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7-nra_faq - F-1 Visa The F-1 visa is the visa used by...

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F-1 Visa The F-1 visa is the visa used by foreign students who wish to study in the United States. The first step in acquiring the visa is getting accepted by a U.S. college or university. Once accepted, the University will issue a document called a form I-20 on which the student and his sponsor (the person who will pay for living expenses and tuition) demonstrate that the student will have enough funds available to undertake studies in the United States without working. With the I-20, transcripts and other documents in hand, the student will apply for an F-1 visa in his/her country of origin. When the F-1 visa is granted, it is granted for a period known as "Duration of Status" (D/S). For example, if the school denotes on the I-20 that it should take the student no more than four and half years to obtain the degree, then the student is allowed to remain in the U.S. until the degree is completed in four and a half years or less. In order to continue "in status" the student must carry at least a full-time academic load (12 credits) and must not work illegally. Students are able to work under a very limited set of circumstances during the program of study. Normally these circumstances are limited to serious unforeseen financial hardships to the student or a program that actually requires work experience for graduation. Once a foreign student does graduate, he/she is eligible for a year of optional practical training during which employment in the field is permissible. In order to apply for optional practical training the foreign student should visit his/her international student advisor at the beginning of the last semester of studies. If the student desires to remain in the U.S. beyond the period of practical training, he or she may be sponsored for an H-1B visa (see above). TN Visa The TN visa or Treaty National visa is the professional visa that exists for Canadian and Mexican professionals pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since the requirements of a TN visa for Mexicans are closely related to the H-1B visa, this section only discusses the TN visa for Canadians. First of all, to qualify for TN status, the intended activity must be in a profession listed on Schedule 2 of NAFTA, and the Canadian professional must meet the requirements necessary to be considered to be a professional listed on Schedule 2 (for your convenience, Schedule 2 is listed at the bottom of the page). Duration - A TN visa is valid for one year and it may be renewed in one year increments. There is no limit on the total period of stay for TN professionals. Those Canadian (and Mexican) professionals who do reach the maximum allotted period of stay on the H-1B visas and L-1 visas have the opportunity to change to the TN status without completing the one year abroad imposed by the immigration laws for those two visa categories.
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