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F-1: Student Visa

The F-1 visa is for non immigrants to enter the United Sates solely for the purpose of study. When those studies are complete the individual will return to the foreign country of permanent residence.

The university, after accepting a student, will send an I -20 A -B, which is then used to apply for an F-1 visa from an American consulate abroad. To be admitted to the U.S. , it is necessary to have both the I-20 and F-1 visa passport stamp.

After being admitted to the U.S. , the student is then eligible to stay in the US for "duration of status" (D/S on form I-94 and I-20 ID). Duration of status (or to be "in status") means the time during which the student is a full time student actively pursuing a full time course of study. Upon completion of studies, the student has an additional 60 days to depart the U.S.

To be in status, F-1 students must:

  • have a valid passport or travel document

  • attend the school stated on the I-20

  • carry a full course of study (12 credits for undergraduate, 9 credits for graduate) and make reasonable progress towards a degree

  • follow certain procedures for: extension of stay, change of level, and institution transfer

  • limit employment to 20 hours per week while school is in session, 40 hours otherwise

  • refrain from off-campus employment without authorization

  • report address changes within 10 days of the change

If any of the requirements are not followed and permission for an exception has not been granted, the student will be considered "out of status" and in violation of visa obligations.

There are certain benefits of being "in status": employment, program extension, transfer, CPT, and OPT. None of these are possible when not in status.

F-1 Extension  

If it is necessary to stay beyond the date originally estimated to complete the program (the date is on item 5 of the I-20), an extension of stay is possible if the student has continually maintained status and the delay is justified by unexpected and documented health or academic problems.

F-1 Change of Level, Transfer  
Transfer of School: If a student has maintained status, it is possible to transfer to another INS approved institution by the notification process. After being accepted and issued an I-20 from the new institution, the student must enroll in the first term after leaving the previous school.

The student must also present both I-20s to the new institution within 15 days of beginning classes.

Change of Level: If the student wants to change level (i.e. Bachelor's degree to Master's degree) while remaining at UW-Stout, a new I-20 with the new educational program noted is necessary after the student has been admitted.

If changing universities, the same process as transferring should be followed.

F-1 Travel  
When preparing to travel abroad for less than 5 months, it is important to ensure entry to another country and reentry to the U.S. Depending on the country to be visited and the student's nationality, it may be necessary to apply for a visitor's visa. Contact the nearest consulate of the country to be visited for specific information.

In order to return to the U.S., a student must have: a valid passport or travel document, valid visa and an I-20.  

F-1 Employment  
F-1 students are allowed, with some restrictions, to be employed if: maintaining continuous and lawful F-1 status and working no more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. Full time (40 hours per week) employment is possible during holidays and vacation periods (including summer) if the student is eligible and intends to register for the next school term.

All F-1 students, if in status and following the weekly hour limits, are eligible to have "non federal" work study jobs on campus. Before working on campus, students must have a social security card, which can be obtained at the Social Security Office at 715 S. Barstow, Eau Claire. During new student orientation, a Social Security Agent is available to receive applications. Students must also have a completed I-9 form (work eligibility form) on file with the employer.

Student jobs are advertised on the bulletin boards outside the Financial Aid Office, Bowman 210; it is also possible the various departments have non-federal jobs.

F-1 Curricular and Optional Practical Training  
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
: CPT is available to F-1 students who have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least nine months and is employment which is an part of an established course of study. The work must be related to the major field of study and an integral or important part of studies.

CPT may be part-time, twenty hours or less, or full-time. If the student accumulates twelve months of full-time CPT, post-completion PT will not be possible. Part-time CPT has no limit and does not effect eligibility for OPT.

It will be necessary to show that the employment is required for studies. Also necessary is a written job offer.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): OPT is available to F-1 students who have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least nine months and is intended to provide temporary employment in the field of study for the purpose of gaining practical experience. There is a limit of 12 months for OPT, with part-time OPT counted as part of actual time employed (ie. 6 months of part time OPT will permit only 9 additional months of full time OPT).

It is necessary to have a job offer before applying if: the OPT is during summer vacation and the student intends to register for the following semester, school is in session and the OPT does not exceed 20 hours per week, and after completion of course requirements except for a thesis (when part of course requirements). A job offer is not necessary to apply for OPT after completion of the course.

It is very important to apply for OPT two to three months before the intended starting date as the INS sometimes takes considerable time processing the application. The application may be submitted up to 60 days after completion of program of study.

contact us for the current SIC petition fees and out attorney fee.

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