Can I Work in the U.S. on a Student Visa?

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If you’re considering studying full-time in the United States, you must obtain a student visa. Fortunately, two nonimmigrant visa categories are available for foreign nationals wishing to study in the U.S.: The F-1 and M-1 visa. Pursuing a higher education can be a costly undertaking. Many foreign pupils wonder if they can work on a student visa. Please continue reading to learn if you can work in the U.S. on a student visa and how a seasoned Essex County Immigration Attorney can help you today.¬†

What is the difference between the F-1 and M-1 visa?

The F-1 visa is reserved for academic students. This type of visa authorizes temporary entry into the U.S. to fulfill an education as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. To obtain this visa, you must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate. The M-1 visa, on the other hand, is reserved for vocational students. It allows foreign pupils to enter the U.S. to participate in nonacademic studies temporarily, generally offered at junior or community colleges. The M-1 visa requires your program to have a goal, and you must be involved in an entire course of study, meaning a study in a junior or community college with at least 12 semester or quarter hours. The following criteria must be met to obtain an F-1 or M-1 visa:

  • ¬†Enrolled in an “academic” educational program, a language training program, or a vocational program
  • School must be approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program (SEVP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement
  • Enrolled as a full-time student
  • Proficient in English or enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency
  • Sufficient funds are available to be supported during the entire proposed course of study
  • Maintain a residence abroad, which you have no intention of giving up

Can you work in the U.S. on a student visa?

A higher education is a crucial aspect of personal and professional growth and a significant investment in one’s future. However, pursuing a higher education can be costly, especially if you plan on completing your studies abroad. The expenses associated with tuition, accommodations, travel, and other related costs can add up quickly and become a financial burden for many students. Therefore, many students wonder if they can work on a student visa.

For the F-1 visa, students cannot work off-campus during their first academic year. However, they may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. Following their first academic year. F-1 students can engage in the following off-campus employment opportunities:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extention (OPT)

There are certain exceptions where F-1 students may be eligible to work off-campus in the case of extreme financial hardship or special student relief. M-1 students are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. After vocational studies are over, M-1 students can work full-time. It’s crucial to note that any off-campus training employment for F-1 and M-1 students must be directly related to their studies and authorized by the Designated School Official before starting any work.

For more information regarding student visas, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted attorney from the Law Offices of Christopher T. Howell, Esq.