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Back to school…F-1 Fact or Fiction

As the new academic school years begins, Berardi Immigration Law reviews the basic elements of the F-1 nonimmigrant status.
Statement #1:

I’m a foreign national, I can apply to any university in the U.S. and obtain F-1 status.

FICTION. In order to qualify for F-1 status you need to enter 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. You must 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.  Some “schools” will try and lure a foreign national with the promises of online course-work easily accessible from any geographic location, employment authorization from the beginning, and only offering evening/weekend classes.  These “schools” should be avoided as they typically do not qualify according to the immigration regulations.
Statement #2:

I just received my F-1 status, now I immediately can receive employment authorization.

FICTION.  A foreign nation in F-1 status can be authorized for Curricular Practice Training (CPT) only after a full academic year of full-time study.
Statement #3:

If I take a take one online course, I will not violate my F-1 status.

FACT. No more than one (1) online course, not exceeding 3 credits, can be taken during each academic term.
Statement #4:

It is my last semester of education before graduation and I have enough credits to graduate.  However, I must maintain a full-time course load.

FACT. Even if you have a letter from your academic adviser stating that you have enough credits to graduate, you must maintain a full-time course load.  Falling below full-time at any point in your academic career will violate the F-1 nonimmigrant terms.
If you are interested in coming to the U.S. to receive an education, contact our attorneys today to discuss your options.