The United States offers many educational opportunities to international students. Foreign nationals may attend a school approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services if they obtain student or exchange visitor visas. The Atlanta immigration attorneys at Pozo Goldstein, LLP have fifty years of combined experience, including experience as immigration prosecutors and behind the bench. We can help you obtain the right kind of visa to ensure that your study abroad goes as smoothly as possible, and can also help you should any problems arise during your stay.
Different educational programs require different visas, and certain types do not allow you to switch to another program once you commence your studies. Therefore, it is critical to make sure you make a careful decision about the program you choose to attend, and seek the right kind of visa for that program. For universities, high schools, seminaries, conservatories, or other academic institutions, an F visa is appropriate. There are three kinds of F visas. Most common is the F-1 for international students who come to Georgia or another state to study at a university, but there are also F-2 visas for spouses or minor children of international students, and F-3 visas for border commuters.
The F-1 visa requires that you have a foreign residence, financial support, and strong home ties as evidenced by family, a job offer, or bank accounts. Immigration authorities want to make sure that you do not overstay your visa or use entry to immigrate. An F-1 visa cannot be used to study at any university besides the college or university for which it was issued.
Other rules apply to F-1 visa-holders. They must maintain full-time student status, complete their studies by a deadline, and may not work for less than 20 hours per week on campus. Moreover, they can only stay in the United States for 60 days after meeting the deadline to complete the program. An Optional Practical Training program is available, which permits visa holders to stay 12 months after getting their degree. Your spouse or children can accompany you with an F-2 visa, but they are not allowed to work.
If you are coming to the United States to participate in an educational program that is not a university program, there are other options. A J-1 Visa is appropriate for an exchange program. A B visa is appropriate for a recreational course not related to a degree program.
An M visa is appropriate for foreign nationals who are accepted into a 1-year vocational or technical school, as opposed to an academic program. Like F-1 visa-holders, an M-1 visa holder must maintain a full-time status. Under this kind of visa, there is a 30-day grace period after completion of your program before you must return to your country.
It can be tricky to navigate the complex immigration laws of the United States as a foreign student. Our Atlanta immigration lawyers are dedicated advocates for students who hope to study in the United States, or who encounter legal difficulties while studying here. We offer free, in-office consultations to prospective new clients. Contact us at (888) 472-5291 or submit your inquiry via our online contact form .