F1 Students and Employment

If you’d like to study in the US, you will need a student visa. There are two nonimmigrant visa categories that are suitable for this purpose – F and M visas.

You may enter the US to study under the F-1 or M-1 visa category, provided you meet the following criteria:

·         You ae enrolled in an “academic” educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program

·         You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution

·         Your school is approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

·         You need to maintain a residence outside the US.

·         You need to be proficient in English or enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.

·         You need to have enough funds available to support yourself during the entire study period.

F-1 Student Visa

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) grants you entry into the US as a full-time student at an accredited academic institution – a university, college, conservatory, seminary, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution. It also enables you to in a language training program. Whatever the program and institution you choose to enroll in, it must be a program or course of study that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate. Your institution should also be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.

M-1 Student Visa

The M-1 visa (Vocational Student) category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training.



Students under the F-1 visa may not engage in employment outside the campus during the first academic year, but may accept employment on-campus subject to certain conditions and restrictions. There are various programs that enable F-1 students to seek employment outside the campus after the first academic year. F-1 students may engage in three types of employment outside the campus after their first year of study:

·         Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

·         Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)

·         Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)

M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.

F-1 and M-1 students can only engage in employment related to their area of study and must be authorized prior to starting any work by the Designated School Official (the person authorized to maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)) and USCIS.

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