Studying in the U.S. can open many doors for foreigners. First, the U.S. boasts some of the top academic institutions in the world, in all specialties and at all levels. Second, studying abroad can also increase future job prospects for those who dream of working in the U.S. in the future, as employers often prefer their new hires to have an American academic background. Even for those who wish to make significant progress in their English, nothing is more effective than an intensive course combined with the cultural immersion of physically being in the U.S.
The F-1 visa opens doors to all those possibilities, allowing foreign students of all ages to stay in the U.S. for as long as the normal course of study lasts, as well as one additional year of practical training after the completion of study in certain cases. Any foreign student pursuing a full course of study in approved colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, private elementary schools, other academic institutions, as well as in language training programs in the United States is covered by the F-1 visa.
Students must be accepted by the academic institution, which must be registered as a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) institution. The alien student must satisfy two criteria: (a) He/she must prove that he has no intent to remain permanently in the U.S. and that his travel to the U.S. is only for the purposes of completing a course of study; and (b) he/she must also prove that he has the financial resources required to pay for his educational and living costs while in the United States.
Generally, the US consular officer has the total discretion to grant the visa or not, which makes preparation for the consular interview of paramount importance. In addition to this, a trend developed over the years of those who had intentions of overstaying illegally in the U.S. to apply for student visas based on temporary studies at English-language institutes, believing that the requirements or scrutiny would be less than that applied to a tourist visa. Since then, it has become increasingly difficult to get a student visa. Steve Maggi specializes in preparing student visa applications and students for their consular interviews, as well as assisting F-1 visa holders in extending their stays through OPT and then H-1B visas if they have job offers when finishing their four-year university programs.