In general, a resident of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa. To study in the USA you must have a student visa. Your study course and the type of school you expect to attend will decide the visa that you need. There are three types of student visas in the US – F1, M1, and J1 visa, but the most common among international students is the F1 visa. Visa designation F-1 is for an overseas full-time student pursuing academic studies or who are attending an academic or English Language Program. This may be for both undergraduate and graduate students.
4 Steps in Getting an F1 Student Visa in the US
There are three types of student visas depending on your course of study.
Working in F1 Visa
Remembering that F1 visas are intended for full-time students and are not planned as work visas is necessary. Because of this, foreign students are usually allowed to work 20 hours a week on campus while school is in session and full-time when school is in recess, but at your school, you may need to first obtain permission from the Homeland Security Department and the Foreign Office. It is a serious breach of the regulations to operate illegally while on an F1 visa and could result in deportation.
Additionally, holders of F1 visas are entitled to permission to work off-campus for up to 12 months. This authorization is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) and allows F1 students to practice in an area similar to their field of study, and therefore to work. For more details please contact your school’s international student advisor.
Transferring School or Shifting Courses
Students moving from one course to another is a common thing because it is very hard to choose which course of study will suit you best. International students on an F1 visa are required to study at the academic institution through which they filed and granted their visa application. However, foreign students are eligible to switch institutions if the student completes or leaves their current program with verified intentions to study the following academic semester at a specific US institution.
According to a consular officer, a college or a university is not a factor when looking at student visas. The most important thing is the information in the I-20 form. As long as the student has an I-20 from the school where they want to study, there is no problem at all. In changing programs or courses of studies, it’s important to reach out to the international student services officer for your institution and explain what you plan to do. For transferring of schools, you’re going to transfer your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) account and you’ll need to have your new institution to issue you an I-20 form. There’s a process in doing that. In terms of changing your course of study or major, you just have to update the institution in where you’re enrolled.
In case there are questions, it is important to reach out to the college or university so they could guide you in decision-making.