Student Visa Lawyer

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    A student visa lawyer at Law Offices of Mathew M. Chacko, PC represents individuals seeking F-1, M-1, and J-1 student visas. Contact us to learn more.

    The Role of a Student Visa Attorney

    Students who wish to pursue their studies in approved educational institutions in the U.S. need to obtain appropriate categories of visas.

    These student visa categories include:

    • F-1 (Academic students),
    • M-1 (Vocational students),
    • J-1 (Exchange students).

    F-1 and M-1 students must be accepted in a program approved through the Department of Homeland Security’s, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). J-1 students must be accepted in a program that has been approved by the Department of State.

    However, that is only the beginning of the student visa process. Each consulate and embassy has its own rules when applying for a student visa, such as the visa interview policy procedure and other regulations. When starting an application process, it is always a good idea to contact an experienced immigration lawyer.

    Types of Student Visas

    Visas are specifically tailored to the necessities and requirements of each individual. To study as a full-time student in the U.S., an individual can choose between an F-1 visa, an M-1 visa, and a J-1 visa.

    F-1 Visa (Academic students)

    The F-1 visa category is for academic students attending a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, or other academic institutions, including a language training program. The student has to be accepted for enrollment in an established school that is SEVP certified. Applicants must submit an I-20 when they are applying for their student visa. An F-1 student visa is required if an applicant’s course of study is 18 hours or more a week or when traveling to the U.S. to attend seminars, conferences or a program of study for academic credit.

    Applicants for an F-1 visa must demonstrate that they properly meet student visa requirements including acceptance at a school; sufficient funds to pursue the proposed course of study; preparation for the course of study; and intention to leave the United States upon completion of the course of study.

    All applicants should be prepared to provide transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended; scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.; and financial evidence that shows sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of their intended study.

    Spouses and children (dependents) must provide proof of the student’s relationship (marriage and birth certificates) to obtain an F-2 visa.

    M-1 Visa (Vocational Students)

    Includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training. M-1 visa is issued for vocational students wishing to pursue non-academic or vocational studies in a community college or junior college that provides vocational or technical training and awards associate degrees; a vocational high school; a trade school or a school of nonacademic training other than language training.

    J-1 Visa (Exchange Students)

    This student visa is for exchange visitors like professors or scholars, research assistants, students, trainees, teachers, specialists, nannies/au pairs and camp counselors, etc. who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing, or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

    The exchange program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science and is undertaken by exchange sponsors, usually public and private entities designated by the Department of State.

    How Can a Student Visa Attorney Help?

    A foreign national student who wants to study in the United States must obtain a proper student visa. U.S. immigration law can be tough for international students who wish to complete their education in another country. Skilled immigration lawyers may be able to help.

    A student visa attorney at Law Offices of Mathew M. Chacko, PC, can help you determine which type of student visa is best suited for your needs. Their expertise can significantly improve your chances of success. Reach out today.


    The school must be a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school.

    A SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) Form I-20 endorsed for travel and signed by DSO; must not have been out of the U.S. for less than 5 months; a current passport valid for at least six months after the date of your reentry or; a valid visa unless you traveled to a contiguous country or adjacent island for less than 30 days; and financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses.

    Do not travel outside the U.S. until your SEVIS record shows that you are in active status. If you travel, you may not be able to renew your visa or return to the U.S.


    Yes, in most cases. You can usually revalidate an expired visa automatically when returning from a visit of less than 30 days provided you have a valid SEVIS Form I-20 and a valid unexpired Form I-94 (this process is called automatic visa revalidation).

    One can usually revalidate an expired visa automatically when returning from a visit of less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or one of the islands (other than Cuba) adjacent to the United States provided one has a valid SEVIS Form I-20 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. Note: This process revalidates your visa (making it eligible for a single trip) but does not renew it.

    You will not be eligible for automatic visa revalidation if: you applied for a new visa and it has not been issued; you applied for a new visa and were denied; you have a terminated SEVIS record indicating that you are out of status; you have been out of the U.S. for more than 30 days; and you are a citizen of Cuba/Iran/North Korea/Sudan and Syria.

    No. You will need a valid SEVIS Form I-20 and a valid unexpired Form I-94. Be sure that you do not have a terminated SEVIS record showing that you are out of status.

    You may be considered ineligible to return to the U.S. as an F1 student, because you have exhibited an intent to immigrate which is inconsistent with your non-immigrant status.

    Yes. However, you will be considered an initial student for SEVIS purposes. You will have to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee and any time you have accrued towards qualification for training or employment is lost. You must have the new SEVIS I-20 showing that you are entering on a new SEVIS ID number. You should be aware that CBP will determine whether or not to admit you with the new SEVIS I-20. If you did not comply with the terms of your status during a prior stay in the U.S., they may decide that you are not eligible to reenter.

    Yes, you may reenter to search for employment.

    Yes, you may reenter to search for employment.

    If your OPT has been approved and you depart before you got a job, your OPT ends and you cannot renter unless you have a written job offer. If you have a job, you may travel and reenter to resume work at the same job or you have a written offer for another job.


    Yes, but the Department of State (DOS) recommends that you apply in your home country.

    In some cases you can. If you exit the U.S. and apply for a visa you cannot return until DOS issues a new visa. If DOS denies your application, you will not be able to return as a student. Note that applying for a new visa is not the same as automatic visa revalidation.

    Dependents of a continuing F1 student, previously admitted into the U.S. in F2 status should have a current Form I-20 in their names that certifies admissibility (i.e. DSO signature approving travel). Note each dependent must have an individual Form I-20. Besides, a valid visa unless you are from Canada or Bermuda, the primary (F1) must be in active status. Also, the F1 holder must have a valid Form I-94 arrival/departure card.

    You may apply with USCIS by submitting an application using Form I-539 before the expiration date on your I-94 USCIS ELIS. Note: Students should contact their DSO official to extend/change the status.

    A student may engage in practical training only after completing studies. Any off-campus employment must be related to their area of study and must be authorized prior to starting any work by the DSO and USCIS.

    It fosters global understanding through educational and cultural exchanges. All exchange visitors are expected to return to their home country upon completion of the program in order to share their exchange experiences.

    Once you obtain a Form DS-2019 from a Sponsor, you may apply for an exchange visitor J-1 visa at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

    Spouse and any children can apply for an exchange visitor (J-2) visa when you apply, or join you after you are in the United States if the exchange category in which you are participating permits an accompanying spouse and/or dependents (i.e. regulations prohibit an accompanying spouse in the categories of Camp Counselor, Summer Work Travel, Au pair and Secondary School Student). In some cases, an individual sponsor’s program will not permit a spouse or dependents to accompany their participants.

    You may not arrive 30 days before the program start date shown on DS-2019. You have 30 days grace period to depart the U.S. after the end of the program.

    Yes. Your program sponsor may extend your program up to its maximum length. If an extension is granted, a new Form DS-2019 will be issued to you reflecting the change.

    If the program is terminated for just cause, the sponsor will enter the information on SEVIS, and you are expected to depart the U.S. immediately. You will not be entitled to the 30 days post-completion grace period because you did not successfully complete the program.

    Immediately notify the program sponsor. The sponsor will enter the information on SEVIS, and you should depart the U.S. immediately. You will not be entitled to the 30 days post-completion grace period because you did not successfully complete the program.

    If your visa expired and you do not plan to travel outside of the U.S., you need not renew your visa. If you plan to travel, you will need to obtain a new J-1 visa from your home country to continue the program.

    A J1 visa is applicable only for the current J1 exchange program and under your current program sponsor. If you want to do the second J1 exchange program in a different category with a different program sponsor you must apply for a new visa for your new exchange program from the new J1 exchange sponsor in order to enter the U.S. for the second program.

    J1 holder may only perform the activity listed on his or her Ds-2019 or as provided for in the regulations for the specific category for which entry was obtained and with the approval of the Sponsor’s Responsible officer.

    Yes, allowed to perform the activity listed on his or her DS-2019 and as stated in the regulations for that category of exchange.

    Yes. The five bases for a recommendation of a waiver are:

    • No Objection Statement;
    • Request by an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency;
    • Persecution;
    • Exceptional Hardship to a U.S. Citizen (or lawful permanent resident) Spouse or Child of an Exchange Visitor; and
    • Request by a Designated State Public Health Department or its Equivalent (Conrad State 30 Program).

    You may only apply on one waiver basis.

    No. However, the time remaining on your current DS-2019 may be utilized. You will need to change your visa status to another category.

    Once you or your dependent(s) travel and re-enter the U.S., you or your dependent(s) will be subject to the Two Year Home Residence Requirement all over again.

    Request the No Objection Statement from your home country’s government once you have your waiver case number. You will receive your waiver case number when you complete the online application.

    If your home country will not issue a No Objection Statement on your behalf, then you may apply for a waiver recommendation under one of the other bases, if it applies to your situation. Otherwise, if none of the other waiver bases applies, you must fulfill the two-year home-country physical presence requirement.

    No. If you believe that you qualify for a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement under both persecution and exceptional hardship to your U.S. citizen (or legal permanent resident) spouse or child, you may apply for a waiver recommendation under only one of these two bases.

    Apply for a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement through the request of an Interested U.S. Federal Government Agency or through the request of a designated State Public Health Department or its equivalent, also known as the Conrad State 30 Program. You may apply using only one waiver basis, and it must apply to your situation. 

    A U.S. federal government agency may request Interested Government Agency waivers on behalf of foreign physicians to practice in health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas; and each designated State Public Health Department, or its equivalent, may make only 30 such waiver requests per year.

    No. Waiver recommendation applications are thoroughly considered, and the Waiver Review Division typically doesn’t reconsider applications once a final determination has been made. You may, however, reapply using another basis for waiver, if another basis applies to your situation.

    Yes, subject to the same requirements as a J-1 exchange visitor if a J1 holder is subject to such requirement.

    No. They are automatically included in the waiver recommendation application. However, the J1 holder needs to list them when completing the application for a waiver recommendation.

    With a few exceptions (when the J-1 spouse dies or divorces or when a J-2 child reaches age 21), J-2 spouses and children cannot independently apply for waiver recommendations when their J-1 spouses or parents are not applying.

    Generally, the country which was your country of legal permanent residence when you received your J-1 status is the country to which you must return to fulfill the two-year home-country physical presence requirement. The period of time you spend in the U.S. or a third country after your exchange visitor program has ended may count toward fulfillment of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement, if you are employed by your home country’s government, in its military service, or in its career foreign service and you are serving in a country other than your home country at the behest of your home country’s government. You have to provide a written statement from an official of your home government (through the home country’s embassy in Washington, DC) that you were or will be serving in the U.S. or a third country in the service of your home country and at that government’s request.

    The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, are entitled to work authorization. Their income cannot be used to support J-1 visa holders.