The Law Offices of Elsa Ayoub, P.L.L.C.

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Which student visa is right for you?

The United States is home to some of the best schools in the world. A quality education is a cornerstone of the American dream. Students around the globe strive for the chance to study in the U.S.

While an American education is a dream for many, getting a visa to study in the U.S. can be difficult. The first step is to determine which student visa is appropriate for your prospective course of study.

Types of student visas

If you decide to participate in an educational program in the U.S., the first step is to choose, apply and be accepted into your chosen program, and then, in turn, which type of visa is appropriate. Several categories of student visas are available, as follows:

  • F-1 visa: The most common type of visa for international students seeking an American education is the F-1 visa. F-1 visas are for full-time students seeking a degree, diploma or certificate at an institution approved by the U.S. government to host international students.
  • J-1 visa: The J-1 visa is a visa for students attending State Department-approved exchange programs. Those who may qualify for J-1 visas include instructors, lecturers, students, au pairs, camp counselors and more.
  • M-1 visa: An M-1 visa is for students attending non-academic vocational programs. An M-1 visa is initially valid one year, and may be extended for up to three years.

Working as a student

The ability to work while in the U.S. as a student depends on the type of visa you have and the type or work you wish to do.

Those on an F-1 visa may only work on campus during their first year in the U.S. After the first year, they may work off campus if the job pertains to their area of study and is approved by an on-campus international student liaison.

Those on a J-1 visa may work if the program with which they are affiliated allows employment.

On an M-1 visa, you may work in a practical training program only after completing your studies.

Seek guidance

In order to help foreign students determine which student visa is right for them, many resources exist online. The local American Embassy or Consulate has information available as well.

An immigration attorney is able to help you prepare the documents required for the application, and prepare your for your visa interview as well.

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