The F-1 Visa

The Nonimmigrant student visa

The F-1 Visa is a nonimmigrant student visa for a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. The program that the student is enrolled in, must be authorized in the United States and culminates in a degree, diploma, or a certificate.


As for employment statuses with the F visa, students may work on-campus for their first academic year, with some restrictions. After the first academic year, there are three types of off-campus employment, which must relate to the student’s academic program of study, that students may seek, which are: Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT).

On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security amended the F-1 visa regulation on the extension for OPT for students in STEM. OPT is a temporary employment status that students can maintain for up to 12 months. After the 12-month period is over, students that qualify for STEM (students who received degrees in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) can apply for an extension. The final rule now allows for a 24-month extension in comparison to the prior 17-month extension they received before the DHS’s ruling.

More Information

For a more detailed list of eligibility requirements and how to apply for a STEM OPT extension, please visit the USCIS website.

For additional information on F Visas, please contact us.

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