F-1 Foreign Student Visa
The F-1 visa is for international students who wish to pursue their studies in the United States. F-1 students must attend a school authorized to issued Forms I-20. Search for authorized schools Here
F-1 Foreign Students are eligible for up to one year of employment authorization to get practical training. Types of practical training include: Curricular Practical Training (CPT)m Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)
An F-1 student may be authorized up to a total of 12 months of full-time practical training at each educational level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate). In other words, if you complete a Bachelor’s in marketing and use your 12 months of OPT, if you enroll in a 2nd Bachelor’s program, you will not get a second 12 months of OPT. If a student engages in pre-completion OPT, the student’s eligible period of post-completion OPT will be reduced by 1 month for every 2 months of part-time pre-completion OPT that is worked when he or she graduates.
If the student chooses to engage in pre-completion OPT, he or she may not work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session, but may work full-time during his or her annual vacation and other times when the school is not in session.
Students who graduate with a qualified Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) degree, and are currently in an approved post-completion OPT period based on a designated STEM degree may apply for up to 24-month STEM extension of their post-completion OPT under new regulations. Employers who are interested should click here
Often, F-1 students apply for an H-1B visa upon completion of their studies. Timing is something to keep an eye on – April 1st is the 1st day that an applicant can apply for the H-1B visa, unless cap exempt. If accepted into the lottery, the H-1B status would begin October 1st. Thus, there is often a “gap” between the completion of the F-1 program and/or OPT status and the requested H-1B status commencement. For individuals who have properly maintained their F-1 status, have an H-1B petition properly filed on April 1st, prior to the expiration of their EAD would qualify for a cap-gap extension of their status and EAD. The automatic extension of status would also apply to the F-2 dependents.
Note that F-1 visa holders are not permitted to attend public schools. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of F-1 visa holders are not eligible for employment authorization.