If you qualify, and if you intend to self-finance your stay in the United States, you could spend time studying at a university, college, or other educational institution in the U.S.
More Information About the Process
F-1 visas are for anyone seeking to come to the USA to study at a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or language learning programs.
The first step is for a potential student to apply at the school of their choice and be accepted into a program. All programs must be full-time, and (with the exception of private elementary school) be a degree-granting program. Once accepted into a school, the school will issue an I-20 form, which serves as proof that the student was accepted into a specific school for a set duration to complete studies in a designated area. While Canadians do not need to visit a US Consulate for a visa stamp in their passport, they are still required to pay all Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fees online, for which the school will provide instructions and applicable school codes to register.
An F-1 visa is valid for the length of a program. For example, if a student is attending a four-year undergraduate program, the I-20 would be issued to start at the beginning of the program and have an end date when graduation is expected to happen. The I-20 is specific to the school and the student’s chosen program. Any changes to the school or program require a new I-20. If the student opts for curricular practical training (CPT) after a full-time year, that would be grounds for a new I-20. Same if the student opts for optional practical training (OPT) after graduation. Any travel requires the school’s authorization prior to travel. The F-1 can be extended based on the school’s policy and the student’s academic status and needs.
Frequently asked questions about studying in USA
1. Can I transfer to another school while in the US on the F-1?
Yes, you can transfer to another school, but you will need a new I-20 to do so.
2. I want to travel over a break from school. Is there anything I need to do?
Yes, you would need to inform your school so that your I-20 can be authorized for travel. At most schools, the International Student Office is responsible for issuing I-20s and otherwise providing assistance to international students.
3. I am married, but want to continue my studies in the US. Can my spouse come with me?
Yes, qualified dependents (spouses and children) are eligible for an F-2 visa that would allow them to be in the US with you for the duration of your program.
4. Can I work while going to school?
Any work would need to be authorized by the school through CPT or OPT; you cannot work independently while on the F-1.
5. I’m in the US on a work visa (H-1B, L-1, TN). If I wanted to pursue a degree, would I have to switch to an F-1?
That depends. A work visa requires that your primary activity in the US be to work for the employer who petitioned for your work visa. However, you can take classes toward a degree provided that it is not full time and doesn’t disrupt your work. For example, you could take an online or evening class each semester toward a master’s degree, but it cannot be a full time course load. If you wanted to go to school full-time, then yes, you would need to move to an F-1.
Why should you hire Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell to represent you?
The F-1 can be tricky to navigate, and you need to make sure you are eligible, and choosing the right visa – as opposed to the J-1 visa. It is helpful to consult with a qualified and experienced lawyer with a history of preparing these types of applications, so that they can help you anticipate and address any potential concerns that the officer reviewing your application may have.
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