The F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category that allows foreign students to enter the United States to pursue academic or language study at an accredited institution. This visa is specifically designed for individuals who plan to enroll in a full-time academic program, such as a degree program at a university or college, a high school program, or an English language program.
Key Features And Details About TN Visas:
The primary purpose of the F-1 visa is to enable foreign students to pursue education in the United States. It allows them to study full-time at an accredited educational institution and gain valuable academic and cultural experiences.
To be eligible for an F-1 visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Admission to an accredited educational institution in the United States.
- Sufficient academic qualifications and financial resources to support themselves during their study.
- Intent to return to their home country after completing their studies.
Duration of Stay:
Students are typically allowed to stay in the US until the completion of their academic program, including any authorized practical training (optional work experience related to their field of study). Students can extend their stay in the US by continuing their education.
- On-campus employment: F-1 students are allowed to work on-campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time during breaks.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): F-1 students may be eligible for CPT, which is temporary employment directly related to their field of study. CPT is typically authorized by the educational institution.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): F-1 students may be eligible for OPT, which allows them to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months after completing their academic program. STEM degree holders may be eligible for an additional 24-month extension.
Read more about employment opportunities for F-1 students.
Exemption from certain taxes:
F-1 students who are considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes are generally exempt from paying FICA taxes for up to five calendar years. The five-year exemption period typically starts from the date of their arrival in the United States as an F-1 student. It's important to note that the FICA tax exemption for F-1 students applies to the Social Security and Medicare portions of the tax. Other federal and state taxes, such as income tax, may still be applicable depending on the student's income level and the tax laws in their specific state. To ensure compliance with tax regulations and determine eligibility for any tax exemptions, it is recommended that F-1 students consult with a tax professional or seek guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or their educational institution's international student office.
F-1 students may be able to bring their dependents (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) to the U.S. They can apply for an F-2 visa, which allows them to accompany the student. However, F-2 visa holders are not allowed to work, and dependents of F-1 students are not permitted to engage in full-time study but can participate in part-time study or vocational training.
Change of status to F-1 status:
Individuals who are in the US on other statuses (e.g. B-2 status) can change their status to F-1 without leaving the US. The process is commonly referred to as a Change of Status (COS) application. Change of status is not applicable to immigrants who entered the US pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA).
Navigating the F-1 visa process can be complex, as it requires meeting specific eligibility criteria and providing thorough documentation. The Immigration Law Firm of Marcin Muszynski, Esq. can assist you in preparing a strong and compelling petition.