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F-1 Visa

The U.S. offers a variety of options for foreign nationals interested in pursuing an academic education or language training program that results in a diploma, degree or certificate.  In addition to competitive academic curricula, studying in the U.S. gives international students opportunities to understand and experience culture in the U.S., which contributes to personal growth and development when they return to their home country.

Foreign nationals who want to study in the U.S. may apply for the F-1 visa. Although the J-1 and M-1 visas are sometimes used, most foreign students enter the U.S. in F-1 status.  Foreign nationals interested in pursuing the F-1 visa must first enroll in a USCIS approved academic educational program on a full-time basis. The academic institution will then initiate the necessary paperwork to enable a foreign student to obtain an F-1 visa.

Obtaining an academic degree through an F-1 visa opens many doors for foreign students.  Along with the prestige of studying at a U.S. academic institution, the F-1 also allows foreign students to obtain temporary work authorization in the U.S. depending on the length of their academic curriculum.  F-1 students studying in a Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Mathematic (STEM) curriculum may also qualify for extended work authorization.

Spouses and unmarried children under age 21 may accompany (or join at a later time) the F-1 student to the U.S. in F-2 dependent status but they are not permitted to work.  Children are permitted to attend school (kindergarten to 12th grade).  Spouses may take recreational and avocational courses but not full-course studies.

   
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