Student visas are designed for foreign national students to study at an accredited US institution of higher education. There are different types of student visas available. Before applying for a visa, you should speak with a student visa lawyer to ensure you are making the best decision.

If you are interested in pursuing any type of student visa, contact Tucker, Nong and Associates by phone or online. Our student visa lawyers can help you understand what your best option is.

An Overview of Student Visas

Any international student who intends to undertake a course of training or academic study in the United States of America must obtain some type of student visa. The main differences between the two types of visas rest on the question of funding and on employment eligibility. There are three types of student visas – F visas, J visas and M visas. Below are basic descriptions and important information for each type of student visa.:

F Visa Status

If the student’s main source of funding will be obtained from external sources, a personnel department, or a joint personnel and external source, then the student is required to obtain an F-1 visa. To learn more, visit the following pages:

F-1 Visa and Status

F-2 Visa and Status

F-3 Visa and Status

J Visa Status

If the student’s main source of funding will be obtained from an external source such as a government agency or a university, then the student is required to obtain a J-1 visa. To learn more about J visas, visit:

J-1 Visa and Status

J-2 Visa and Status

M Visa Status

An M visa may permit students to enter the US if they are enrolled in a full time or part time vocational training program. For more information, visit:

M Visa and Status

Student Employment Eligibility

On-Campus Employment: Holders of F-1 and J-1 student visas are equally eligible to enter into part-time employment on campus during periods of full-time study.

However, during recess periods, F-1 visa holders may undertake full-time employment without any restrictions. Students who hold J-1 visas may also work full-time when not engaged in studies/training, but they must first obtain permission to work full-time from their particular

Alternate Responsible Officer/OISS Advisor

Off-Campus Training: Students of F-1 visas may enter into Optional Practical Training/OPT. Each student is allowed to participate in any off-campus program that is directly related to his or her program of study. Students may do so for a total of 12 months.

Participation in the OPT carries the same employment conditions as on-site employment. Students can take part in training under part-time conditions during full-time study. Training can be full-time during recess periods. The combined part- and full-time participation cannot exceed 12 months.

Here is an example – A student who undertakes three months of part-time OPT during term time can only undertake nine months of full-time OPT during the recess period.

Academic-Related Training for J-Visas

In contrast, students with J-1 visas may undertake academic-related training for a maximum of 36 months in certain cases. The training must be specific to their studies. This type of off-site employment can be undertaken during periods of study, and continued after graduation.

All J-1 undergraduate and pre-doctoral students are allowed to either undertake their full courses of study, or they can participate in 18 months of employment — whichever is the shorter option. This benefit is dependent on permission from the office of the OISS/International Advisor. Additionally, intended post-graduate students with J-1 visas must be program-eligible prior to their graduation. Students will not be able to apply for admission to the program after they have graduated.

Dependents of F-1 and J-1 Students

The question of employment eligibility for dependents of F-1 and J-1 visa holders is a perennial one. The answer depends on the visa status.

Dependents of F-1 visa holders are granted F-2 visas, and visitors within this visa status are not allowed to undertake any form of employment during their stay.

On the other hand, the dependents of J-1 visa holders are granted J-2 visa status. A J-2 visa holder may apply for the right to undertake employment in the United States throughout the duration of the J-1 visa holder’s program of studies. The J-2 visa holder must submit the requisite form to USCIS in order to obtain permission to work.

Two-Year Home Country Residence Requirement

Typically, a student J-1 visa holder must meet the requirement that he or she maintains a physical presence in his or her home country for a minimum of two years. This requirement is generally applicable to students who are funded by the United States government or the government of their home countries.

The two-year home country requirement means that each student must reside in her or her home country for a total of two years before they can be eligible for any other visa status. The requirement can be waived in special circumstances.

The two-year home country requirement can be enacted in a variety of ways. Typically, however, it is enacted when the home country feels that a particular shortage exists at home, so the student must return home to fill a need.

The case of medical training is a good example: A student studying at graduate level in the United States could be called home to fill a shortage. Students are encouraged to carry out an exhaustive investigation of the criteria at the website of the U.S. Department of State. See “Exchange Visitor Skills List.”

Students who hold F-1 visa status are exempt from the two-year home country requirement.

Receiving a 12-Month Ban

Students who have studied as J-1 visa holders for a period greater than six months can only return to the United States within the J-1 research category after a period of 12 consecutive calendar months have elapsed.

How we can help you

Pursuing a student visa can be a complicated process. Every situation is different and it is strongly recommended that you consult with a licensed student visa lawyer before moving forward.

Tucker, Nong and Associates employs experiences student visa lawyers. Our team can make sure you understand your options and ensure that your filing goes quickly and that no careless mistakes are made on your petition.

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