Tampa FL Student Visa Lawyer
If you’re coming to the U.S. to study, you’re probably well aware that the process for applying for a student visa can be quite complicated and time-consuming. A knowledgeable Tampa FL student visa lawyer at Little Law, P.A. can help you make informed decisions as well as file the correct visa application while avoiding costly mistakes.
Each year, the U.S. government grants around 600,000 student visas. Many of these students come here on an F-1 visa, which is designed primarily for academic students. Those interested in vocational programs should look at the M-1 visa program. J-1 visas are an option for those interested in participating in a cultural exchange program.
Features of F-1 Visas
If you’ve already been accepted to attend a school in the U.S., the F-1 visa application process is relatively simple. However, you must come to the U.S. in person as a full-time academic student who is enrolled in a program that leads to a degree or certificate of completion. There are restrictions on how many online classes you can take. You are limited to only three credits per semester.
Additionally, there are restrictions on those who are attending elementary schools or high schools. Those who are planning to attend elementary schools must choose one that is not publicly funded. The same applies for adult education programs. Those attending a publicly funded school must show the ability to pay the full cost of tuition prior to attending.
On an F-1 visa, you can:
- Transfer academic programs so long as you inform USCIS;
- Work, without special immigration authorization, on-campus part-time;
- Work off-campus with your school’s permission if you can show an economic need or the job prepares you for your field of study;
- Travel in and out of the U.S.; and,
- Bring spouses and children over to the U.S.
- Work full-time for up to one year after graduating.
Eligibility Rules for F-1 Visas
The first step in getting an F-1 visa is to gain acceptance into an accredited U.S. school. You will need to show that you plan on becoming a full-time student. In some cases, individuals use the student visa program fraudulently to get into the U.S. You should be able to prove that you have sufficient money to live in the U.S. without working. Your program must also lead to a diploma, degree, or certificate of some kind.
In order to complete your work, you will need to show that you can speak and read English well enough to engage in your coursework. In some cases, you can get away without understanding English if your school offers special instruction in your native language.
Lastly, you will need to show that you intend to return to your home country after the successful completion of your studies.
M-1 visas are designed for vocational students as opposed to academic students. Nonetheless, the requirements are quite similar. The first requirement is that you gain admission to a school that has received Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification. After acceptance, you will generally pay a deposit on your tuition and the school will then prepare a Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility and send you a copy. The application process should begin in advance of 120 days before the program starts.
You will apply for your visa at the U.S. consulate in your home country. Depending on where you live, the process of receiving a visa can be less than a week to several weeks. You can call your U.S. consulate over the telephone for more information on the required procedures.
What Do I Need to Bring to the Consulate?
- Form DS-160, which you can fill out online;
- Valid passport with an expiration date that is at least 6 months after the completion of your vocational program;
- Two-inch by two-inch photo;
- Receipt showing you have paid your MRV visa application fee and the reciprocity fee (if there is one);
- Receipt showing you have paid your SEVIS I-901 fee;
- Proof that you have the required academic credentials to attend the program;
- Acceptance letter from the school you plan to attend;
- The sealed copy of your I-20 sent to you by the school;
- Evidence that you can afford to live in the U.S. during the duration of the program; and,
- Documents showing that you plan on returning to your native country after the program is complete.
Unlike F-1 and M-1 visas, J-1 visas are part of an already existing exchange program that facilitates cultural exchange. Those who are interested in participating in these programs must find an organization willing to sponsor the exchange. The sponsoring organization will issue a Certificate of Eligibility. You should simply review this certificate for accuracy.
Afterward, you can bring this certificate to the U.S. consulate. Depending on the organization you are coming with, you will need to supply information that supports your stated objective.
Regardless of what student visa you are applying for, you will need to attend an interview at the consulate. The interviewer will review the contents of your application and ask you questions, such as: What are your plans once you get to the U.S.? What are your plans after you complete the program?
Remember that you applying for a non-immigrant visa and cannot plan to stay indefinitely in the U.S. on these types of visas. If your plan is to live and work long term in the U.S. after you complete your program, you will need to apply for a work permit or green card.
Consult a Tampa FL Student Visa Lawyer Today
The student visa application process can seem unnecessarily difficult for those who just want to come and study in the United States. But a skilled Tampa FL student visa lawyer can help to simplify and speed up the process. At Little Law, P.A., we can ensure that you gather the right documents, prepare for the consular interview, and are fully aware of your options. Call 813-279-1140 or send an email today to learn more.