Back to School and F1 Visa

It is that time of the year when parents are sending their children off to their first day of school, commemorating the moment with photos, smiles, and goals for the year. The first day of school is exciting for most, as the students endeavor upon a new school year. However, for some students in the U.S. being on a F1 student visa presents uncertainty and anxiety about their futures in the U.S. and beyond.

The F1 student visa is a visa that grants status for the duration of status of their status as a student. During this time, work is very limited and they must show that they are able to pay their tuition, among other requirements. They must work closely with their school to make sure their paperwork is properly filed and issued, so that they do not have any issues in the future traveling, or continuing their schoolwork.

A lot of the questions that students have are: how can I stay here after I graduate? Most are familiar with OPT (optional practical training) or CPT (curricular practical training), which are methods for students to gain work experience during or after graduating from school. However, they are limited in time. Therefore, it is very important that these students plan ahead, especially during their time they are obtaining their OPT or CPT. H1B visas are a popular option for those that graduate from school and invoke in a professional occupation. However, because there are only so many H1B visas that are available every year, many students are not given that opportunity, as they are not picked in the yearly lottery. For example, in fiscal year 2022, USCIS received over 300,000 applications, and only about 87,500 were chosen. So, less than a third of the applicants are chosen for H1B visas.

Depending on the student’s education and experience, other visas may be available, like a J1, H2B, or an O1. But it is vital to plan ahead as an application should be submitted before they run out of time on their F1 visas, and even through the 60-day grace period they are allowed to remain in the U.S. after their program completes. It is important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney that can assess all the different options for you, if you wish to remain in the U.S.