Frequently Asked Questions - F Visa

OPT (6)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Under the prior rules, an F-1 student could be authorized to receive up to a total of 12 months of practical training either before (pre-) and/or after (post-) completion of studies.

STEM (3)

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The term often refers to the Designated Degree program requiring a degree in one of these fields of study. STEM programs, in recognition of their importance to US interests, are awarded special consideration in certain areas under US immigration laws.

  1. Grounds for Rejection for B and F Visa
  2. Handling of the Forms I-20 and DS-2019 by USCIS ELIS
  3. Endorsed Form I-20
  4. Form I-20 and Applying for State or Federal Benefits
  5. Form I-20 and Work Authorization
  6. Form I-20 valid without a stamp
  7. SEVIS Form I-20
  8. I-20 Terminated
  9. F-1 or F-2 Extension—Leaving Country Prior to Visa Expiration
  10. H-1B petition and Quota
  11. F-2 to H-4 Visa
  12. COS from H-4 to F-1 visa
  13. H1-B to F-1
  14. I got my BSN in the US
  15. My spouse working illegally
  16. F-1 reinstatement
  17. Lost old EAD card for another OPT application
  18. Student visa
  19. F1 visa to business visa or H1/L1
  20. F1 and OPT Expired but 60 days not up
  21. Need information
  22. Status change from F1 to H1b
  23. Visiting Canada on a student visa
  24. F1 visa to H1-b
  25. B-1/B-2 visa to F-2 visa
  26. F1 student (wife of a GC holder) - pregnant
  27. Time Frame for Green Card
  28. Confused - B-1 to F-1 change
  29. Student Visa
  30. Travel during 90 days of OPT without Job
  31. Sponsoring daughter over 21 on F1 status
  32. F-2 visa
  33. Working after studying
  34. F1 Visa Expired on OPT
  35. Social Security Card -- F-1 visa
  36. F-1 working off-campus
  37. F1 and starting a business
  38. F1 visa denial
  39. Traveling on OPT-F1
  40. May B-1/B-2, E-1, E-2, F-1, H-1, J-1, L-1 O-1 visa or TN holder apply for green card?
  41. Visa after B-1 to F-1 conversion
  42. F-1 visa stamp, H-4 pending
  43. From H-4 to F-1
  44. Status, authorized period of stay and unlawful presence
  45. Can B visa holder convert to F or other status?
  46. Can F/J holders apply for green card?
  47. Turning 21 - do I have to convert to F-1 from H-4?
  48. Do advanced degrees help in marriage-based green card?
  49. Can H-4/F-2 holders perform volunteer work?
  50. F-1 OPT - No Job
  51. B visa while GC pending or similar situation
  52. Using B visa with F-1
  53. Changing Back to F-1 Student Status After Filing for Green Card
  54. Immigration Impact of Crimes, Misdemeanor Conviction and Petty Offense Exception
  55. Effect of Tourist Visa Denial on Student Visa
  56. Can I Travel Back On F-1 Visa If My Reinstatement Is Denied?
  57. Is CPT an Acceptable Way of Working?
  58. Can H-4/F-2, etc. non-work visa holders volunteer?
F-1 OPT Requirements

1. Once you receive a recommendation for post-completion OPT from your Designated School Official (DSO) to pursue OPT, you must apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) with USCIS within 30 days. Additionally, you may file up to 90 days prior to your program end-date and not later than 60 days after your program end date. 

SEVIS Terminated

Generally speaking, you will need to demonstrate that the termination was erroneous. Ask your DSO for a letter explaining that. In addition, you can add your own statement/affidavit explaining the circumstances. Your

Form I-20 and Work Authorization

A student should have no negative impact on off-campus employment if s/he has the USCIS-issued Employment Authorization Document and a Form I-20.

F-1 or F-2 Extension—Leaving Country Prior to Visa Expiration

You will need a new visa only if you return after August 2013. Check with your DSO to make sure you have all the appropriate requirements completed.

Two-year home residency requirement

Yes.  F visa is NOT forbidden.  But you will not be able to get an H-1, L-1 or green card unless you address the HRR through compliance or waiver.

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

You have two choices that I can see: apply for reinstatement or go outside USA and reapply for a visa.

Out of F-1 visa status

You can just apply for your green card. Do not travel outside USA until you get your green card (or travel only as advised by your lawyers).

RN F-1 visa

You will have several years of wait in the green card process.

I130/485 for wife

I do not see any problem if the 130/485 is filed during the 60 days following the F-1. In any case, she can and should apply for OPT.

MAVNI to F-1

You need to get back with your International Students Office and see what they recommend.

Travel overseas on F-1

I do not know the details of your case or your SEVIS status. If your International Students Advisor is experienced in immigration law (most of them are), you should take their advice but ask them to tell you the reason.

STEM OPT Extension for Consulting or Staffing companies
Changing Back to F-1 Student Status After Filing for Green Card
Green card pending conversion to and from H-4 EAD – H-1; Filing green card while in F-1 status

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://youtu.be/H_VV9kV_lOg?t=65 

Withdrawing one pending petition (H-4) when another is (F-1) approved

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question. 

https://youtu.be/F0YZD8zWm88?t=72

J-2 or J-1 with 212(e) HRR converting to F-1 student

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://youtu.be/ZvUVIGTM-Kk?t=520

H-4 EAD Expediting Possible?

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.

Sister's Green Card

Siblings Green Card is like  planting mango trees, in India we used to have saying that mango trees takes so  long to bring fruit that one generation plants the tree and the second generation eats the mangoes. It's kind of that for sibling cases, it takes 13 years for the Green Card to come through and there is no way we can expedite that Green Card.

Immigration Impact of Crimes, Misdemeanor Conviction and Petty Offense Exception

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp4B1_qhvtM#t=2538

 

FAQ Transcript

Can I Travel Back On F-1 Visa If My Reinstatement Is Denied?

In my view, it is unsafe to travel on an existing visa after being out of status. If they become aware of your status problems, CBP, upon returning, can turn you back at the airport, or worse, even formally deny you admission thereby laying a five-year bar against reentry.

How to Enter The USA to Start A Business And Then Continue

There are several issues that should be examined before you can make an informed decision.

1.  B visa or ESTA does not allow you to “work:”

Reentry for F-1 Nonimmigrants Traveling Outside the United States

This section of the FAQ applies to continuing F-1 students who travel outside the United States for five months or less.

OPT to H-1B

A1. You can consider going back to school or B-1/B-2 status. There is information on our blog on B-1/B-2 to maintain status.

O-1B Extension and Authorized Period of Stay

As long as you had filed your extension application before expiration of the current status, you are not illegal as long as the case is pending. You are in

OPT - H4 - H1

1. Your H-4 application must reach USCIS before expiration of your OPT (although it could be argued that you have an extra 60 days, but I stay away from having to argue).
2. No different than filing a new H-1.
3. You could have a difficult time entering if cutting too close the end, although, legally you are entitled to it as long as you have a job in your field that you have been performing on your OPT.

STEM OPT Extension for Consulting or Staffing companies
Green card pending conversion to and from H-4 EAD – H-1; Filing green card while in F-1 status

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://youtu.be/H_VV9kV_lOg?t=65 

Reentry for F-1 Nonimmigrants Traveling Outside the United States

This section of the FAQ applies to continuing F-1 students who travel outside the United States for five months or less.

Change of Visa From H-1B to F-2

You must be married to the F-1 holder in order to be eligible for F-2 status.  Fiances do not qualify for derivative status.

F-1 or F-2 Extension—Leaving Country Prior to Visa Expiration

You will need a new visa only if you return after August 2013. Check with your DSO to make sure you have all the appropriate requirements completed.

F-2 to H-4 Visa

If you are subject to H-1 quota, to get status within USA, you must maintain status till September 30. So, it appears you may have to apply for H-4 as well as H-1. Your lawyers can help you figure out the timing. Applying for H-4 now should not be an issue. But move quickly. You can file for H-4 online. Fairly easy.

Handling of the Forms I-20 and DS-2019 by USCIS ELIS

USCIS will accept a photocopy or scanned electronic version of a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019. If USCIS needs to review the original document, USCIS will ask you to provide the original document. USCIS will adjudicate the request electronically. Although the student will receive the approval notice (Form I-797) through the mail, the scanned copy of the Form I-20 will not be stamped and returned. As of Aug. 10, 2012, U.S.

Endorsed Form I-20

The Form I-20 is endorsed when it is signed by a DSO, which allows the student to travel internationally or apply for employment authorization.

Form I-20 and Applying for State or Federal Benefits

An unstamped Form I-20 should have no negative impact on applications for state or federal benefits, including driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards. USCIS is actively communicating with Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) to ensure their understanding that a Form I-20 does not require a stamp to be valid.

Form I-20 valid without a stamp

Yes. A stamp is not required on the Form I-20. Some state and federal agencies require foreign students to present a Form I-20 to identify the end date for the student’s program. However, a stamp is not required for this purpose.

SEVIS Form I-20

Foreign exchange students will receive a Form I-20 from the DSO of the educational institution that accepted the student to study in the United States. That student must have a Form I-20 to apply for a visa, to enter the United States, and to apply for benefits.

I-20 Terminated

1. You will have to look for another school/visa.
2. As long as the school is authorized to issue I-20, you can apply for an F-1 visa. But make sure the school is not running into problems like Tri-Valley University did.

F-1 OPT Requirements

1. Once you receive a recommendation for post-completion OPT from your Designated School Official (DSO) to pursue OPT, you must apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) with USCIS within 30 days. Additionally, you may file up to 90 days prior to your program end-date and not later than 60 days after your program end date. 

OPT to H-1B

A1. You can consider going back to school or B-1/B-2 status. There is information on our blog on B-1/B-2 to maintain status.

STEM OPT Extension for Consulting or Staffing companies
Grounds for Rejection for B and F Visa

The grounds for rejection for B and F visa are usually the "immigrant intent." If indeed that is the reason for your visa rejection, I do not see any difference between B and F applications.

Handling of the Forms I-20 and DS-2019 by USCIS ELIS

USCIS will accept a photocopy or scanned electronic version of a valid Form I-20 or DS-2019. If USCIS needs to review the original document, USCIS will ask you to provide the original document. USCIS will adjudicate the request electronically. Although the student will receive the approval notice (Form I-797) through the mail, the scanned copy of the Form I-20 will not be stamped and returned. As of Aug. 10, 2012, U.S.

Endorsed Form I-20

The Form I-20 is endorsed when it is signed by a DSO, which allows the student to travel internationally or apply for employment authorization.

Form I-20 and Applying for State or Federal Benefits

An unstamped Form I-20 should have no negative impact on applications for state or federal benefits, including driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards. USCIS is actively communicating with Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) to ensure their understanding that a Form I-20 does not require a stamp to be valid.

Form I-20 and Work Authorization

A student should have no negative impact on off-campus employment if s/he has the USCIS-issued Employment Authorization Document and a Form I-20.

Form I-20 valid without a stamp

Yes. A stamp is not required on the Form I-20. Some state and federal agencies require foreign students to present a Form I-20 to identify the end date for the student’s program. However, a stamp is not required for this purpose.

SEVIS Form I-20

Foreign exchange students will receive a Form I-20 from the DSO of the educational institution that accepted the student to study in the United States. That student must have a Form I-20 to apply for a visa, to enter the United States, and to apply for benefits.

I-20 Terminated

1. You will have to look for another school/visa.
2. As long as the school is authorized to issue I-20, you can apply for an F-1 visa. But make sure the school is not running into problems like Tri-Valley University did.

F-1 or F-2 Extension—Leaving Country Prior to Visa Expiration

You will need a new visa only if you return after August 2013. Check with your DSO to make sure you have all the appropriate requirements completed.

H-1B petition and Quota

If the employer is exempt from the quota, they may apply at any time. If they are subject to the quota, they can file the H-1B petition to reach USCIS no earlier than April 1, 2013, with a requested start date of employment no earlier than October 1, 2013.

F-2 to H-4 Visa

If you are subject to H-1 quota, to get status within USA, you must maintain status till September 30. So, it appears you may have to apply for H-4 as well as H-1. Your lawyers can help you figure out the timing. Applying for H-4 now should not be an issue. But move quickly. You can file for H-4 online. Fairly easy.

COS from H-4 to F-1 visa

You do NOT need USCIS approval to apply for F-1 visa. Just apply for F-1 visa during your visit to France. Ask the school to explain the formalities to you. By the way, if you leave USA during a COS request, the COS is deemed abandoned.


 

H1-B to F-1

If you are maintaining H-1 status on the date your H-1 to F-1 change of status application is received by USCIS, you can apply for H-1 to F-1 change of status within USA. Check with your school. They should be able to guide you.

I got my BSN in the US

Your employer's role in this process is limited. You can pay for all expenses yourself. The length of the process is determined by the country of birth.

My spouse working illegally

You are not responsible for your spouse's illegal employment. I don't see how the govt. can hold otherwise.

F-1 reinstatement

As far as I know, reinstatement requires exceptional circumstances. A sprain may not be it.

Lost old EAD card for another OPT application

First, discuss the possible solutions with your international students office. Second, call USCIS customer service and ask for solutions. Third, provide whatever you have with a full explanation to USCIS when filing the new OPT.

Student visa
F1 visa to business visa or H1/L1

If you qualify, H and L visas are certainly more secure than an F visa.

F1 and OPT Expired but 60 days not up

This is a common misunderstanding. Starting a PERM-based green card does not give you the right to stay in USA.

Need information

Generally speaking, getting a new visa endorsement should not be a problem. You cannot get a visa within USA.

Status change from F1 to H1b

You are cap exempt and should be able to change status OR get H-1 visa stamping right away. No waiting till 1 Oct.

Visiting Canada on a student visa
F1 visa to H1-b

Since the H-1 quota is over, OPT is your best option as far as I can tell.

B-1/B-2 visa to F-2 visa
F1 student (wife of a GC holder) - pregnant

For various reasons, I usually see no point in applying for a green card through a permanent resident spouse while you are on an F-1. About taking a break, the F status requires you to attend school full time unless there is a medical necessity. You need to discuss that with your international students advisor.

Time Frame for Green Card

The time frame for employment based green cards depends upon two things: your country of chargeability (usually the country you were born in) and the category of green card through which you apply: EB1, EB2, EB3.

Confused - B-1 to F-1 change

You should be able to get your OPT and even an H-1 and a green card. But if ever you want to travel outside USA, make sure you discuss the facts of the case with a competent lawyer. You have to make sure you have a good chance of getting a

Student Visa

Not if you are in USA without status.

Travel during 90 days of OPT without Job
Sponsoring daughter over 21 on F1 status

I am assuming you are asking me whether a green card holder can apply for a green card for an over-21 child. The answer is yes, as long she is unmarried, you can. But she cannot stay in USA based only upon the fact that you have applied for her.


Check out the Visa Bulletin: http://www.immigration.com/visa-bulletin


 

F-2 visa

I do not believe F-2 visa holders have any option for work while they are in F-2 status.

Working after studying

There are several different kinds of work authorizations like OPT, CPT, etc. Contact your International Students Office.

F1 Visa Expired on OPT

You will need to get the visa stamping done again.

Social Security Card -- F-1 visa

You need to discuss your options with your International Students Office. Ask them also about curricular practical training, where you are allowed to work for credits.

F-1 working off-campus

I do not believe there is any law that specifically addresses this issue, but I believe all work done on US soil is likely to be considered illegal.

F1 and starting a business

As far as I know, theoretically, you could be working for yourself on OPT as long as your work is related to your area of study. I think I read that in one of the FAQ issued by USCIS. But you will not be able to continue doing that on H-1.

F1 visa denial

214(b) denial is based upon a suspicion that you have no intention of returning to your home country. This ground is almost impossible to overcome when you are an expatriate, but you can try. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but I doubt this will work.

Traveling on OPT-F1

Normally, travel to "contiguous territories" (like Canada and Mexico) does not require a visa when the trip is less than 30 days AND you do not happen to be a national of one of the eight countries that US govt. looks upon with some suspicion. But there can be immigration problems. Trip to any one of the 50 states presents no special issue.

May B-1/B-2, E-1, E-2, F-1, H-1, J-1, L-1 O-1 visa or TN holder apply for green card?

One of the questions I am asked quite frequently is whether or not an E-1/E-2 visa holder can apply for a green card and not jeopardize his or her E status. The answer is PROBABLY yes he can.

In the E visa context, this is what the govt says:

Quote:
9 FAM 41.51 N15 INTENT TO DEPART UPON TERMINATION OF STATUS
(TL:VISA-404; 04-29-2002)

Visa after B-1 to F-1 conversion

Chances of getting an F-1 visa are remote. I would want you to reconsider the trip. The biggest problem here is, unless you declared to the consulate that you intended to convert from B to F status, they are likely to consider you to have misrepresented your true intention when you obtained/traveled on B visa.

F-1 visa stamp, H-4 pending

1. H-4 is her personal application. All she needs to do is send a letter to USCIS stating "I hereby withdraw my application for H-4." Attach a copy of the fee receipt for H-4 application that comes from USCIS. I see no need for you spend money on legal fees, but that is your choice.

2. If nothing else works and she does get the H-4 approval, just have her step outside USA and reenter on F-1 visa and get a new I-94 from CBP at the airport.

3. Generally speaking, no.

From H-4 to F-1

1. No. An I-539 is used if you want to change status within USA.

2. You need to check with your school about CPT. The requirements for OPT as I recall are two full semesters on F-1.

3. No one can predict that. Sorry.

Status, authorized period of stay and unlawful presence

Status, authorized period of stay and unlawful presence are three VERY important concepts in US immigration laws with far reaching implications. The nuances in these concepts are so intricate that they can trip up even my fellow-lawyers. I see issues in this all the time.

Here is a brief primier to enable you to understand the basics. This is by no means an exhaustive analysis.

Status

Can B visa holder convert to F or other status?

While it is permissible to change from one status to another from within U.S., it may not always be advisable.

Typically, when someone enters the U.S., supposedly for a short visit (e.g. B-1 or B-2) and then tries to change it to a longer term visa (F-1, L-1, H-1, etc.), USCIS often frowns upon it (and may not grant it), but the consulates invariably frown upon it. My recommendation in most of these cases is to avoid this type of change. If you have already obtained the change, it may be very difficult to procure a visa whenever you need to travel abroad.

Can F/J holders apply for green card?
Turning 21 - do I have to convert to F-1 from H-4?

 I do not see any way around filing an F-1.

Do advanced degrees help in marriage-based green card?

 1. Advanced degrees do not help in a family-based green card.

Can H-4/F-2 holders perform volunteer work?

The following discussion applies to all visas where working is not permitted. Most typical examples of these types of visas are F-2 and H-4. The question often arises whether or not it is legal for such folks to volunteer their time or are they constrained to stay at home.

Quote: Q. May an H-4 (or F-2 type visa) holder volunteer for work to provide charitable service, to gain experience or just to stay busy?

F-1 OPT - No Job

Your best bet is to get your dependent visa stamp from a consulate as soon as possible. That should take care of any potential future problems.

B visa while GC pending or similar situation

This is upto the discretion of the consulate and then again upto CBP when you land in USA. Consulates have the discretion to issue you a B visa - despite your presumed immigrant intent - if they are convinced that you will return. This is true for all cases where a B (or F or similar) visa is sought while GC is pending or could be pending.

Using B visa with F-1

My assumption is that you are still on F-1 and in USA. If this is correct, you cannot use your B visa within USA.

While in USA, your stay and status is controlled exclusively by your I-94.

You can, however, try to reenter USA on B visa but after having stayed here for so long, a reentry is likely to be denied.

If, you are outside USA and have been out for a while (like a year or more), I think you can still use that B visa and try to enter USA.

Changing Back to F-1 Student Status After Filing for Green Card
Immigration Impact of Crimes, Misdemeanor Conviction and Petty Offense Exception

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp4B1_qhvtM#t=2538

 

FAQ Transcript

Effect of Tourist Visa Denial on Student Visa

When the tourist visa denial is based upon a possible intent to immigrate (also known as INA Section 214(b) denial), it CAN be a problem for student visa.

Can I Travel Back On F-1 Visa If My Reinstatement Is Denied?

In my view, it is unsafe to travel on an existing visa after being out of status. If they become aware of your status problems, CBP, upon returning, can turn you back at the airport, or worse, even formally deny you admission thereby laying a five-year bar against reentry.

Is CPT an Acceptable Way of Working?

This is tricky. Usually CPT in the first semester is looked upon with suspicion by USCIS, unless: 1. yours is a graduate program; 2. the practical training is integral to the academic program; and 3. the employer has signed a co-operative agreement with the school.

Can H-4/F-2, etc. non-work visa holders volunteer?

This question is raised often and debated much amongst lawyers focusing their practice on employment-based immigration.  I have a call scheduled with a corporate client who is considering the legality of accepting a volunteer in their for-profit IT business.