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Getting a Student Visa (F-1 or M-1)

f-1 and m-1 visa lawyer

F-1 and M-1 Visa Lawyer in St. Charles, Missouri

When an opportunity presents itself, we want to seize it, just like when we are given an opportunity to study in the United States. Of course, in order to take advantage of such an opportunity, you’ll need to get a student visa.

If you are planning to get one, our Gateway Immigration Law Firm in St. Charles, Missouri, is full of skilled immigration lawyers who can help you obtain a student visa. We handled various immigration cases and responded to them with competence. That is possible because of our years of experience in law practice and extensive knowledge acquired along the way.

Together let’s make your dream a reality. Contact us today!

Why do I need an f-1 and m-1 visa lawyer to get a Student Visa?

While it is true that the procedure of obtaining a student visa may be simpler than others, the problem here lies in proving that you have the intention to go back to your home country. 

Remember that a student visa is only valid for the duration of the authorized period of stay. As such, the US government will have to ensure you return home. This part of the application can be challenging if you do not know or don’t have the basic documents to meet such requirements.

Student visa lawyers can provide appropriate legal advice on which documents you need to present. Not only that, they can guide you every step of the way. You don’t need to go through the process alone.

In addition, our law office in St. Charles, Missouri, also engages in different practice areas, such as:

Schedule a consultation with us today!

What is a Student Visa?

f-1 and m-1 visa lawyer

Someone who wants to enter the United States must get either an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. As a student, you will need to obtain a student visa, which allows you to stay in the United States to study.

Fortunately, two types of student visas will enable you to study in the country. The type of student visa appropriate for you will depend on your course of study and the type of institution you want to attend. 

Furthermore, there is no yearly quota for student visas, so you won’t have to worry about a long wait.

Is it possible for a student visa holder to work?

Generally, an F-1 student cannot work off-campus during their first academic year, but may take on-campus employment under specific circumstances and limits. 

Moreover, in the subsequent years after the 1st academic year, the F-1 student may participate in an off-campus job, but only under the following conditions:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)

In terms of off-campus work, an F-1 student may be permitted to work in specific circumstances (e.g., economic hardship), while an M-1 student may only engage in practical training after completing their studies.

Consult a Missouri F-1 and M-1 visa lawyer to discuss your employment plans and ask for the available work options for you.

What’s the difference between F-1 and M-1?

F-1 Student Visa

This type of student visa is for those enrolling in an academic program or course at a government-approved educational institution that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate.

Here are the following educational institutions that the F-1 visa applies to:

  • University or college
  • High School
  • Private elementary school
  • Seminary
  • Conservatory
  • Other academic institution, including a language training program

M-1 Student Visa

If you want to pursue a vocational course, an M-1 student visa is the right one for you. An M-1 student visa allows you to study full-time at government-accredited technical, vocational, or nonacademic institutions.

How do I qualify for a student visa?

When it comes to eligibility, both have the same qualifications. You must meet the following requirements to be eligible:

Be accepted and enrolled in an appropriate institution, such as an academic program, a language-training program, or a vocational program. 

Keep in mind that student visas are only provided to students who will attend U.S. institutions that have already acquired USCIS clearance for international student enrolment.

Check the Department of Homeland Security School Search webpage to see which schools in the United States are certified.

Be enrolled as a full-time student.

Another thing to remember is that you must enroll in a full course of study, which means that you are expected to be a full-time rather than a part-time student. On the other hand, the definition of a full course of study differs based on the type of program you’re enrolled in.

Here is the definition of a full course of study depending on the type of program:

  • Undergraduate college or university programs – Enrolled in at least 12 semesters or quarter hours of instruction per term.
  • Postgraduate college or university programs – The educational institution in which you are enrolled determines the full-time study requirement. For example, a graduate student only working on a dissertation without taking classes may be considered a full-time student if the school approves it. 
  • Any other language, liberal arts, fine arts, or nonvocational training programs – At least 18 clock hours per week are required if most of the program instruction is in the classroom. If it is not in the classroom (for example, laboratory work), it must be at least 22 clock hours each week.
  • High school, middle school, and primary school programs – Students must attend the minimum number of class hours per week required by the school to make standard progress toward graduation.
  • Technical, vocational, or other nonacademic programs – If the courses are mainly classroom-based, you must take at least 18 clock hours each week. If not, 22 hours per week is the minimum.

Is it still confusing? Call an F-1 and M-1 visa lawyer in St. Charles, Missouri to help determine the type of program you are in and help establish it in your application. 

You must demonstrate English competence or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency.

That is important since English is the standard language used in the country. If English is not your first language, you must pass an English proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language.’

However, it is essential to note that schools have the authority to choose who is and is not qualified to study in their institution. Your chosen school will inform you of the type of test necessary and how to take it.

Even if your preferred school is willing to enroll you, you should not be complacent.  U.S. consulate authorities still have the right to deny your application if they consider that your English is inadequate. Preparing for the consular interview in advance is also preferable, as this is when a consular official will examine your English competence.

You must have adequate financial resources for the duration of your study or program.

You have to prove that you are financially capable of supporting yourself throughout your study in the United States. You must show that you have enough resources to pay all first-year expenses and have a stable source of funds available to cover the following years.

You can do this by having your parents or relatives commit to financing your education fully. You can put it in writing, and you should provide proof of their capability to pay for your education and other related expenses.

It is better to have an experienced St. Charles F-1 and M-1 visa lawyer on your side to help you gather the required documents to establish such crucial requirements.

You have the intention of going back home.

You must remember that a student visa is for staying in the United States temporarily to study. The U.S. authorities will need to know that you intend to return to your home country once you finish studying. They will ask for proof demonstrating your plan to return home, such as property, valued items, or a job offer awaiting your return.

How Can I Apply for a Student Visa?

Step 1: Get a SEVIS Form I-120.

You must be enrolled in a SEVP-approved institution in the United States to apply for a student visa. You will be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee after the institution accepts your registration.

Then, you will need to secure Form I-20 or a Certificate of Eligibility from the SEVP-approved institution. This document will be asked by the authorities later.

Step 2: Apply for a Student Visa

The process will depend on where you apply for a student visa.

Consular Processing

If you are applying from outside the United States, you will need to go through consular processing or apply at your country’s closest local United States consulate. It is essential to note the process may differ based on the U.S. consulate; however, the basic procedure is as follows:

Prepare and submit an online application. 

You should first submit an online visa application or DS-160 at the State Department’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website. 

Please make sure to have your SEVIS ID (or form I-20), passport, travel itinerary, a U.S. passport-style photo (digital copy), your résumé or curriculum vitae, dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, and other necessary documents or information.

After submitting your application, print the confirmation page and bring it to your scheduled interview.

Schedule an interview. 

The next thing you should do is schedule an interview appointment at the nearest local U.S. embassy in your home country

In general, you will not need to schedule an interview if you are under age 13 or above 80. However, consular authorities have the discretion to compel a discussion of any applicant, regardless of age.

The waiting time may vary on your place and the type of visa. You may check it out on the Department of State’s website.

Pay the Visa Application Fee and SEVIS Fee. 

Pay the appropriate fees for your application and SEVIS. For application fees, your U.S. consulate will give you instructions on how to pay them. For SEVIS fees, go to ICE’s website for SEVIS payments.

Gather the necessary documents. 

Before your visa interview, you must prepare and bring the following:

  • Your valid passport
  • A printed copy of the form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt (if applicable)
  • A U.S. passport-style photo
  • Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20 or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20.
  • Other necessary documents such as diplomas, transcript of record, proof of intent to return, proof of how you will pay for your education, and other related expenses.
Attend your consular interview. 

During the interview, the consular officer will verify the accuracy of the papers you provided and the application you submitted, which will help them to decide whether you are qualified for a student visa. They will also ask you how long you will stay in the country. So be prepared and review your documents for consistency.

As part of the application process, they will scan your fingerprint (ink-free and digital) during the interview. Remember that the agency may submit your application for additional administrative processing if the consular official deems it necessary.

Changing of Status to F-1 or M-1

If you are in the United States, you can ask to change your status. To be eligible, you must meet the following general conditions:

  • A U.S. government-approved school accepted you and have given you a Certificate of Eligibility (Form SEVIS I-20).
  • You legally enter the country.
  • You must never have illegally worked in the country.
  • You are admissible
  • Your I-94 date has not passed

Visit the USCIS website to learn further how to change your status.

If you plan to apply within the United States, get the expertise of student visa lawyers from Gateway Immigration Law Firm to maximize the chances that your application will be approved.

Step 3: Student Visa Holders Enter the United States

This applies to those outside the United States. 

A CBP officer will inspect your paperwork and visa at the border or any U.S. port of entry. When everything is in order, a CBP agent will issue an entry stamp or a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.

Call our St. Charles Student Visa Lawyers Now!

In any immigration process, you will undeniably face risks and challenges. You must prepare to confront them, and face them head-on. What better way to prepare yourself than to have an immigration lawyer on your side? Remember that the success of your application will mainly be determined by how well you prepare.

At our Missouri law office, we take your immigration matters seriously. We are here to provide you with competent legal assistance and help you achieve your immigration goal.

Talk with us about your immigration case today!

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