Immigration Law: How to Become a Student with a Visa?

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Becoming a student with a visa in the United States usually starts at the home country of the foreign national. These steps start with contact through an immigration office, but some students may initiate the transfer to an F1 visa for study abroad through a university, and this could lead to educational opportunities in the states.

Some foreign nationals are already part of a university or college program and only need to ensure their stamps have current registration. Others need to start the process to move to the states and begin education. If the person has contact with a school, he or she may need to acquire a work visa for university jobs during or before the study program. This could lead an immigrant to initiate an F1 visa or work visa that progresses to the F1 visa. Either procedure may take the same amount of time depending on various factors. However, it is important to contact a college before moving to the United States so that all other requirements are met.

The Student Visas

When a foreign national wants to study in the United States, he or she has two options. These include the F1 visa for academic studies where he or she joins an educational program, or he or she could acquire an M visa for nonacademic or some form of vocational studies. These are often similar, but the types of colleges or schools may have no connection to each other. Because the process needs the individual to communicate with the school, he or she usually starts by contacting and talking with the admissions board. The contact will also provide information about the immigration authority at the college or nearby.

The F1 Visa

The F1 Visa is the most common form of student visa for foreign nationals. This is due to the connection to academic programs. Any immigrant that is wanting to take classes and study in the United States may first look at and research the F1 visa. If the degree the individual wants to acquire demands a four or two-year course load, it usually starts with a college or university. The visa may need an extension on the stamps if the person needs to journey to another country, but the visa itself is generally set until the program is complete. However, if the student does not complete the academic program in the time permitted based on the degree plan, he or she may acquire an extension with a local immigration authority.

The M Visa

When applying for a student visa in the United States, the foreign national may do so based on what type of job or career his or she wants. When the field of expertise only requires technical or vocational training, an M visa is the most appropriate green card to acquire. These students may have a four-year study plan, but most certificates take one to two years. This shortens the amount of time to study, but the individual may seek work or alter his or her visa to a work visa if he or she plans on remaining in the country. It is critical to obtain the correct type visa based on the college, vocational or technical school or university. The local immigration authorities will need contact to ensure everything is valid and if there are any possible violations to these processes.

Acquiring and Keeping the Student Visa

Once the foreign national determines which college and academic program to follow, he or she should communicate with both the school or university and local immigration authorities. Paperwork must start for an F1 or M visa so that the individual may become a student. Then, once all documentation is valid and the person has the necessary visa stamp, he or she may travel to the United States. The state he or she will reside in becomes his or her home. This placement may include either a dormitory or school housing or residence with a local family to support the immigrant until he or she is ready to stand alone.

Legal Processes with Student Visas

Obtaining the visa is less difficult than incurring a violation. The student may require the services of a lawyer if his or her stamp expires and travel to his or her country of origin is necessary. The local immigration authorities in the United States will need contact, and an extension on the stamp is necessary. Legal support may assist in protecting all other rights.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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