Contact Attorney Mike Baker Legal Links Practice Areas About Miike Baker Law Offices os Michael Baker


Foreign nationals who enter the United States to pursue educational degrees are admitted as F-1 nonimmigrants. F-1 nonimmigrants must be full-time students. While enrolled they do not have authorization to accept employment off-campus, with some minor exceptions. There are two basic types of off-campus work authorization available to F-1 students.



1. F- 1 Visa - business : F-1 visa holder generally you cannot own a business. A nonimmigrant (F-1 included) generally cannot work, though there are particular situations when employment can be authorized. An F-1 student cannot engage in business because there are restrictions against off campus employment and against unauthorized employment.

2. F-1 Multiple entry visa : There is a certain risk because the US Consular official is allowed the discretion under law to refuse a non visa (such as F-1, B-2, J-1) if she/he suspects that the applicant intends to permanently reside in the US. There is a presumption under immigration law that all nonimmigrants are intending immigrants! Therefore, the burden is on the applicant to negate that presumption (Matter of Brantigan -- a 1966 case). Appeals to the US State Dept. in visa denial cases are possible but expensive and time consuming, and there is no guarantee of success.

3. F-1 Off Campus Work : You need authorization for off-campus work. Who may submit attestations? An employer (or the employer's designated agent or representative) seeking to employ F-1 student(s) for off-campus work shall submit an attestation on Form ETA-9034. The attestation shall be signed by the employer (or the employer's designated agent or representative). For this purpose, the employer's authorized agent or representative shall mean an official of the employer who has the legal authority to commit the employer to the terms and conditions of F-1 student attestations. Attestations by Employers Using F-1 Students in Off-Campus Work

4. F-1 Practical Training : There is a 12 month limit on the duration of Practical Training. Must complete training within 14 months of graduation. There is an O.I. (Operating Instruction) that any unused portion of Practical Training cannot be used at a later time unless "reserved" in accordance with O.I.

5. F-1 Expiration : Usually F-1 is valid for 60 days after expiration date.


Student Information/ School Information/ F-Academic/ M-Vocational Students

Foreign students seeking to study in the U.S. may enter in the F-1 or M-1 category provided they meet the following criteria:

The student must be enrolled in an "academic" educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program; The school must be approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS);

The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;

Full Course of Study for F-1 Academic Student: The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;

The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;

The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study; and

The student must maintain a residence abroad which he/she has no intention of giving up.

Petition for Approval, Form I-17, must be filed with the district office with jurisdiction for the the locality where the school is located.

There are two types of foreign students, F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrants. A school may be approved for F and/or M students, However, an individual student's classification depends on his/her principal educational goals.

F-1: Approval for attendance of academic students may be solicited by an accredited college or university that awards bachelors, masters, doctorate or professional degrees; an accredited community or junior college that provides instruction in the liberal arts or the professions and awards associate degrees; a seminary; a conservatory; an academic high school; a private elementary school; or an institution that provides language training, instruction in the liberal arts, the fine arts or the professions, or instruction in one or more of these disciplines.

M-1: Approval for the attendance of non-academic students may be solicited by a community college or junior college that provides vocational or technical training and awards associate degrees; a vocational high school; a trade school or a school of nonacademic training other than language training.

Current INS regulations recognize the following as approved schools: A school operated as a public educational institution by federal, state, or local government; and A school accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

If an institution of higher education does not fall into one of these two categories, it must submit evidence that its course credits are accepted by at least three accredited schools. If a private elementary or public or private secondary school does not fallinto one of these two categories, it must submit evidence that it satisfies the compulsory attendance requirements of the state in which it is located and that it qualifies graduates for acceptance by approved schools at a higher educational level, and in the case of a private elementary or secondary school, that it is accredited by an accrediting organization, certified by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Non-Public Education.

Approval Process Petition for approval (Form I-17) is filed in duplicate with the district director in the school's locality.

The following requirements must also be met: The Form I-17 must be signed by an officer of the institution who has authority to sign contracts. The petitioning school must submit certification indicating that it is licensed, approved, and/or accredited.

Where to apply? All applications submitted by schools and institutions wishing to accept nonimmigrant students, should be mailed to the "Attention of the INS Schools Officer" at the INS District Office having jurisdiction over the geographic area in which the institution is located.


An alien who obtains the status of a nonimmigrant under section (101)(a)(15)(F)(i) and who violates a term or condition of such status under section 214(l) is inadmissible until the alien has been outside the United States for a continuous period of 5 years after the date of the violation. ( INA 212(a)(6)(G))

Pub. L. 104-208 (IIRIRA) added two new provisions which directly affect foreign students. The intent of this legislation was to prevent F-1 students from being educated at public expense. Section 346 makes aliens who violate the provisions of INA 214(l) inadmissible for five years. INA 214(l) prohibits an alien from obtaining student status to pursue a course of study at a:

(1) Public elementary school or publicly-funded adult education program; and

(2) Public secondary school, unless the:

(a) Aggregate period study at such school does not exceed 12 months, and

(b) Alien demonstrates reimbursement of the full, unsubsidized per capital cost of the education.

The provisions of INA 212(a)(6)(G) affect only aliens applying for F-1 status after November 30, 1996, or aliens whose status was extended on or after that date. It does not apply to aliens attending public schools or programs while in other nonimmigrant status (e.g., F-2, E, H-4, J, or B--2---even out-of-status B-2).

Transferring Schools : An alien may transfer from public to private secondary school only if they reimburse the school and do not exceed the one-year time limitation. Nonadherence to these requirements automatically voids the alien's visa and renders the alien subject to INA 212(a)(6)(G) as a student abuser. (05-07-1999)

INA 214:

(l) An alien may not be accorded status as a nonimmigrant under section 101(a)(15)(F)(i) in order to pursue a course of study (A) at a public elementary school or in a publicly funded adult education program; or (B) at a public secondary school unless (i) the aggregate period of such status at such a school does not exceed 12 months with respect to any alien, and (ii) the alien demonstrates that the alien has reimbursed the local educational agency that administers the school for the full, unsubsidized per capita cost of provided education at such school for the period of the alien's attendance.

(2) An alien who obtains the status of a nonimmigrant under section 101(a(15)(F)(i) in order to pursue a course of study at a private elementary or secondary school or in a language training program that is not publicly funded shall be considered to have violated such status, and the alien's visa under section 101(a)(15)(F) shall be void, if the alien terminates or abandons such course of study at such a school and undertakes a course of study at a public elementary school, in a publicly funded adult education program, in a publicly funded adult education language training program, or at a public secondary school (unless the requirements of paragraph (1)(B) are met).

[Added by sec. 625 of Pub. L. 104-208, Sept. 30, 1996, effective as to "individuals who obtain the status of a nonimmigrant under INA 101(a)(15)(F) after the end of the 60 day period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act.

Defining "Public": A public school is any school that receives more than half of its financing through state or local taxes or through Federal grants. The definition of "public" can encompass "alternative" or "charter" schools that allow parents to exercise extensive control over curriculum. It can also encompass the term "corporate charter school" applied to schools that have received major grants and land, buildings, or educational materials from a corporation providing major employment opportunities in the local area, unless it can be established that the value of the grant on an ongoing annual basis exceeds the value of financing from public taxes and grants. (9 FAM 40.67 N3.4TL:VISA-191; 05-07-1999)

Defining "Publicly-funded Adult Education": INS defines "publicly-funded adult education" as programs run tuition-free at or in conjunction with public secondary schools. It does not apply to schools such as community colleges which receive public funds but charge students tuition. ( 9 FAM 40.67 N3.4 TL:VISA-191; 05-07-1999)

Notes, Foreign affairs Manual

To maintain your legal status in the United States as an international student or exchange visitor, you must remember these four conditions:

1. Keep your PASSPORT valid at all times. Consult your country's consulate or embassy in the US to renew your passport. Embassy web sites:

2. You must register full-time as a student during the academic year. Full-time means that as an undergraduate, you must register and complete at least 12 credits each semester; as a graduate student, the full-time course load is defined by your school or department. There are some exceptions to this regulation such as your medical condition may not allow you to maintain your full-time course load or in your last semester, you may not need 12 or more credits to finish your degree.

3. Apply for EXTENSIONS OF STAY 30 days before the date on your I-20 or IAP-66 expires. Please check your I-20 student copy item #5, and IAP-66 item #3 for J-1 students and scholars. You need to extend your program before it expires.

4. Do not accept off-campus EMPLOYMENT without official permission.

Temporary Visa and Immigration Status

It is very important to clarify two legal terms in order to fully understand how to maintain your legal status in the US. People are often confused about the terms "visa" and "immigration status". "My visa is expired. How do I get my visa extended?" This can mean several things, depending on how the term "visa" is used. The following paragraphs explain the difference between "visa" and "immigration status".


The visa stamp in your passport was obtained at a US embassy or consulate abroad and is used for entering the US. The visa shows the latest date on which you can apply to enter this country. It does not show how long you can stay here. When arriving at the US "port of entry," the US Immigration inspector examines your passport, your visa, and your Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or IAP-66), and determines whether you are admissible to the United States. The visa functions as a key to enter the US. Once you have opened the door and entered, you do not need to worry about whether your visa is valid or expired. When you are leaving and need to re-enter the US, you must be sure that you have a valid key (US visa) for return. Note: Canadian citizens are not required to have a passport (if entering the US from within the Western Hemisphere) or visa, but they must show their IAP-66 or I-20 and proof of Canadian citizenship at the US port of entry.

If the visa stamp in your passport expires, it is not necessary to renew it if you will simply stay in the U.S. However, if it has expired and you wish to travel outside the U.S., Canada, or Mexico, then it will need to be renewed at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. It cannot be renewed within the U.S.

Immigration Status

After the immigation inspector determines you are admissible, an immigration status is granted, which shows on your I-94 card and your I-20 (for F-1) or IAP-66 (for J-1). Most students have either an F-1 or J-1 student status, or J-1 visiting scholar status. In most situations your visa type and immigration status are the same, unless you have changed your immigration status after entering the US. For instance, some F-1 students change their status to F-2 (the dependent of F-1 student) or to another temporary immigration status.

To maintain your legal status in the US, check your visa documents such as I-20, IAP-66 and I-94 card (not the visa stamp in your passport), register full-time, and maintain registration as a full-time student. For F-1 students, check the ending date under item 5 on your I-20 Form. For J-1 students and scholars, check item 3 on your IAP-66 Form, and make sure that you ask for extensions of your program BEFORE the expiration date on your form.

To maintain your legal status in the US, you must have a valid I-20 or IAP-66 Form and register full-time as a student. Sometimes students finish their studies earlier than the date on their I-20, and think they have extra time to stay without being registered as a student. This is incorrect. For F-1 students, once you finish your academic program, you must either leave the US or apply for Optional Practical Training within 60 days, no matter what the date is on your I-20. For J-1 students, you have 30 days to depart, but you must apply for Academic Training before the end of your program.

When a foreign national present in the United States in one nonimmigrant classification decides to engage in a different primary activity allowed in another nonimmigrant classification, the foreign national has two options. S/he can either leave the United States and apply for a new visa in the new classification at the Consulate abroad, or s/he can file for a Change of Status through the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In order to be eligible to change status within the United States, the applicant must have been lawfully admitted to the US as a nonimmigrant, is continuing to maintain that status, and is not inadmissible for having been unlawfully present. A Change of Status must generally be filed before the applicant's authorized stay expires. The filing of an application for Change of Status does not extend one's current status, and one may not assume the new status until it is approved by INS. The applicant must also qualify for the new classification sought. There are statutory ineligibility provisions.

Immigration FAQ

The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and that the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois. Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 7.4(c)(2) Adopted February 8, 1990, effective August 1, 1990; amended July 16, 1990; effective August 1, 1990.


Ruled Line

Home | About | Practice Areas | Legal Links | Contact
Español | Disclaimer

Updated: Sunday December 23, 2007
Copyright 2008 Michael Baker Law Offices
All rights reserved