Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers Report: Immigrants Pursuing A College Education In The United States Can Obtain A Student Visa

There are many reasons a person may wish to pursue higher education within the United States.  The option of furthering one’s education in America may lead to more diverse and financially rewarding job opportunities once a degree is obtained.  For an international student, there may be questions regarding how to obtain a student visa in order to initiate the process of becoming legal to register for higher education in the United States.

A foreign national wishing to pursue a college education in America can apply for a student visa.  A student visa can be sought within the U.S. or at a U.S. Consulate abroad.  In order to qualify for a student visa from within the U.S., a person must be residing legally in America with a current I-94.  The person must apply for a change in status from “tourist” to “student” which will be designated as either F-1 or M-1 student visa status.

Types of Student Visas

F-1 Student Visas:

  • For international students pursuing a full-time academic course of study, such as an Associates, Bachelor, Master’s or P.H.D. Degree.
  • Requires full-time study.  Typically, a minimum of 12 semester hours of instruction per academic term.
  • Exception – Cases where the student requires less instruction time to complete the course of study.
  • An applicant may only seek employment under specific circumstances and with USCIS authorization.

M-1 Student Visas:

  • For students pursuing a full-time course of study at an established vocational school or other nonacademic, technical school.
  • Requires full-time study, usually consisting of a minimum of 18 hours of study per week in instances when classroom instruction is the primary focus of the course.
  • The requirement will be increased to 22 hours of study per week if the primary focus of the course is in the laboratory or workshop.
  • M-1 students can only seek employment under a program called “Optional Practical Training” (OPT).  OPT offers students the opportunity to work off campus in their designated field for one full year either during school or after graduation.

Timeframe for Student Visas

Once a student visa has been approved as either an F-1 or M-1 status, the person is permitted to study in the U.S. for a period of time called “Duration of Status.”  This is also commonly known as “D/S.”  D/S status allows the student to legally reside in the U.S. for purposes of education for the entire length of their degree or vo-tech program.   Moreover, D/S status allows the student 30 days after the completion of their approved course of study to depart the U.S.  There are circumstances in which student visas may be extended if a person decides to change their course of study or to pursue an additional higher degree.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers of Surin & Griffin, P.C. Assist Students with Visas

For more information on student visas, call the full service Philadelphia immigration law firm of Surin & Griffin, P.C.  We are experienced in helping clients with immigration, citizenship and nationality law issues.  Our law offices are located in Center City Philadelphia but we practice around the globe.  Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online.