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F-1 Academic Student Visa:

The F-1 Visa is a widely used category and allows you to enter the United States 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 qualify to receive an F-1 Visa or F-1 Status in the USA, you must plan to 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 U.S. government to accept international students. 

Prospective Students are required to coordinate with the school (International Student Advisor) to meet the enrollment requirements and demonstrate ability to pay for the education program and living expenses.  Qualified Students (and family) will receive a Form I-20 that allows them to apply for the F-1 Student Visa.

F visa holders may only work on a limited basis on campus.  With specific authorization, students may engage in practical training in an off-campus setting during their studies or for one year after completion.  Certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree programs can receive longer periods of practical training approval in the USA.

Students engaged in practical training must ensure that they have the proper work authorization from their advisor and in most cases, must receive an approved Employment Authorization Document (EAD), otherwise known as a work card.

Student Programs in the USA are now administered through a program called SEVIS, and a list of approved SEVIS Institutions is available at:

M-1 Vocational Student Visa:

The M-1 visa is another program offered to students who wish to pursue full-time study at a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approved vocational or non-academic school in the United States. 

These schools are usually community and junior colleges that offer vocational and technical training or vocational high schools.  This visa category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training.

J-1 Exchange Visitors:

The J-1 visa category is designed to provide educational and cultural exchange programs, and to promote the sharing of individuals, knowledge and skills in education, arts and sciences.

J-1 Exchange Visitor Visas are available for a broad range of uses and may be available to employer or those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

J-1 Exchange Visitors should be aware that there is often a two-year home residency requirement for participants in the J-1 Exchange program.  This residency requirement provides that certain J-1 Exchange Visitors are required to return to their home country after completing their J-1 Exchange Program for a period of at least two years, before being eligible to receive another visa to return to the United States.

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.