Whether you are planning to study in the United States as a high school student, a college student, or a vocational student, it's important to apply for the right visa, ahead of your trip to the United States. To discover some of the key differences between the primary two student visas that are currently available, simply continue reading. You'll also learn how to change the status of your visa from a simple F-1 student visa to a dual intent visa if you wish to remain in the United States past the expiry date of your temporary student visa.
Before You Apply For A Visa
In order to be eligible to apply for a student visa to study and live in the United States for a set period of time, you'll first need to be accepted to study by a specific school or program. For example, if you wish to study at a US high school as a foreign exchange student, you may want to apply to an international student exchange program. As reputable student exchange programs can organize a high school for you to study at, as well as a host family to take care of you, during your time in the United States. Alternatively, if you're a college student, you may want to apply as a potential foreign exchange program at multiple colleges in the United States. To see if you are accepted by any of your short-listed colleges.
It's also well worth noting that foreign nationals who do not have permanent residency in the United States are prohibited from studying at US elementary schools and middle schools. If you are not a US resident or citizen you'll also be barred from enrolling in fully-funded public programs for adult learners.
The Two Types Of Student Visas That You Can Apply For
There are two key student visas that you can apply for as a non-US resident or citizen, these visas are the F-1 visa and the M-1 visa. The majority of foreign students who study in the United States enter the country on an F-1 visa.
F-1 Student Visa
You'll be required to obtain an F-1 student visa if your weekly course load in the United States will exceed 18 hours per week. You'll also need to apply for an F-1 visa if your goal is to study at an accredited US college or high school. Alternatively, if you wish to study at an English language school in order to become fluent in English, you'll also need to fill out an application for an F-1 visa. Studying English in the United States at an accredited language school is an excellent idea as by living in an English-speaking country, you'll be able to practice the English you learn during your classes on a day-to-day basis. Which should accelerate your English comprehension.
Studying At Public High School Vs Private High School
If you're applying to study as a foreign exchange student in a US high school or are the parent of a student you dreams of enjoying an authentic US high school experience, it's well worth noting that the regulations for foreign students at public high schools and private high schools are different. While accepted private school students and public school students must apply for F-1 visas before their trips, private school students have one advantage, they are permitted to study in the United States for longer than 12 months. While foreign exchange students who choose to attend public high schools must leave the country within 12 months of their date of entry.
If you do opt to attend a public high school, your chosen high school must prove that you have paid for the full unsubsidized cost of your education in the United States.
M-1 Student Visa
If you do not plan to enroll in an academic program and instead plan to enroll in a vocational program at a US institution, do not fill out an F-1 application form, as you'll need to fill out and submit an M-1 application form instead. For example, if you wish to enroll in an art course that is not affiliated with a college program, you should fill out an M-1 application, instead of an F-1 application.
How To Extend Your Stay In The US With A F-1 Visa
When you go through the interview process of applying for an F-1 visa, you'll be questioned about your intention, when it comes to studying in the United States. It is your interviewer's job to figure out whether you will voluntarily leave the United States at the end of your study, without any trouble. However, if you are a college student and not a high school student, you are still allowed to apply for a green card, before your student visa expires. Just keep in mind that a low percentage of foreign students obtain green cards through this method.
To attempt to stay in the country as a permanent resident, without marrying a US citizen, you'll need to adjust the status of your visa to a dual intent visa. A dual intent visa is both a study visa and a work visa that will allow you to apply for permanent residency after a set period of time has passed. For example, if you complete a college degree in the United States and prove that you're able to get a job in the United States, you may be granted a dual intent visa. You may be interested to learn that if you study in the United States as a college student, you can legally remain in the country for a further 12 months if you enroll in a curriculum practical training program or an optional practical training program.
Curriculum Training Programs & Optional Practical Training Programs
If you are an approved F-1 student you can take part in a curriculum training program through your educational institution which will allow you to work as a teaching assistant or a research assistant. You can even go on to become an associate professor. If you are interested in enrolling in an optional practical training program, you can gain valuable job experience in a field related to your degree for 12 months after your initial visa expires.
So if you wish to study in the United States in the near future, it's well worth applying for an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa and contacting an experienced attorney to ensure that you follow the visa application process correctly. In order to increase your chances of having your student visa approved.