Virginia Student Visas: FAQs

There are a few important questions for someone entering Virginia on a student visa to ask and understand. These questions, and any others, can also be directed to a local student visa attorney.

What Type of Work is a Person Eligible For?

The kind of work a person is eligible for on a student visa is very limited. Student visa holders need to be very aware of the limitations so they don’t violate them. That is actually probably the most common reason for revocation of a student visa status. When the student arrives on F1 status, they cannot work at all in the United States except in on-campus positions, and they may not work more than twenty hours per week. After the first year, in some cases, the student may be able to seek off campus employment. In order to be able to work off campus, the person must prove they are suffering from severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. The reason can’t be something that the student could have expected at the time of entry. Even if the student can satisfy the extreme economic hardship test, they are still going to be limited to twenty hours a week while school is session. In these cases, they can work full time during vacations and holidays. If the student has any questions about what they are allowed to do; they should consult their international exchange office or an immigration attorney. In some cases, they may be also be approved to work off campus if they can prove the employment is an internship directly related to their field of study.

What Opportunities Are Not Available?

The main opportunity that is not available to someone on a student visa, is the opportunity to work while they are here on the visa. They must be here for full time study. It is important that they understand that. They must be very careful they don’t accept employment that violates their status.

What Happens if Someone Gets Arrested?

Depending on the reason for the arrest and whether the student is convicted of a crime, they could be in violation of their student status, and could be placed into removal proceedings, or physically removed from the country. A criminal mistake could have far more severe consequences for an individual who is here on an F visa than for a typical college student. A controlled substance conviction  might seem like a minor issue to an undergrad with a legal status, but it can be devastating to someone who is here on a student visa. It can render them deportable and ineligible to ever return to the United States. If a student has any encounter with law enforcement and has a student visa status, they should contact an immigration attorney to see what they can do to mitigate the consequences.

How Long is a Student Visa Valid For?

The student visa is valid for the duration of the student’s program of study in the United States. They are allowed to enter the US thirty days before their academic program begins. They need to leave the US no more than sixty days after their program finishes, or if they dropped below the minimum course load requirement. As soon as a student drops below a full time course load, they have sixty days to depart the United States. Also, they have sixty days to depart the United States if they accepted unauthorized employment or violated their status in another way. M visas are different from the F visas because they are limited to a maximum of only three years, no matter the length of the vocational study program.

How Can a Student Renew Their Status?

A student is able to renew their status as long as they are taking a full-time course load. But in some cases, they may be able to extend their status in another way using a program called the Optional Practical Training program or OPT.

Once their studies are completed, they can apply for a work authorization with USCIS to accept a temporary employment that is directly related to their area of study. In some cases people who are in STEM fields may be able to get a brief extension from their OPT program which would allow them to maintain status and work legally in the United States after the conclusion of their F visa program. This is for a shorter period of time and the student can only renew the OPT if they are in a specific field of study.

What Happens if Someone Finishes Their Program?

A student who finishes their program must leave the United States within sixty days if they don’t have another possibility for obtaining legal status through marriage, an employment petition, or another type of route to legalization.

How Can a Student Legalize Their Stay?

Legalizing a student’s stay is different in every case. If the student marries while they are in the United States; they may be eligible for a family based petition. If the student was the victim of a crime while here on student status, they may be eligible for U visa. The student may be eligible to apply for an employment based status like an H-1B application and get legal status through their employer. It is different for every individual, but the student visa status or a student’s F1 status terminates as soon as their full time academic studies come to an end. Then it is basically sixty days and they must leave.

Virginia Student Visa Lawyer