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A lot of individuals enter the U.S. every year with the intention to pursue their studies in approved educational institutions. F-1 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa for aliens who plan to pursue full-time studies in the U.S. F-1 visa applicants must be accepted in a program in an approved University/College/High School/Private Elementary School or other academic institution including language training program. Once accepted by the institution, prospective students if outside the U.S. need to apply for a visa at the U.S. consulate/embassy abroad. Prospective students who are already in the U.S. may be eligible to apply to change their status to F-1 visa. Citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries have to apply for F-1 visa and cannot study on Visa Waiver or Visitor (B) visa unless it is recreational study. Upon acceptance by the institution, the applicant will have to pay a fee and enroll in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). The academic institution will provide with a Form I-20 which must be presented to the consular officer at the time of visa interview.

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Applicants must demonstrate strong ties in a foreign country mostly the home country to which he or she will return at the end of study along with financial stability for the period of study including tuition and living expense. Spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 years of F-1 visa holders can enter and reside in the U.S. on F-2 visa. They must obtain individual Form I-20s, but they do not pay the SEVIS fee.

Unlike all other visas, F-1 visa holders are allowed to remain in the U.S. for the “duration of status” meaning the time taken to complete the studies plus possible practical training. F-1 visa holders who have completed a course of study and any authorized practical training will be allowed 60-day period to prepare for departure from the U.S. or change to another status.

F-1 visa holders may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. There are various programs available for F-1 visa holders to seek off-campus employment, after the first academic year. There are three types of practical training that students may participate in while enrolled:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)

We, at the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC can help you in applying for change of status/extension/adjustment of status to a different visa. To schedule your appointment contact us at 201-518-6642201-518-6642 (Jersey City Office), 732-750-1269732-750-1269 (Woodbridge Office). You can also email us at