Applying for a Student Visa in Virginia

There are a few different types of student visas available in Virginia. These are the F visa, the M visa, and the J visa. It can take several months for an application to be approved. The applicant should be cognizant of the academic schedule of the school year they choose to enroll in. They can’t apply for admission at a school in February if the academic year started in January. They must make sure that the visa application is approved and they are accepted to the school in time to begin their studies. When applying for a student visa in Virginia, it is advisable to consult with a Virginia student visa lawyer who can help to determine which visa to apply for, and guide the applicant through the application process. 

How to Apply For a Student Visa

The first thing a person must do is find a school they want to attend, apply, and be accepted. They must apply for admission to the school and prove they have been admitted. The school must be approved by USCIS under the SEVP program, which is a program that provides accreditation to schools that want to host international students. The person must (1) make sure their school qualifies and, (2) prove that they qualify to be accepted. They must prove acceptance and then begin the visa process. First, they must pay the SEVIS fee, and their school will be contacted and will provide the person with another form called the I-20 which the student must take to their visa interview at the consulate or embassy abroad. At the consulate or embassy abroad where the person attends their interview, they must prove that they are otherwise admissible to the United States. That means they don’t have any criminal history, prior immigration violations, or other health related grounds for inadmissibility that apply to them. Even if someone is accepted to the program and complies with all other requirements, they still need to prove admissibility at the visa interview.

Required Documents

The F and M visa applicants must enter the United States solely to pursue their full time study at an established institution of learning or another recognized place of study in the US. That is the legal term for it. They must prove they are enrolled and that they are accepted to the program. A person cannot come to the United States on a student visa and then apply for admission to an educational institution. They must be accepted, prove their ability to pay for the tuition, have the ability to attend the school full time, and prove that they will be accepted before they enter.

The Role of a Student’s International Exchange Office

It’s very important for the student to have a good line of communication with the international exchange office of their school because they file the paperwork and receive the I-20 from the government. In many cases, they serve a role similar to an attorney. They can advise a person about the duration of their status, the terms of their status, and things of that nature. In many cases, people don’t get immigration attorneys because everything is handled through the international exchange office.

Common Issues with Obtaining Student Visas

The most common reason an individual is denied a student visa in Virginia, even after being accepted to an accredited school, is they have grounds for inadmissibility. The most common ground of inadmissibility is having a criminal record in their home country. That is a very common issue. Another common issue for individuals who have traveled abroad or maybe resided in the United States before, and have had encounters with immigration that can bar them from any kind of status. That can create a roadblock as well. They can also be denied if the individual can’t prove they have funds to support themselves while here on student status.

Common Misconceptions About Student Visas

The most common misconception when students apply for a visa in Virginia is that the individual has a direct pass towards a legal status after the student visa status expires. They believe that after they are done with school, there is some other clear cut possibility for them to apply for permanent status. In most cases, that’s not true. There are other ways that a student can obtain permanent residency in the United States, but they are not related to the student status. There is no continuation of the student visa program, though the time here can be extended for a short period of employment through a program called OPT. If the student wants to stay in the United States for a long period of time or permanently, they need think about other routes they may be able to create while they are in student status. An example is if they married a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident while they were a student. They may be able to apply for a family based spousal petition green card. In other cases, they can apply for an H-1B or another employment based immigration status, but steps need to be taken to obtain that kind of status before the student falls out of status.

Virginia Student Visa Lawyer