There’s a reason why more than 1 million international students choose to study in the U.S. each year.
Pursuing your education in the U.S. provides not only exceptional educational opportunities, but a chance to make lifelong friends and professional contacts enriching your life both personally and professionally. Studying in the U.S. also provides training and employment opportunities for eligible international students.
There are 3 different types of student visas in the U.S. These include the F-1 (academic), J-1 (exchange visitor), and M-1 (vocational). Before you can apply for the visa, you must apply for admission to a program that is SEVP- certified to issue the necessary immigration forms for that visa classification.
The Students and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s program that certifies U.S. schools to enroll nonimmigrant students and ensures their compliance with administrative regulations through the web based student and exchange visitor information system (SEVIS). This system maintains essential data related to nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors.
F-1 nonimmigrants are international students coming to the U.S. to pursue a full course of academic study, or to study English at an English language institute in an SEVP-approved school. F-1 students can remain in the U.S. for the duration of their program of study, which can last for several years. They can change their major or program and they can transfer or begin a new program after completion of a course of study.
M-1 nonimmigrants are foreign nationals pursuing a full course of study in an SEVP-approved vocational, or other recognized nonacademic institution. M-1 students taking part in a vocational program can remain in the U.S. initially for up to one year unless they apply for an extension. M-1 students cannot change their major or program of study and they can only transfer in the first 6 months after arriving in the U.S.
J-1 nonimmigrants come to the U.S. to participate in an exchange program including high school, and university study. The U.S. Department of State manages the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.
The F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visa applications require the issuance of the I-20. The J-1 requires the issuance of the DS-2019 form.
Eligible international students can obtain authorization to take part in training and on-the-job learning that supplements the knowledge gained in their academic studies. These training / employment opportunities include the following:
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 students
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 students
- Practical Training (PT) for M-1 students
Pre-completion OPT can be used prior to a students program ending and can be granted for up to 12 months.
Post-completion OPT can be used after a student’s program ends and can be granted for 12 months.
STEM OPT is a 24 month extension for qualifying students with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) takes place prior to completion of the students course of study and must be an integral part of the school’s curriculum.
If a full 12 months of full time CPT is used, the international student will lose the 12 months of OPT.