STUDENT & TOURIST VISAS
Any foreign nationals must obtain a visa before entering the United States. Nonimmigrant visas are available for temporary stays, and immigrant visas are available for permanent stays. There are various types of nonimmigrant visitor visas which will allow the holder to enter the U.S. for a specific temporary purpose, such as tourism, business, pleasure, or study.
F1 STUDENT VISAS
Any foreign nationals who wish to study within the United States must obtain a student visa. The most commonly issued student visa is the F1 visa. Several steps are required to apply for this visa, which may vary slightly depending on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate through which you apply. However, the process to obtain an F1 visa will generally follow this flow:
Acceptance by an SEVP Approved School:
Students who want to apply for an F-1 visa must first apply and be accepted to a school in the United States that is approved by SEVP. If you need help locating a suitable qualifying school with your intended course of study, contact Immigration Attorney Fady Eskandar for help.
Payment of SEVIS Fee and Receiving I-20 Form:
After you’ve been accepted by the school, you must pay the fee for enrollment in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Your intended school will then need to provide you with the I-20 Form. You will need to present this form to the consular officer later when you attend the visa interview for an F-1 student visa.
Completion of Visa Application:
Form DS-160 is the application for an F-1 visa to the United States, and it should be completed online after you have completed step 2 above. You will see a confirmation page after the application is complete. This confirmation page needs to be printed and brought to the consular for the F-1 visa interview. A non-refundable application fee must be paid for the visa application.
Scheduling and Preparation for Visa Interview:
Once you have completed steps 1 – 3 above, you will need to schedule an interview with your closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. There will be a wait time for the interview, which may vary based on the location, application time, type of visa, etc. It’s advisable to apply early to avoid delaying your studies, because the F-1 student visa may be granted up to 120 in advance of when you will begin studying. You can enter the U.S. 30 days before the start of your courses.
You will need to bring certain documents with you to the F-1 visa interview. Bring the following:
- Your valid passport
- The printed confirmation page from Form DS-160 submission
- Receipt for Form DS-160 application fee payment
- One passport photo
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – Form I-20
You may be requested to bring additional documents that prove your eligibility to obtain F-1 visa status. This may include academic transcripts, diplomas, degrees, or other academic certificates. Scores for required tests like the TOEFL, SAT, GMAT, or GRE can be requested in some cases. You may also be asked to bring proof that you intend to leave the United States when you complete your program, and that you have the financial ability to pay for tuition as well as living expenses while present in the U.S.
If you want more information about the F-1 student visa application process, you need assistance getting your documents ready, or if you want help to prepare for the interview, contact the Law Offices of Fady Eskandar. Although every immigration case is different, we have in the past assisted students from around the globe to come and study within the U.S. under F-1 and other student visas.
Attending F-1 Visa Interview:
The F-1 visa interview is going to determine if you have successfully qualified to obtain an F-1 student visa or not. The consular officer in charge of your interview will have final discretion over whether you are accepted or not, assuming you have properly prepared all your documents and have met all the requirements for an F-1 student visa.
In some cases, a payment for visa issuance may be required. Your fingerprints will also be taken for record-keeping purposes.
If you’re accepted for the F-1 visa, the consular officer will stay with your passport for the purpose of issuing the visa. You will be informed when the visa is ready and you can get your passport back. It will be returned either through the mail or by picking it up at the embassy or consulate.
If the application is denied, you will be given a refusal paper that will contain the reason for your denial, with reference to the section of law relating to your ineligibility.
Sometimes it’s possible to file a waiver of ineligibility. Immigration Attorney Fady Eskandar will be able to help you understand why you were denied and assist you in reapplying for a second interview. It’s our job to help you get through the student visa application process as smoothly as possible.
Note: if you hired us for representation when applying for your F-1 student visa and you were rejected, we will then review the cause of denial and help you prepare for a second interview for free.
M1 STUDENT VISAS
M-visas are intended for vocational or other nonacademic programs of study. M-1 visa holders may not work during their studies, even if they are in technical or vocational school. All M-1 visa applicants are required to provide evidence of their financial ability to pay all tuition and living expenses while they are staying within the U.S.
M1 Visa Requirements:
M1 visa applicants must have a specific program with a goal that allows you to have a “full course of study”. You are not allowed to study “generally”. A full course of study is defined as a program in a junior or community college with a minimum of 12 semester or quarter hours. The school must consider students attending 12 semester or quarter hours as full-time students who will be charged full tuition. Some exceptions apply when a smaller course load is needed to complete your studies. A full course of study may also be at a post-secondary business or vocational school that can grant Associate degrees or other degrees.
In addition, schools which can show that their credits are, or have previously been unconditionally accepted by a minimum of 3 higher learning institutions may also qualify. If it’s not possible, another option is studying in a nonacademic or vocational curriculum that is DSO certified and requires a minimum of 18 weekly attendance hours, or 22 clock hours weekly for studies that involve labs or shops. If none of these options are possible, the final option is to study in a nonacademic or vocational high school curriculum that’s DSO certified and requires the attendance of classes for at least a minimum amount of time for regular progress to graduate.
Applying for an M1 Visa
Universities have their own unique admission policies. You should be informed by the university itself about what is needed to show your academic eligibility. Most schools will require you to prove your financial ability to pay tuition and living expenses without needing to work. Some also require proof of health insurance to cover potential medical expenses you may acquire throughout your studies.
If the university has determined you to be eligible and your application is accepted, they will provide you with an I-20 form which will allow you to continue to apply for an M1 student visa.
You will need to apply for a student visa through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residency. It’s possible to apply through any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but it may be more difficult for you to prove your qualifications if you are in a country that you do not permanently reside in.
The following will be required while applying for your M1 student visa:
- Pay a non-refundable fee for visa application. You will not be refunded this fee even if your visa is denied.
- Submit and complete the DS-160 application form online for nonimmigrant visas.
- Submit and complete the DS-157 form if you are a male from age 16 to 45.
- Possess a passport that is valid at least six months beyond the end of your intended stay within the United States.
- Passport photos
When you’re applying for any type of student visa, you will be required to show proof of strong ties back to your country of residence (most likely your home country), and that you intend to leave the United States once you have completed your studies. It’s advisable to collect as much evidence as possible to show your connections to your country of residence.
If you require assistance preparing your documents to apply for a student visa, or if you would like assistance to locate and apply to a qualifying school, get in touch with the Law Offices of Fady Eskandar today to get the process started as soon as possible.
The U.S. visa exchange program allows foreign nationals to apply for a J-1 nonimmigrant exchange visitor visa if they are approved for participation in an exchange visitor program hosted in the U.S. These programs can be for teaching, lecturing, instructing, observing, studying, research, consultancy, demonstration of special skills, graduate medical education and training, or for receiving other forms of training.
Contact the Law Offices of Fady Eskandar for help in applying for your J-1 visa. We can assist you in processing your J-1 visa application to help you get through the process quickly and smoothly.
J-1 Visa Sponsoring
Applicants for the J-1 visa must be sponsored by a certified exchange program, which will be determined by the Department of State. Sponsoring programs were designed for the promotion of interchanging skills and knowledge in science, education, and the arts. Some sponsoring programs will require participants with J-1 visas to return to their own home country for a minimum of two years after the exchange program has been completed. Before applying for a J-1 visa, any potential applicants must be accepted for an exchange visitor program hosted by a certified sponsoring organization.
J-1 visa holders may bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age to the United States through a J-2 visa. Some J-1 categories do not allow J-2 accompaniments, such as the au pair, secondary school student, camp counselor, or summer work travel categories. J-2 visa holders are allowed to remain in the United States for the amount of time that the J-1 visa holder’s status is valid.
The following are examples of exchange visitors:
- Scholars or professors
- Research assistants
- Summer working employees
- Au pairs or nannies
- Camp Counselors
These are examples of some existing J-1 visa programs the U.S. has with other countries:
- Ireland – Intern Work and Travel
- New Zealand – Summer Work and Travel
- Australia – Summer Work and Travel
- South Korea – Work/English Study and Travel
You can find a list of skills and programs by each country here.
Contact Fady Eskander, Anaheim Immigration Attorney, for assistance in applying for a J-1 or J-2 visa to the United States. Get in touch with our offices today for a free consultation to get the process started!
B-1: BUSINESS VISAS
B-1 business visas are intended for foreign nationals entering and staying in the United States for one of the following reasons:
- Consultation with business associates
- Attendance at a conference or convention for scientific, professional, educational, or business purposes
- Settling of an estate
- Contract negotiation
- Participation in temporary or short-term professional training
B-1 Eligibility Criteria
Foreign nationals who wish to apply for a B-1 business visa need evidence of the following to qualify:
- They are traveling for legitimate business purposes.
- Their stay in the United States is for a limited, pre-established period of time only.
Funds for the expenses of the entire trip are immediately available.
- They have strong ties to their country of residence, including a permanent residency in that country, and have no intention of overstaying illegally in the United States.
- They are admissible to the U.S.
Length of Stay
Individuals holding a B-1 visa may stay within the U.S. for a maximum of 6 months. Extensions are available for an additional 6 months when necessary, for a total of 1 year in the U.S. at maximum.
Family Members of B-1 Visa Holders
B-1 visa holders may not bring dependents to the United States with them. If a spouse or children wish to accompany the B-1 visa holder to the U.S., they must apply for separate B-2 visitor visas.
B-2: TOURISM AND VISITOR VISAS
Foreign nationals who wish to apply for a B-2 visa must prove their eligibility by showing evidence that they intend to enter for one of these reasons:
- Tourist activities
- Taking a vacation
- Visiting friends or relatives
- Medical treatment
- Participation in a social event hosted by a social, fraternal, or service organization
- Participation in a sporting or musical event, or a similar event, as an unpaid amateur
- Enrollment in a short-term recreational course which doesn’t grant academic credits
B-2 Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for a B-2 visitors visa, an individual must be able to demonstrate the following:
- That the trip is for the sole purpose of tourism, pleasure, or medical treatment.
- That the individual will only stay for a pre-established, limited time.
- Funds are available to cover the expenses of the entire trip to the United States.
- That the individual has and maintains their own residence in a country outside the U.S., and that they have strong ties that will keep them from remaining in the United States unlawfully.
Length of Stay
Holders of a B-2 visitor visa may remain in the U.S. for a maximum of 6 months on their initial visa, with the option to extend for an additional 6 months. The maximum amount of time anyone can stay in the United States on a B-2 visa is 1 year.
Anaheim Immigration Attorney Fady Eskandar practices exclusively in the area of U.S. immigration laws, and can help you apply to obtain a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa to the U.S. Contact us today for a free consultation to get the process started!