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Student Visa Laws

A student Visa is a legal document required for a non – U.S. citizen to pursue an education in the U.S. There are different rules governing U.S. student Visas that must be adhered to in order to be allowed to continue education in the U.S.A. Following are some of the questions pertaining to student Visa laws asked by people who entered the U.S. with a student Visa or have questions pertaining to how to apply for a student Visa.

How much should a married person on an F-1 student Visa submitting form I-864 earn to avoid requiring a sponsor?

He/she should have earned over $18,913 net income for a household of two and could prove the same using the tax statements, letters from an employer or customers (if self employed) etc.

On a person's Citizenship application, what would be the immigration status of a spouse who has overstayed a student Visa?

Since there is no expiration date on the spouse's I-94, he/she would be out of status, which corresponds to F-1 "D/S" on the Citizenship application, where D/S is the annotation entered by the inspector and means Duration of Stay.

If a person is in the U.S. on a tourist Visa, what are the options for him/her to avoid the 3 yr ban and continue to stay in the U.S., if the tourist Visa extension is one day late reaching the officials?

Since the application for the extension was not filed on time, the overstay period will be counted from the time the I-94 expired. If this period is greater than 180 days, no sponsor can help legalize his/her status. Marrying a U.S. citizen and adjusting status to Permanent Resident appears to be the only way to stay in the country legally. Otherwise, on leaving the country, even if he/she is married, the 3 year ban holds good.

Is there a process to obtain a work permit for a person on a student Visa so that he/she can work part time or in summer?

Students could check with their program advisor if any assistantships are available, as they can work up to 20 hours on campus after 9 months of student status. The International Student Advisor could help in obtaining a CPT (Curriculum practical training), although this could hinder the person from doing an OPT (optional practical training) program after graduation, which is proven to be very important in obtaining work Visa/green card. In case of an extraordinary change in the sponsor's financial status, the International Student Office could aid him/her in obtaining an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) if they are convinced that he/she could support the change.

If a person who has an expired F-1 student Visa but maintaining his/her I-20 status by attending university classes, but was caught by the police for working off-campus and his/her I-20 was cancelled, till after he/she meets a probation officer, what are the options at this point?

It is advisable that one waits for the court date. He/she could also leave the country before the court date to try and get a new F-1 student Visa issued on the basis of a renewed I-20, but in either case, a deportation order can be expected and new student Visa application could be denied due to prior violation of immigration laws. If he/she marries a U.S. citizen who petitions for him/her, unauthorized employment would be forgiven.

What are the ways in which one can switch from a U.S. student Visa to Green card?

There are 5 ways to legally become a U.S. resident:

  1. Through family: A U.S. citizen spouse or U.S. citizen children can help one move to the U.S. immediately, but the process could take from 4 to 12 years when it involves LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) parents, children, or spouse.
  2. Through employment: If one can prove that one is not depriving a U.S. citizen worker of a job, he/she could move to the U.S. on basis of employment.
  3. Through asylum: If one can prove that one's life is in danger in one's own country due to nationality, race, political opinion or the like, he/she might be allowed to live permanently in the U.S.
  4. Through investment: For a permanent resident status, an investment of $1,000,000 would be required, whereas $100,000 - $200,000 may suffice for a temporary Visa.
  5. Through the Visa lottery: One must win one of 50,000 Visas available every year.

If you have applied for a student Visa, you would know about the multiple restrictions that come with it. Any violation of immigration laws by a student Visa holder could have serious consequences such as deportation. It is recommended to abide by the laws and seek help when in doubt. The Experts can help answer questions about student Visas.

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