F-1 visas are available for applicants to temporarily enter the U.S. for the sole purpose of pursuing an academic study on a full-time basis at an approved academic high school, university, college, seminary, language school, or conservatory. Unlike most other nonimmigrants, who are given a defined period of stay in the U.S., foreign students are permitted to remain in the U.S. for the “duration of status.”, meaning that a student remains in valid status during his/her enrollment in any number of academic programs, plus any periods of authorized practical training and a 60-day grace period to depart the U.S.
If you wish to attend a university or other academic institution in the United States, including primary and secondary school, or a language training program you will require an F-1 visa. Please note that F-1 visas cannot be issued to attend a public elementary school (grades K through 8, approximately ages 5 to 14) or publically funded adult education program such as foreign language classes.
While an F-1 can be issued to attend public secondary school (grades 9 through 12, approximately ages 14 to 18), students are limited to a maximum of 12 months of high school in F-1 status and must show proof that payment has been made for the full, unsubsidized cost of the education at the time they apply for the visa. Private elementary or secondary schools are not affected by this ruling and provided the school issues you with the form I-20, you may apply for an F-1 visa.
The F-1 visa applicant must show acceptance by the school or program and prove he can afford to attend the school and provide his own living expenses, maintain a residence in a foreign country that he/she has no intention of abandoning; and no immigration intent.
After graduation, one year of practical training is available under proper circumstances to gain experience in their field of study. Students in English language programs are ineligible for practical training.
A relatively recent change severely restricts F-1 visas issued to students at public high schools and elementary schools. The new changes bar F-1 student status for students seeking to attend public elementary schools. Such students are limited to one year of attendance, and the foreign high school student must reimburse the school for the full-unsubsidized costs of the student’s education. Please note that the above changes do not apply to minors in other nonimmigrant statuses (i.e., H-4, R-2, L-2) who are attending public schools. Neither do they apply to students attending private schools, foreign college and university students.
F-2 status allows your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to join you in the U.S. The F-2 status of spouse and children is dependent upon your F-1 status. Spouses and children of foreign students) are not allowed to seek employment.