Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

F1 M1 Student Guide – Part 3 – Q & A


Attorney Chris M. Ingram – F1 Student Visa and M1 Visa Specialist

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Part 3 – Student Visa Guide – Questions and Answers

Welcome to Part 3 of our Student Visa Video Presentation. In this presentation we’re going to run through some questions and answers.

When Do I Need To Apply For My Visa?

Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample time for visa processing. Remember, it could take several weeks to get your credentials evaluated and get an official acceptance from the college.

Students may enter the US up to 30 days prior to the official start date of their course. If the student wishes to enter the US sooner than 30 days prior to the start of their course, they are required to apply for a B-2 visa instead with the notation that the purpose of the visa is to ultimately attend college. June, July and August are the busiest months for travel into the United States, so it’s always a good idea to get your application in early.

How Long Can I Stay In The USA?

You are allowed to stay in the USA for as long as you are enrolled as a full-time student and making normal progress. Thus, if your course lasts three years then you will be granted a three-year visa. Also, you may (subject to DSO and immigration approval) be allowed to stay in the USA after your course ends for a further 12 months to pursue practical training. Again, if your employer offered you suitable employment that would qualify you for a work permit, (for example, a H-1B), then you may be able to switch from the F-1 to the appropriate employment status without having to leave the USA.

Can I Extend My Stay To Complete My Studies?

You do not need to apply to extend your stay in the USA while attending college. However, if you need an extension because you were unable to complete your course within the normal time period due to compelling academic or medical reasons, then your DSO will complete the forms required. This must be submitted within 30 days of the normal course completion time as stated on your original I-20 A-B.

Can I Work Whilst a Student?

Once you have completed your first academic year as a student you may be allowed to work on or off-campus, subject to DSO approval, and this is called Optional Practical Training. The DSO can tell you if you are eligible to work, they could give you a list of jobs available on campus. Any family members accompanying the student will not be authorized to work.

When Can I Obtain A Social Security Number?

To get a SS# to work on campus, all that is required is a letter from your DSO stating that you are authorized to work and that you are enrolled in a full course of study as a second year student. If you wish to work off campus, your DSO will confirm as above but in this case you will need to also submit your college transcript.

Can I Travel Outside The USA?

Students may leave the USA and be readmitted after absences of up to five months. All absences should be approved and signed by your DSO. On the student’s return, he or she must present their valid passport, valid F-1 visa, current I-20 ID (student ID card), and DSO departure authority.

Can I Switch Courses Or Institutions?

In order to be eligible to switch institutions you must be a full-time student in good academic standing. This basically means that you have maintained good attendance and maintained good grades. You must complete your portion of the I-20 A-B and give it to your new DSO within 15 days of transferring.

Your spouse and children may come with you and will be issued with F-2 visas. Your DSO will issue I-20 certificates for each family member that will be submitted with the student’s general visa application documents. Copies of the family members’ passports will also be submitted. Therefore, all that is required is that they must attend any Embassy interview. All passports must have at least six months left prior to expiry.

We Can Help!

The prospect and availability of the student visa option can be a positive first step up the immigration ladder. Although colleges are very helpful in this, it is highly recommended that you have your attorney prepare and submit your final immigration package. The primary reason for this is section 214(b) INA. Many student applications are fake, in that the applicant has no intention of actually attending college, or even if they do, they drop out so they can pursue another unauthorized immigration route.

Most students are genuine in their motives so the Embassy has to determine the fakes from the genuine. Attorneys therefore are far more skilled than colleges to ensure that the entire application, not just the college portion, is prepared with section 214(b) in mind. We do come across applicants who have tried to do it alone, and whilst some may well succeed, others have failed because of the above-mentioned difficulties. In part 4 we’ll continue this presentation by discussing issues regarding children under 18, so stay with us and we look forward to you joining us shortly.


Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
[Cross Streets 4th and Wilshire]
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 310 496 4292

Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.

Please note that nothing contained in this website or link therefrom shall be regarded as providing legal advice. Please contact us directly for legal advice specific to your situation. Thank You.

Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.

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