You are excited that your American Student VISA has been granted! Well, congratulations! Let’s get down to something serious. Did you know that two separate government agencies are involved in this entire study business? The State Department is accountable for the American Student VISA process while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security steps in after the visa holder arrives in the United States. The latter agency issues and enforces international student regulations.
It should be underscored that an American Student VISA does not guarantee entry into the country. It only allows a student to travel to the States and then request permission to enter. The Department of Homeland Security along with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are entrusted with the authority to permit or deny admission. The decision is based on the scrutiny of your passport, Form 1-20, and the American Student VISA. In some cases, you may be requested to show evidence of financial resources or a letter from your home university stating your intent to return (if you are an exchange student). Therefore, it makes sense to keep all these documents in your hand luggage. If you are allowed to enter then the CBP officials will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record). For the same reasons, the expiration date of your visa does not determine the duration of your stay within the country.
Permission to work
In comparison to other countries, students cannot work in the USA unless they have been granted a teaching or research assistantship because immigration regulations are quite strict about it. There are restrictions, which apply to spouses of students as far as employment is concerned. For instance, spouses of F-2 holders cannot study and work whereas spouses of J-2 holders can work and study if they have obtained work authorization. When in doubt, do check with your University in order to avoid hassles.
Strictly maintain your VISA status
The United States is very strict when it comes to American Student VISA and associated regulations. As such, you must maintain your status rigorously to avoid the risk of deportation. Ensure that you report to your International Office within 30 days of your arrival with your local address. Any change of address should be subsequently communicated to them. In addition, passports should be valid for at least six months at all times. Therefore, head to your country’s consulate for renewal before the six-month period runs out.
Your American Student VISA is tied to your enrollment and hence, it is compulsory to maintain full-time enrollment. This period may differ based on the level of your course. Undergraduate programs require students to enroll for at least 12 credit hours each semester while graduate programs may have varying criteria. Check with your program coordinator for all minute details. If your program requires more time than originally granted then you should notify your International Office. As far as completions are concerned, F-1 holders have 60 days to depart after their program ends.