Students & Exchange Visitors Visas

F Visa: Students

Enables foreign students to engage in a full-time academic study in a university, school, academic institution, or in a language-training program that has been approved by the USCIS.  The foreign student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency, must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study, and must maintain a residence abroad, which he/she has no intention of giving up.

F1 students may not work off-campus during their first academic year.  After completing their first year, F1 student can engage in three types of employments: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT, either pre-completion or post-completion), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT).  Optional Practical Training program allows temporary paid work “directly related” to their fields of study. This work normally does not exceed 12 months in total. After a year at school, the student can utilize OPT part time when school is in session, full time when it is not or after graduation.

Students with degrees in STEM fields may be eligible for additional 17-month extensions of OPT.  During the OPT period, if a student works for an employer willing to sponsor them, he/she may begin the process of obtaining an H-1B non-immigrant work visa or a green card leading to permanent residence in the U.S.

J Visa: Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs

Authorizes foreign national to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.  J-1 nonimmigrants are sponsored by exchange programs that are designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science.  Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to: professors or scholars, research assistants, trainees, nannies/au pairs, and camp counselors.

B-1 / B-2: Visitors & Visa Waiver Program

The B-1 and B-2 visas provide for brief visits to the U.S. involving business (i.e. consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, or attend a business conference) or pleasure for an initial stay of less than 180 days. Nationals of certain countries may be permitted to visit the U.S. without a visa for up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  The current list of participating countries in the VWP can be found here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html#countries