A nonimmigrant visa is given to individuals for an educational or business trip within the United States. This type of visa is referred to as a “J” visa. The individual must have adequate money to return home after their stay in the US has ended.
There are two types of visas that can be used for international studies: F-1 (for full time students) and M-1 (for part time students). Both require you to maintain proof of sufficient funds to support yourself while studying here, but only one requires registration at a university.
Business travelers also need to prove they will spend enough time in America to qualify for B-2 tourist status. If this isn't the case then they will likely be classified as visiting for sightseeing purposes which does not entitle them to enter or remain in the country.
This article will go into more detail about both types of visa eligibility and how to verify if someone meets the requirements.
A student can only work while in America as part of their educational program if they have both an internship and employment position during their stay.
Students cannot perform paid work while studying, nor can they hold either an intern or employment position without having approval for that first. If you are already working when you apply for the visa, your existing employer must approve it before it can be used for studies.
The Department of State requires that you have an active job offer before they will process your application. You can apply for this at any time, but it is best to do so as soon as possible since there is a two year window during which you must fulfill these criteria.
You also need to make sure that your employment qualifies under one of the program categories for the F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status. This includes jobs in teaching, research, health care, management, etc. It cannot be just anything!
Once again, you can always update your visa status later (provided you still meet the requirements), but it would be better to be clear on what status you want early on to avoid unnecessary delays.
The next step in applying for your international student visa is to find an organization that can help you with it. Organizations that offer professional services like this are called Student & Scholar Services (SSS) providers.
These companies work with universities, federally funded research institutes as well as private institutions and corporations. They handle all of the paperwork required to process your visa including applications, affidavits, proof of tuition paid, etc.
Some SSS vendors also manage payments for students while they’re studying so there's no need to pay twice for resources!
There are many great reasons to use an SSS provider, but one of the biggest is cost effectiveness. An SSS vendor takes care of everything necessary to process your visas, which helps cut down on the fees that must be paid multiple times.
If your application is not approved, you can still live and work in the United States as long as you have access to resources and money to stay here. You will be notified of this within one month of submitting your documents!
If you are already living in the US when you find out that you were not given permission to study or work in America, you must quickly determine whether you want to remain here or return home. It may be difficult to afford returning home so it’s important to know what options exist for you.
There are several ways to reenter the US after studying abroad or working outside of the country. These include:
Returning using the Electronic System To Reenter (ESTR) program. This allows you to enter through any international airport with no passport required. Your ESTR card must be activated at least 30 days prior to traveling and cannot be used while overseas.
This article contains some helpful information about other types of visas and how to prove eligibility before getting a new visa. Visit our How to Become A Permanent Resident Guide for more tips.
Having a job while you have active status with your F-1 or M-1 visa is prohibited. If you run out of time in your position, you will be charged with employment without authorization under federal law.
If you are arrested for another offense, this can also hurt your chances of staying in the country. A criminal record means higher fees to reenter the United States as well as disqualification from some jobs.
Technically, you cannot work while you are in the United States as a nonimmigrant unless your stay is for less than six months or you have received special permission to work. If this exception applies to you, then it’s fine to work while on your student visa.
However, there is an easy way to avoid having to break federal law by registering as an intern with a business that will sponsor you for employment. This registration process can be done online through educational institutions that offer international programs.
By registering as an intern at a company, they will include working during your stay as part of your position. Many employers require their interns to do some kind of work so don’t feel like you need to put in eight hours every day to fulfill your obligations.
There is one more way to qualify for a F-1 student visa, and this can be the most difficult to fulfill. The second qualification criterion is being able to show that you have enough money to fund your studies while in the United States.
This is called proof of sufficient funds or PSF. You must be able to prove that you have enough money to cover all of your living expenses while studying here. This includes tuition, room and board, transportation costs, personal supplies like clothes and shoes, and anything else that goes beyond buying food every day.
There are several ways to gather this information, but the easiest way is by looking at past income. If you remember, when you applied for your resident status as a nonimmigrant alien, you were asked about all of your sources of income during the time frame of your application. At that time, you listed everything, including scholarships and loans. Some of these may still be valid today, so look back over those documents to see if there are any mentions of funding.
Another way to gain evidence of adequate financing is to ask friends and family who know you well if they have heard of you paying for school before. Or maybe someone who knows what kind of career path you want has seen advertisements or interviews with companies where you work. These could include logos you wear or materials you use in your job, pictures or videos of you doing your job, or knowing someone who does your job.
The second clause of this section asks if you have any pending applications or petitions in your home country. If you do, then you will need to include it here as well!
If you do not have anything pending at the time of filing your visa petition, you can wait until later to apply for these benefits. You should still be able to come back to America on your current visa though!
You also cannot enter Canada, Mexico, or another Schengen Country like France or Germany unless you have an appropriate visa. These countries are part of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), which does not require visas for citizens of most member nations.