Every year, thousands of international students seek out the opportunity to study abroad in the United States. There are three kinds of visas these students can utilize to bring their studies to the U.S., each tailored to different needs and circumstances.

F Visas
These visas are issued exclusively for academic purposes. It grants the holder the power to attend college, university, high school, private elementary schools, academic training programs, and even seminaries and conservatories. There are three types of F visas:

  • F-1: When utilizing these visas, students must maintain full-time status, and can obtain employment on campus for up to 20 hours per week.
  • F-2: These visas are reserved for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of F-1 visa holders.
  • F-3: Residents of Mexico and Canada who live within commuting distance of a U.S. academic institution can utilize these visas to go to school in the U.S. either part- or full-time, without living in the U.S.

J Visas
These visas are issued to individuals undergoing practical training via an exchange program. Permitted the program allows it, those who hold these visas can seek limited employment in the U.S. while completing the training, though the visa itself is typically only issued for short periods of time. There are two different kinds of J visas:

  • J-1: Issued to the individual completing the exchange program. After completing the training, the visa holder will be required to reside in their home country for a minimum of two years before seeking permanent or temporary residence in the U.S.
  • J-2: May be issued to the spouse or any children under the age of 21 of a J1 visa holder.

M Visas
These visas are granted to individuals undergoing a training or program that is not academic in nature, such as those offered at vocational schools. M Visas do not grant holders the right to seek employment. Therefore, an individual with one of these visas must have the financial means to support him or herself for the duration of the program.

  • M-1: Individuals seeking to attend a non-academic or vocational program can use these visas for the length of the training, as well as up to one year after its completion.
  • M-2: Dependents, whether a spouse or child under 21, can utilize these visas to legally reside in the U.S. while the M1 visa holder attends the non-academic or vocational program.
  • M-3: Residents of Mexico and Canada who live within commuting distance of the U.S. vocational or non-academic training program they wish to attend can utilize these visas to attend the program without actually living in the U.S.

Those interested in securing one of these visas to study in the U.S. are likely to have questions, all of which can be answered by a Miami immigration lawyer at Pimentel & Castillo. We encourage those seeking international study in the U.S. to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.

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