Student Visa Lawyers
Katz Law Office, Ltd. has a great sensitivity and passion for handling student visas because the firm’s founder was a high school instructor for seven years in Chicago’s inner city prior to opening the law firm. This passion has been instructed throughout the firm and its attorneys and support staff not only understand the student law and visa process but they have a great care and respect for those individuals who travel to the U.S. in order to further their education.
The F visa is one of the very first types of visas to be used to approve foreign travel to the United States. As early as 1924 under the Immigration Act of 1924 officers of the U.S. government began approving visas for foreign study in the U.S., which then accounted for the majority of visa entrants to the country. Today approximately half a million applicants enter the U.S. under the F visa program to study.
Who can apply for an F visa?
· High school students accepted by private or public U.S. high schools;
· Academic students admitted to a program of study in the U.S., such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree program;
· Individuals admitted to study at language training programs;
· Persons who can support their program of study with sufficient resources;
- Family member dependents of F visa holders.
What is involved in the F visa process?
Travelling to the U.S. as a student can be a complicated process, but with the proper counsel by your side to illuminate the various hurdles, it should feel remarkably smooth and stress free. Step one requires your being admitted to a program of study, which is certified under the U.S. Department of State’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once that approval is granted and you accept the school’s offer, you can be enrolled in the SEVIS database.
What is “SEVIS”?
SEVIS stands for the Student and Visitor Information System, which is a database for both your school and the U.S. government to determine the status of who a student visa holder is, what is their current immigration status is and whether they are in fact currently enrolled in an approved student program. The government some years ago needed a better way to keep track of those who are coming and going for this purpose and this is the way that they do this.
Applying with your country’s consulate or embassy
Your attorney will help you complete and submit form DS-160 to the consulate or embassy in your home country, which will process your visa. However, as per the Code of Federal Regulations (22 C.F.R. 41.103) you personally must via the Department of State’s online portal, sign your application and send it electronically. It is important to have the I-20 approval with you when completing the DS-160 as well as information about prior visits to the U.S. as well as personal information such as your passport number, address, among other details.
Documents needed for the F visa application or interview
· A valid passport from one’s country of residence with a minimum six months validity remaining;
· The I-20 SEVIS approval document from the program of study to which one has been admitted;
· Proof of solvency in one’s home country and proof of nonimmigrant intent (see our page ___ on this).
What’s the difference between an F and a J visa?
F-1 is the student visa for standard academic study like a bachelor’s or master’s degree and can be used for language studies. The J-1 visa is for an exchange visitor, which means the visa holder is not necessarily completing a degree but instead is coming to learn something about the U.S. and bring that learning home to the benefit their home country. The J visa has designated fields of learning such as physics and engineering.
Can I work on an F or J visa while present in the U.S.?
The government wants these visa holders to come to the country principally to be students, which is why the options for employment are often very limited. On campus employment can be up to 20 hours a week. There can be more than one job worked by the visa holder but the maximum hours worked is limited to that twenty-hour quota per week. The government does need not approve the employment but only the academic institution. F and J visa holders can also work full time during break periods. The work does not need to be in the program of study but can be in any area.
J Visa Options
The J visa came about under the 1961 Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act for the purpose of strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and other countries. The goal is for the U.S. to play a leadership role worldwide by allowing its institutions to share training and wealth with scholars and professionals abroad. The J visa process requires the use of DS-2019 by institutions to accredit and approve those who have been accepted to its programs. Colleges, universities and special programs like the Fulbright Scholarship can offer this program, also au pairs, camp counselors, international scholars and physicians, among others are some of the categories that will allow one to enter with a J visa. Once approved, a J visa holder can enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date.
Documents Needed for J Visa Applications or Interviews
· Form DS 2019 which certifies the eligibility of the incoming program participant by the program admitting the exchange visitor;
- Prof of payment of the SEVIS fee on form I-901;
· Documents required by the local U.S. consulate one is applying to;
· A valid passport which is not due to expire within the term of study;
- Proof of having purchased health insurance;
· Proof of nonimmigrant intent and solvency in one’s home country.
The M visa can also be issued by SEVP certified institutions under a similar procedure as used by the F visa. The M visa however is used for technical and vocational training, not academic study. For example, the Chicago School of Violin Making is a SEVP certified school, which can accept foreign students to study in its program under the M visa.
What an experienced immigration attorney can do for you
In 2012, as many as 170,814 student visa applications under the F visa program, were denied a visa. Likely most of those individuals either did not have an attorney or did not have an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer handling their program. Katz Law Office, Ltd. handled hundreds of visa approvals for nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applicants alike, and consequently has a profound and comprehensive understanding of the student visa process and the immigration authorities’ protocols.
The attorneys at Katz Law Office, Ltd. are unique because they were trained by and share the vision of its founder who as a compassionate inner city high school instructor has brought his student-centered focus in the classroom to a client-centered approach to the legal industry. This approach has brought success to thousands of client matters for more than eleven years, placing communication and attention to clients’ worries and concerns on the same priority as the legal work itself. We believe that by strengthening communication and empathy for our clients we will improve the success rate for your case because we will thereby understand your case more thoroughly and be less likely to miss important details, which may be critical for facilitating its approval.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation today.