education programs such as foreign language classes on an F-1 visa. It is possible to attend public high school (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18) for a maximum of 12 months on an F-1 visa, but proof must be shown that payment has been made for the full, unsubsidized cost of the education before a visa can be processed.

Students attending private elementary and secondary schools are not affected by this ruling.