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M-1 and F-1 are two categories through which a foreign student can get a student visa to study in the United States.

A non immigrant is one who is admitted to the U.S. temporarily for a specific purpose. Students from abroad who wish to come to the United States are generally admitted in one of these two visa categories. The F1 visa category is for academic students in colleges, universities, seminaries, other academic institutions, and in language training. Whereas the M-1 category includes vocational students.

Student visa application :

To start the process, you should first apply to study at a USCIS-approved school in the United States. When you contact a school where you want to study, you should be informed if the school accepts foreign national students. If they accept, the school will give you USCIS Form I-20 A-B/ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Non immigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students). If you need a student visa, you should take the USCIS Form I-20 to the nearest U.S. consulate to obtain a student visa. You should bring the USCIS Form I-20 from the school where you would like to study for visa processing at the U.S. consulate. Additionally, you should prove to the consulate that you have the required financial resources.

Once you arrive in the United States, you will receive a Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) that will have your admission number to the United States. An Immigration official will write this admission number on your USCIS Form I-20 A-B/ ID. Then the official will send the first and second pages of this form, known as I-20 A-B, to your school as a proof of your legal admission to the United States. You need to keep the third and fourth page of the form, known as the I-20 ID. This record is the proof of your admission to the United States in the F1 visa category. You should also keep your Form I-94, as it acts as a proof of your legal entry to the United States.

Embassies and Consulates will issue a US student visa 120 days or less, prior to the registration date of the study course. If you apply for your visa 120 days or more before your start date or registration date as provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your visa application until it is able to issue the US student visa. All students can enter the US 30 days or less prior to the date of study course mentioned in Form I-20. After you enter the US, you can stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F1 visa in your passport expires. Issuance of visas will not be guaranteed. So it is advised not make any travel plans until a US student visa has been issued.

When you enter the US on a student visa, you will normally be admitted for the duration of your student status. It simply means that you can stay in the US as long as you are a full time student, even if your F1 visa expires while you are in the US. If you are a student who completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, you are allowed an additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.

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Student Visa

Generally, there are two non immigrant visa categories for students who want to study in the United States. The “F” visa is for non immigrants who want to do academic studies and/or language training programs, whereas the “M” visa is basically for non immigrants who wish to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies.

F-1 Visa :

To qualify for a F1 visa, you must be accepted by a recognized university in a full time capacity. You should also prove that you have sufficient financial support during your stay in United States. The student applying should be accepted for enrollment in a school that is SEVP certified. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is used for monitoring school and exchange programs and for F, M and J category visitors. SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains information about non-immigrant students. It is mandatory that all applicants have a SEVIS generated I-20 issued by an educational institution, which they have to submit while applying for a US student visa. In order to process your application, your I-20 will be verified through the SEVIS system.

An interview at the embassy consular section is a part of the student visa for USA process. It is required for visa applicants aged between 14 and 79, with few exceptions. The waiting time for an interview appointment for F1 visa applicants vary, so early visa application is always recommended. Normally, at the interview, a digital fingerprint scan will be taken.

As each student’s personal and academic situation will differ, students applying for same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different additional documents. Embassies and Consulates will issue a US student visa 120 days or less, prior to the registration date of the study course. If you apply for your visa 120 days or more before your start date or registration date as provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your visa application until it is able to issue the visa. All students can enter the US 30 days or less prior to the date of study course mentioned in Form I-20. After you enter the US, you can stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F1 visa in your passport expires. Issuance of visas will not be guaranteed. So it is advised not make any travel plans until a student visa for USA has been issued.

With the student visa, you will normally be admitted for the duration of your student status. It simply means that you can stay in the US as long as you are a full time student, even if your F1 visa expires while you are in the US. If you are a student who completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, you are allowed an additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school. Once you find a job and employer who can sponsor a H1-B visa, you can convert F1visa to H1 status and you can start working based on that H1-B visa for that employer. In case you are refused a visa, you can apply again.

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As a green card holder, you can apply for government sponsored financial aid for educational purposes. You can pay less tuition fee in universities and colleges. This is also known as “in-state” tuition or “resident” tuition. Savings in most cases are three to four times lower than what foreigners pay. Additionally, as a green card holder, you are permitted to work in any company located in U.S. territory regardless of job function, hours/week, etc. except for some companies that only hire U.S. citizens. And you need not worry about employer sponsorship either. Some jobs require security clearance that only green card holders and U.S. citizens can get. Therefore, a green card provides more job opportunities.

Green card holders have the permission to start their own business and create own corporation. Social security is another benefit you will get when you retire, ie if you had worked for 10 years (40 quarters to be precise) before your retirement. Also, you can sponsor your spouse and unmarried minor children under 21 for them to get permanent resident status in the United States. In this case, the green card that you got for your family will still be valid even if you lose your job or pass away.

If you have a work permit, your spouse and minor unmarried children under 21 can stay in the U.S. as dependents. Even if you have a US work permit, your kids have to get student visas to study and work visas to work. But, once they get a green card, they are allowed to stay in the U.S. even after turning 21 and even if they get married.

Another feature is that you will have access to security clearances. You will also be eligible for government grants and be exempted from export restrictions. You have the privilege of most legal rights under U.S. law, except for voting right which is only for U.S. citizens. You will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship at a later stage, once you fulfill the eligibility requirements needed while applying for citizenship. It is not mandatory that you take U.S. Citizenship. You can be a green card holder forever. If your current country allows dual citizenship,you can get U.S. citizenship without giving up your current nationality.

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