There are few things more important than getting an education. For many individuals who live outside of the U.S., receiving a U.S. education is their goal. If you’re looking to attend higher education here in the United States, please don’t hesitate to speak with our experienced New Jersey education immigration lawyer to learn more about how we can help you, each step of the way.
Education Immigration Lawyer | Here for Clients in NJ & throughout the U.S.
Getting the right New Jersey immigration lawyer in your corner can seem like a daunting task. After all, when faced with a matter of immigration, your future may hang in the balance. Fortunately, our firm has decades of experience representing individuals looking to get an education here in the U.S., and we’re prepared to put that experience to work for you in your case. There is a wide range of education-based visas an individual may use, which is why it’s paramount that you have a knowledgeable education immigration lawyer in your corner who can determine the best path for you.
The F-1 Visa
A lot of individuals enter the U.S. every year with the intention to pursue their studies in approved educational institutions. The 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 a 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 an F-1 visa. Citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries have to apply for an F-1 visa and cannot study on Visa Waiver or Visitor (B) visa unless it is a 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 a Form I-20 which must be presented to the consular officer at the time of the visa interview.
Applicants must demonstrate strong ties in a foreign country mostly the home country to which they will return at the end of study along with financial stability for the period of study including tuition and living expenses. Spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 years of F-1 visa holders can enter and reside in the U.S. on an 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 a 60-day period to prepare for departure from the U.S. or change to another status.
F-1 visa holders are not permitted to work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. That said, after the first academic year, F-1 visa holders may seek off-campus employment through certain programs.
Renewing an F-1 Visa
An F-1 visa holder is expected to comply with all immigration regulations so as to not go “out of status”. They must also remember to attend the school whose I-20 was used to enter the U.S. and maintain full-time registration and seek timely transfers. If you are “out of status” then you have to leave the country immediately. However, in certain circumstances, you can apply for Reinstatement of your F-1 status. You may be eligible for reinstatement as long as you:
- Are currently enrolled or will enroll for a full-time course
- Can prove the violation of status was not your fault
- Have not been out of status for more than five months
- Are not considered deportable from the United States on any grounds
- Do not have a history of repeated immigration violations
- Were not engaged in any unauthorized employment
- Can prove you have the financial resources to pursue a full-time education at the given institution
If you believe you may qualify for an F-1 visa or are interested in renewing your visa, please don’t hesitate to speak with a dedicated New Jersey education immigration lawyer from our firm for help.
The M-1 Visa
The M-1 visa is a type of student visa to pursue a vocational, non-academic program (other than a language training program) in an established approved institution in the United States.
Like an F-1 visa, the prospective student must show a permanent residence in a foreign country (preferably in their home country) and should be willing to leave the U.S. at the end of the program.
M-1 visa is valid only for a year and extensions may be granted for a total of three years. Students must be enrolled in a full-time course, meaning at least 12 semester or quarter classes. Students may not join part-time courses unless medical reasons are shown and that to only for six months. They may not change schools after the first six months. This visa does not allow students to work during the course of study. However, students may receive Optional Practical Training at the end of their course up to a maximum of six months.
Examples of vocational programs include flight classes, cooking classes, mechanical studies, and other similar pursuits. Spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 can apply for M-2 visas so as to stay with the M-1 visa holder. If you think you may qualify for an M-1 visa, reach out to an experienced education immigration lawyer from our firm for help.
H-3 Visa for Trainees
Aliens entering the U.S. on an H-3 visa must be invited by an institution or person to receive training in any field of commerce, communications, finance, government, transportation, agriculture, and other professions which is generally not available in their home country. This visa is not intended to provide employment but job-related training so that aliens can perform similar jobs in their home country. H-3 petition must be very detailed and should provide the type of training along with the number of hours, description, reasons, and remuneration.
The petition must be made by filling Form I-129. If approved, then the H-3 visa holder may be allowed to stay for a period of 2 years.
Spouses and children under the age of 21 years may accompany the trainee to the U.S. on an H-4 visa which does not allow them to seek employment but allows them to study.
The J-1 visa classification is available to aliens who come to the United States to participate in an approved exchange visitor program to teach, study, receive training, or demonstrate special skills. J-1 visa holders join courses that are not available in their home country. Unlike other student visas, J-1 visa holders are allowed to work and travel during their stay in the United States. J-1 visa has to be sponsored by a public or private agency but must be accredited through the Exchange Visitor Program designed by the U.S. Department of State. A Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (DS-2019) has to be obtained from the program sponsor prior to obtaining the visa.
There are different programs within the J-1 category, including trainees, college or university students, secondary school students, professors, and research scholars, short-term scholars, specialists, foreign medical graduates, international and government visitors, and summer work/travel students. Certain types of J-1 exchange visitors require that the alien return to another country for a period of two years after the completion of J-1 status. However, there are certain circumstances in which they can be waived. The Department of State maintains a complete and updated list of all sponsoring organizations which can be found here.
Spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 can apply for a J-2 visa. Spouses of J-1 visa holders may be employed provided the employment is not for the support of the J-1 and the spouse is not a J-1 visa holder themselves. Employment may be authorized for the duration of the J-1 validity or 4 years, whichever is shorter.
If the J-1 visa holder is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement but is not able to fulfill the requirement, then he or she may apply to the Department of State, Waiver Review Division for a recommendation that USCIS grant a waiver under any one of the five applicable bases set forth.
1. No Objection Statement
The home country government may issue a No Objection Statement to the Waiver Review Division that it has no objection to the J-1 visa holders not returning to their home country and no objection to the possibility of their becoming a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Foreign medical physicians who are on J-1 visa status for the purpose of receiving graduate medical education or training are not allowed to use this option.
2. Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency
If the J-1 visa holder is working on a project for or of interest to a U.S. federal government agency, and that agency has determined that the departure for two years would be detrimental to its interest, then that agency may request a Waiver on behalf of the J-1 visa holder. The Interested Government Agency request must be signed by the head of the agency or his or her designee and submitted directly to the Waiver Review Division.
If the J-1 visa holder believes that he or she will be persecuted based on race, religion, or political opinion when they return to their home country, they may apply for a persecution waiver by submitting Form I-612 directly to USCIS.
USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of persecution.
4. Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. Citizen (or Lawful Permanent Resident) Spouse or Child of an Exchange Visitor
If the J-1 visa holder can demonstrate that departure from the U.S. would cause exceptional hardship to their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or child, then that person may apply for an exceptional hardship waiver.
Please note that mere separation from family is not considered to be sufficient to establish exceptional hardship. Form I-612 must be submitted directly to USCIS.
USCIS will forward its decision directly to the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division. The Waiver Review Division will proceed with the waiver recommendation under this basis only if USCIS makes a finding of exceptional hardship.
5. Request by a Designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program)
If the J-1 visa holder is a foreign medical graduate who obtained exchange visitor status to pursue graduate medical training or education, then request for waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement could be based on the request of a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent, if all of the following criteria is met. This waiver category is also known as the Conrad State 30 Program. There must be:
An offer of full-time employment at a healthcare facility in a designated healthcare professional shortage area or at a healthcare facility that serves patients from such a designated area.
An agreement to begin employment at that facility within 90 days of receiving a waiver.
A signed contract to continue working at that health care facility for a total of 40 hours per week and for not less than three years.
Contact Our Education Immigration Lawyer Today
Having the right education immigration lawyer in your corner can make a world of a difference, turning a rather complex process into a smooth one. If you need an education immigration lawyer you can depend on, simply contact the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC today to schedule an initial consultation with our firm.