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Expert James
Expert James, Immigration Attorney
Category: Immigration Law
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I am on an H4 visa and have recently got admission into a 2

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I am on an H4 visa and have recently got admission into a 2 year lab based internship program at a university that entails taking courses for the first year, and doing an internship in the second year with a company or an academic hosting institution. The internships require an SSN (which I currently do not have). My questions are:

1. Can I apply for an F1 visa for such a program?

2. Will this sort of a program allow me to get an OPT at the end of 2 years?

3. I was planning to apply for an F1 only in the second year of the program (to be eligible for SSN and therefore the internship). This way I can spend less on the tuition for the first year. My question is in case I change to an F1 only in the second year, will I still be eligible for an OPT?

Thanks a lot in advance for answering my questions!
Hi there,

Thank you or requesting me to answer your questions. I'll do my best to answer your questions as completely and honestly as I can. Please note that I earn my living by helping customers like you, so once you've received your answer, I ask that you give me a positive rating for my customer service, so that I get credit for my work. Also please understand that the rating you give is not based on the outcome of your question, for which the law sometimes does not have a satisfactory solution. If you feel the need to use "poor service" or "bad service," please ask follow-up questions instead, so that I can try to help you further.

It doesn't sound to me like you are working towards a degree of any sort. Are you? If so, what type of degree?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

One has to be registered as an MS student in a university for the program.

Right, but for F-1 student status, you must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate, and your school must be authorized by the US government to accept international students.

 

So are you going to be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This program will culminate with an MS degree.

Thanks for the information.

QUESTION 1: Can I apply for an F1 visa for such a program?
ANSWER: Based on the information you've provided, yes. So long as the program culminates in a degree, and the institution is authorized by the US government to accept international students, you can get F-1 status (if you are changing status while in the US) or an F-1 visa (if you are outside of the US).

QUESTION 2: Will this sort of a program allow me to get an OPT at the end of 2 years?
ANSWER: Enrollment in any degree granting program on F-1 status can be the basis for OPT after the first year (pre-completion) or after the completion of the program (post-completion).

QUESTION 3: I was planning to apply for an F1 only in the second year of the program (to be eligible for SSN and therefore the internship). This way I can spend less on the tuition for the first year. My question is in case I change to an F1 only in the second year, will I still be eligible for an OPT?
ANSWER: Yes, it sounds to me like you would be eligible, since you would have completed the program and earned the degree.

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