student visa attorney

Student Visa

Supporting Students' Educational Endeavors

Foreign nationals dream of educational opportunities in the United States to start a career and improve their living conditions back home. Student visas are the door to these endeavors and a better way of life.

US immigration laws allow students to enter the country and complete educational, vocational, and career-based programs. Discussing how these visas work with a student visa attorney helps these students achieve their American dream.

Types of Student Visas in the US

There are three US student visas available to non-immigrant students. The following outlines the three types of student visas and under what circumstances students need them.

F-1 Student Visa: International students need an F-1 visa to attend college, high school, elementary school, seminary, conservatory, and other academic institutions for training or English as a second language programs.

M-1 Student Visa: Students must have an M-1 student visa to enter US vocational programs outside of English as a second language programs through nonacademic institutions.

J1-Student Visa: The J-1 student visa or Exchange Visitor Visa enables students to participate in work-study-related exchange programs. Foreign nationals must have a J-1 student visa to participate in US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs-approved programs to achieve one of the following:

  • Instructing, teaching, or lecturing
  • Studying, observing, or conducting research
  • Demonstrating special job skills
  • Undergoing training for special job skills
  • Participating in graduate-level medical training or educational programs

Student Visa Process

Each student visa requires students to complete an application and provide specific documentation related to their program and US eligibility requirements. To enter the US as a student, applicants must follow these guidelines and get approval from the US Department of State and US Customs and Immigration. Applicants who need assistance with visa approval, entering the US, or visa renewal issues turn to student visa attorneys for answers.

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Eligibility Criteria for Student Visas

F-1 Student Visa

To qualify, the applicant must have proof of foreign residency and intend to return after graduation. Acceptance from a college, public school system, or ESL program is required for these students, and they are restricted to studies at the institution that appears on their 1-20 form only.

They must have sufficient financial support to cover their living expenses, healthcare requirements, school tuition, and school-related costs. The US Consulate, consular officer, or US Customs and Border Protection officers must receive proof of the student’s ability to support themselves financially and pay for the educational program.

For example, evidence of their ability to support themselves includes documentation for international savings or bank account balances, financial aid program documents for international students, or college scholarships. In addition, students with healthcare insurance must provide proof of coverage.

Applicants must also have strong ties to their resident country, such as employment offers contingent on completing the educational program, assets, family, or active bank accounts.

According to federal law, the program requires full-time student status for all participants. Graduates have sixty days following the end of their program to remain in the US. They must complete their academic program before their 1-20 form expires. If the student faces deportation before the 60-day window, a student visa attorney could help.

Some students who want to work in the US after graduation must complete and receive approval for a new visa through the Optional Practical Training program. OPT offers temporary work in the graduate’s field of study. The student must apply before the end of their program and can complete no more than 12 months of employment.

M-1 Student visa

To qualify, the student must enroll and get accepted into an entire course of study through an institution such as a community college. The institution must offer 12-semester programs or quarter hours that equate to full-time student status.

The program is offered through a vocational, post-secondary vocational, or business school providing associate degrees, higher degrees, or certificates. All M-1 visas must be certified by a designated school official.

All students who enter the US on an M-1 visa aren’t permitted to work. They should consult a student visa attorney if an international student wishes to update their visa to obtain work privileges.

J-1 Visa

To qualify for the student visa, the applicant must meet the outlined requirements in their preferred category and provide documentation for eligibility.

For example, au pairs must be between 18 and 26 years of age and speak English fluently, and they must have proof of graduation from a secondary school.

The Department of State must assign exchange sponsors for each participant through the Exchange Visitor Program. The exchange program aims to exchange skills and knowledge and attract skilled professionals or workers in the arts, science, and education.

Participants include research assistants, trainees or students, specialists, scholars or professors, au pairs, interns, doctors, government visitors, and camp counselors.
After completing their program, students must return to their home country for at least two years—failure to comply with these conditions results in deportation.

Exceptional circumstances approved by the Department of State may provide a waiver for this requirement. Student visa attorneys can help non-immigrant students file documents for the waiver.

Application Process and Documentation

Applications are available online and through the US Embassy in the foreign national’s country of residence. To submit their application, they must gather all documentation outlined by the US student visa laws.

For example, for F-1 and M-1 visas, students need an I-20 form from the school or vocational institution; for J-1 visas, the applicants need a DS-2019 form. Next, students set up an interview with the US Embassy or Consulate’s office in their country, submit their application, and pay all applicable fees.

Once they receive approval for their application, they attend a visa interview as directed. Finally, upon approval, the student arranges entry into the US through their school official or sponsor.

Common Challenges in the Student Visa Process

International students face many challenges during and after the visa process. First, in the US, non-immigrant students have fewer job opportunities, making it challenging to enter work-study programs or even support themselves financially after their visa is approved.

Many students studying via visa may encounter restrictions on leaving the US for school-related vacations and holidays. These issues could leave them without housing which presents further difficulty in retaining a visa.

Non-immigrant students incur higher tuition costs, especially if they choose a private college instead of a public university. In addition, costs increase annually for driver’s license renewals, and difficulties emerge when seeking financing from banks for necessities like automobiles.

The greatest and most profound challenge that non-immigrant students experience is the ever-changing political climate and views on immigration. Throughout the years, international students have been fearful because of racism and the threat of violence, making it even harder to enter the country and complete educational programs successfully.

Trust Gallardo Immigration Law for Student Visa Success!

The student visa attorneys at Gallardo Immigration Law understand hopeful international students’ challenges and frustrations. They have a solid track record and know how to help foreign students get the education and opportunities they deserve.

For all students in the US on a visa and facing a crisis or possible deportation, Gallardo Immigration Law can provide the following:

  • Expertise in immigration law
  • Assistance with visa applications
  • Guidance on eligibility requirements
  • Support in addressing visa issues and denials
  • Legal representation in immigration court

An American education could qualify international students for extraordinary careers in their country. Higher degrees, job training, and work experience could qualify them for top salaries and help them achieve a new standard of living. Their first step is to get approval for a student visa in the US and enter the country successfully. Secure your educational future: consult a student visa attorney today!

Consult a Student Visa Attorney Today!

We provide legal guidance and representation to individuals who are seeking to obtain or maintain a student visa.


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