Other Non-Immigrant Visas (Students)

There are a number of different types of temporary visas for those who want to stay in the United States for an extended period of time. One of the most common reasons for international visitors to need a temporary visa is because they want to study in the U.S.

There are several different types of student visas, but the most common categories are F and M visas.

What Is the Difference Between an F1 Visa and an M1 Visa?

Both of these visas are issued to people who only intend to attend school, then return to their native country, and not to stay in the United States permanently. However, many people who enter the country on an F1 or M1 visa eventually change their immigration status, and can even become full citizens of the U.S.

Students who attend full-time degree programs at schools approved by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) need to obtain an F1 Visa. These schools must be in compliance with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Students who hold F1 visas can transfer schools and still retain their visa.

Students who wish to enter the United States to enroll in vocation programs, such as mechanical studies, technical studies, flight school, culinary schools, or language programs, need to obtain an M1 visa.

This visa is initially granted for a one-year period but can be extended for up to three years. M1 visa holders generally can only transfer schools within the first six months of their program.

Procedure for Obtaining a Student Visa

The procedures for obtaining a visa can be extremely complicated. Anyone considering entering the United States to study should contact an experienced Philadelphia visa petition lawyer. The first step is to apply to an SEVP approved school in the United States. They will register you with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program, and you must pay the required fee.

The school will then send you a Form I-20, which you can bring to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for your visa. If you are married and/or have any children, they may come with you to the United States during the course of your study and must follow the same procedures – complete the Form I-20, etc. Family members need not pay the fee, however.

Once you fill out this form and visit the consulate or embassy, they will typically schedule you for an interview. This will also require a nominal fee.

Once your interview has been scheduled, you must gather certain documentation, such as your passport, photo, certificate of eligibility, and nonimmigrant visa application, among other things as determined by the consulate. They may request additional documentation, including transcripts and diplomas from schools that you have already attended.

After your interview and entry into the United States, you may apply to extend your stay. There are specific requirements regarding how this may be done, and it is highly recommended that you speak with a qualified Philadelphia immigration lawyer.

Limitations on Student Visas

If you have a student visa, you will not be permitted to work off-campus while studying, unless you have been granted special permission. Your visa may be “multiple entry,” meaning you can enter and exit the United States freely, or “single entry,” meaning you can only use it to enter the United States once.

Other Temporary Nonimmigrant Visas

In addition to student visas, there are many other types of temporary visas. Some of the more common temporary visas include:

A-1: Ambassador or diplomat.

A-2: Officials of foreign governments and their immediate family.

B-1: Business visitors.

B-2: Visitors for medical treatment or visitors for tourism.

H-1B: Specialty worker. This includes individuals employed in highly specialized occupations, including high fashion models.

H-1C: Nurses, to work for periods of up to 3 years where nurses are in high demand with low supply.

H-2A: Temporary agricultural workers.

I-1: Representatives of foreign press.

J-1: Exchange students.

K-1: Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, who enter the United States to get married.

O-1: Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

P-1: Internationally recognized athletes and celebrities.

P-3: Groups coming to present cultural or artistic performances.

R-1: Ministers and other religious workers.

S-5: Informants.

S-6: Informants providing information about terrorist activity.

T-1: Human trafficking victims.

U-1: Victims of physical or mental abuse (stemming from violations of U.S. laws, including domestic violence laws).

Philadelphia Visa Petition Lawyers at The Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Help Students Obtain Visas

Whether you are seeking an F-1, M-1, J-1 or other temporary visa, the experienced Philadelphia visa petition lawyers at The Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. can help you and your family navigate the process. We provide free, no obligation consultations. To learn more, call us today at 215-496-0690 or contact us online.