F-1 Student Visas

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows a foreign national to come to the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. The student must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate. Also, the school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.


F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, there are certain programs available for F-1 students to seek off-campus employment.

F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment, after they have been studying for one academic year. These three types of employment are:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)

Any employment for F-1 students must be related to their area of study and must be authorized prior to starting any work. The F-1 student must seek this authorization from the Designated School Official.

Benefits for family members

Spouses and children of F-1 visa holders may be admitted to the United States in F-2 status. Unfortunately, F-2 visa holders are not permitted to work.