Tag Archives: transfer visa

F-1 Visa: What is this US Student Visa & How Do I Get One?

The F-1 student visa is a nonimmigrant visa allowing foreign students to come to the US and attend US colleges or universities but can also include some other approved academic institutions and earn a full degree at all levels from Undergraduate to Masters to PHD.

Generally if you are doing a high-school exchange program you would be on a J-1 visa (althougth there a few exceptions).

It also can be used to attend Higher Education English Language schools in the US for students to improve there English and obtain certification at the end that is Internationallly recognized. Often many foreigners take this route as it can be hard to accepted either initially or especially transferring with the proving of available funds requriement and actually paying for a US college.

F-1 visa Requirements

1. Unless you are attending an English Language school, you generally must be fully proficient in English to participate in all aspects of the University/College classes. There are a couple of rare exceptions where the University you are attending may make an allownce to teach you extra English classes but this is not common. Many Universities may make you sit some sort of entrance test or submit a lot of documentation proving your English ablities.

2. You have to prove prior to starting the course to the University and then officially signed off on by the USCIS that you have enough funds to pay for education and living expenses prior to receiving your approval to begin studying. This can be a steep requirement even for State Universities.

This requirement varies state by state and college by college. However for example your living expenses proof in New York is a lot higher than states in the middle of the US like Ohio for example. With the private universities which are generally the most well known ones like Harvard, Yale, etc., foreign students except on scholarship generally have to pay the large tuition fees in full up front.

3. The institution has to be approved by the USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Service). Most institutions have been approved long ago, this generally applies to the more obscure new schools that noone may have heard of.

4. The Institution has to issue you Form I-20A-B which is essentially there satisfaction that you meet all requirements like funding, english competency, academic pre-requisites, etc.

Pros & Cons of the F-1 Visa

– The main benefit of course is that you can earn a US degree or certificate which is well respected around the world and also participate in campus life in the US which opens up a lot of opportunities to you
– You Transfer from one school to another or switch academic programs by notifying the change to the USCIS
– You can legally work part-time on campus and have access to OPT (Optional Practical Training) which allows you to work in the US for a period of time, usually around a year max for undergraduate students and a max of 2 years for post graduate students.
NB: You cannot work legally off campus unless your Institution approves it which is hard to get as you often have to prove economic hardship. Generally no institution will authorize this regardless in your first year of study. In reality many people do work off campus however this may effect your chance of a Green Card/Permanent Residency later in life.
– You can travel freely in an out of the US as long as your visa is valid and your I-20 form is signed by the Instituition
– You can bring your dependents on the F-2 visa but they cannot work.
– You cannot apply for a Green Card directly from an F-1 visa status

You can generally stay as long as it takes to finish your studies and you can extend your stayon the F-1 visa relatively easily by being approved by the appropriate school officials. The I-20 extension should be filed along with your passport, Form I-94, Arrival-Departure document, a letter stating the reason for your extension.

A lot of people change from the F-1 visa to the H-1B visa or for Australians, change from the F-1 visa to the E-3 visa after completing their studies so they can continue to live and then work normally in the US.

Hopefully we may see you as a student in the US sometime soon ๐Ÿ™‚


Are you on a H-1B Visa or E-3 Visa and now Laid Off?

I wrote earlier in February about this very issue and the main ideas I had to help you find new employment so the posts I recommend reading are;

Laid Off on an E-3 or H-1B Visa where I talk about the situation and idea where you can get your current employer to help and also an option in Canada
Extending, Renewing or Changing Employers on your E-3 Visa this is alsoย  helpul to H-1B holders or applicants as the process is very similar
Information about the Top 100 Companies that sponsored H-1B visas last year where we discuss how this may help you and the genesis of the list which we made FREE for you
The Top 200 List of US Visa Employers Last Year is a raw list of the companies that is beneficial to E-3 visa applicants as much as H-1B and even J-1.

Now I have received a lot of emails in recent times about;
How long people have?
How can they extend their time to look for a job?
Is the transfer process easy and not too costly?
Can you transfer to B1/B2 status to allow you more time to find a position?
Do I have access to any unemployment benefits since I pay Social Security/Payroll/FICA Taxes?
Can I work while the transfer process is underway?

I will try and document the answers to these questions briefly on one page, although a lot of these answers are in more detail elsewhere in the blog in other posts and you can go the All Posts List which documents all entries and visa information by title.

1. How long do I have?
Technically you only have 10 days to find a new employer once your current employer notifies USCIS of your termination date. We explain in the above post more fully how you can ask you employer to delay this notification to give you more time.
NB: Over time through guidance and enforcement changes, and post the financial crisis, the e-3 visa rules continued to more resemble the h-1b visa rules. So the 10 days have become more like 60 days. However always be cautious as you never know what might be enforced especially in the post 2016-era of US immigration.

2. How can you extend your time to find a job?
Will this really follows on from question 1, so the delay in notification is one option. Leaving and re-entering the US on the visa-waiver program is another option. Transferring to a B1/B2 visa or even another category (although you have to meet their individual requirements) can also potentially extend your time.

3. Is the transfer process easy and not too costly?
It certainly could be easier, I mention in the above linked post the entire process and forms involved. Eassentially it involves getting a new LCA form and a filing form for transfer of employer to USCIS which I think costs around $300 although this constantly changes. It can be relatively straightforward in what you do but it can be a long process.
Of course if travel is involed if you plan to get a new visa outside the country this of course will amplify costs.

4. Can you transfer to B1/B2 status to allow you more time to find an employer?
You certainly can trasnfer to B1/B2 if you do this application to USCIS. Visapro states USCIS officers have been allowed to exercise their discretion to grant you another nonimmigrant status, if you apply for change of status within 10 days after you are laid off.

5. Do you have access to any unemployment benefits as you pay Social Security taxes?
No you don’t in any shape or form if you are on any non-immigrant visa. Yes this is completely unfair given you are forced to pay these taxes just like a US worker but you have no claim to any benefits.

6. Can I work while the transfer process is underway?
For H-1B visa holders you can given the application has been filed and you have your approved LCA from the Department of Labor. However your transfer application could still be denied potentially by the USCIS.

For E-3 visa holders the answer is a little more strange as it is largely undocumented. So some USCIS officers will say the rules are the same as H-1B as they are for most other things when not fully documented as seems to be the general direction of the visa. However other officers say this is not the case and you have to wait for your transfer. This combined with the transfer visa application cost has caused many of E-3 to just go to Canada and apply for a new visa with their new employer instead.

Good luck if this is your predicament…I wish you all the best ๐Ÿ™‚


**look I should say again I am not a lawyer but I answer these questions to the best of my ability having gone through the visa process many times and having shared experiences with many others so I want to save you guys as much money as I can with potential legal costs. Some of the policies change a lot and I try to keep us as much as I can but I do miss a few changes.