F Student Visas

Foreign nationals entering the US to study at colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, elementary schools, and in other academic institutions are eligible for
a F student visa. Individuals outside the US must first apply to the academic institution and
receive a Form I-20 which they present at the US Embassy or Consulate abroad to receive the
F visa. Students entering the US are admitted for the duration of their student status, or “D/S”
as denoted on the Form I-20 and may enter the US up to 30 days before the commencement
of their studies.

Additionally, students are allowed an additional 60 days after completing the
course of studies or their authorized practical training as reflected on their Form I-20 to prepare
for departure or transfer to another school. Students are eligible for two types of work
authorization associated with student status:

  • Curricular Practical Training. A student may be authorized by the designated
school official (DSO) to participate in a curricular practical training program that is
an integral part of an established curriculum. The student may seek employment
as work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. There is no limit to the amount of time a student may
engage in curricular practical training.  A foreign national who has completed 12
months or more of curricular practical training may not engage in optional practical
training, except in very limited circumstances. The DSO must annotate the Form I-20
as authorized to engage in either full or part time curricular practical training.
  • Optional Practical Training. A student may apply to the USCIS for temporary
employment for optional practical training directly related to the student’s major
area of study after the student has been enrolled for nine months (and at the
completion of the full academic year), which may occur:
  1. During school vacations;
  2. On a part-time basis, no more than 20 hours per week while school is in
session; or
  3. At the completion of a course of study for Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degreed
program for no longer than 12 months, which must end within 14 months of
the completion of studies (certain exceptions apply for the 12 month limitation for those with science, technology, engineering or math degrees).

The student must apply for optional practical training prior to the completion of all course requirements for the degree or prior to a the completion of the course of study. The student
must first request optional practical training from the DSO who will annotate the Form I-20, which must be submitted to the USCIS for approval. The student may commence employment
only after receiving an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the USCIS.

Copyright © 2009 Law Offices of Melissa Harms All rights reserved.

The above discussion is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an
attorney-client relationship. Individuals should visit a licensed attorney to evaluate the legal circumstances surrounding their
situation and to receive appropriate legal advice.