In general, this category is open to foreign students, au pairs, scholars, doctors, medical students, business and industrial trainees and others participating in U.S. government-approved programs for gaining experience, studying or performing research. Changing status to other nonimmigrant categories may be permissible, depending upon visa restrictions. However those subject to the 2 year home residency requirement must obtain a J1 waiver before changing to visa categories such as the H1B, the L, or before obtaining permanent residence.
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When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in America. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departure:
F-1 student - An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.
M-1 student - An additional 30 days to depart the U.S. (Fixed time period, in total not to exceed one year). The 30 days to prepare for departure is permitted as long as the student maintained a full course of study and maintained status. An M student may receive extensions up to three years for the total program.
Students who are away from classes for more than five months
Students who are away from classes for more than five months will have to apply for and receive a new F-1 student visa to return to school in the United States. This pertains both to students who have fallen out of student status while in the United States and students who have spent more than five months outside the United States in an excused absence from school.
Students who fall out of status while in the United States
Under immigration law, a student is no longer in student status if classes are not resumed within five months of the date of transferring out of the previous school or within five months of the date of program completion, whichever is applicable, although no formal finding of loss of status has been made.
Reinstatement of status
In order for a student who is in the United States to resume study, he or she must apply for reinstatement of student status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).