Benefits of the F-1 Student Visa
First-year international students in the U.S. can work on campus for up to 20 hours a week and 40 hours during vacations and breaks.
- There are no annual visa limitations for the F-1, so as long as you can be accepted into a study program, you can apply for the F-1 Student Visa.
- Any source of funding is considered acceptable. It can be personal funds, family funds, public scholarships or industry funding. The F-1 Visa allows you the flexibility to travel in and out of the U.S. throughout your study program. F-1 visas are provided for a “Duration of Status,” which is valid for the entire length of your study program, generally, it’s 60 months.
- Allowed to work during studies, although you must apply for work authorization if you wish to be employed off-campus.
- Allowed to work after studies for up to 12 -24 months (depending on the field of study).
- The student’s family, including their spouse and children under the age of 21 can come to the U.S. on an F-2 visa. The F-2 dependents will have the same period of authorized stay as the F-1 Student.
- Although family members cannot work in F-2 status, spouses and children are able to study at SEVP-certified schools in the U.S. as long as they are not enrolled full-time.
- Students as young as six years old can be issued an F-1 visa.
F-1 Student Visa Work Permit
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)CPT allows international students to gain employment training and work in paid internships to further their studies. Students have a chance to work full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week), earning money while also gaining work experience in their field of study. It is important for the international F-1 Student to remember that if you complete 12 months of CPT while studying in the U.S., you will not be eligible to apply for or obtain OPT later.
Optional Practical Training (OPT)OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to your major or area of study. F-1 Students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT before completing their academic studies, called pre-completion OPT, and/or after graduation, for post-completion OPT. Any pre-completion OPT will count against the 12 months of post-completion OPT.
STEM OPT ExtensionIf you have earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, then you are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of your OPT. To qualify, the F-1 Student must:
-Have received a STEM degree included in the STEM Program List,
-Working with an employer who participates in E-Verify, and
-The initial OPT was based on your STEM degree program.
It’s best to check with their DSO to confirm if their degree program is on the STEM Program List.
Continue following this series below: