The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
Individuals in other visa statuses, especially dependents of foreign national employees, can attend school in the United States without moving to F-1 status. However, it may be beneficial to move to F-1 status to take advantage of available work opportunities while in F-1 status.
F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. There are various programs available for F-1 students to seek off-campus employment, after the first academic year. F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment, after they have been studying for one academic year. These three types of employment are:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion up to one year)
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT for an additional 24 months)
- Can Foreign Students and Other Immigrants Start Businesses Inside the United States?
- Individuals Should Apply for F-1 OPT STEM Extensions Regardless of H-1B Sponsorship