F Visa (I-20)
The primary purpose of this type of US student visa is for international students to pursue a full-time academic degree at an accredited US college or university, or to study English at a university or intensive English language institute. There are three types of F visa:
- F-1 visas for full-time students.
- F-2 visas for dependents of F-1 visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21).
- F-3 visas are for "border commuters" who reside in their country of origin while attending school in the United States.
Students with F-1 visas can work on-campus for 20 hours a week or less. Students wishing to work longer hours and off-campus must gain prior authorization from either the ISSS office or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – contact the ISSS office for more information.
J Visa (DS-2019)
The general purpose of the Exchange Visitor Program is to promote international educational and cultural exchange to develop mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. J-1 is divided into multiple categories, each designed for a specific type of exchange activity. Holders of J visas usually stay in the US for a short period of time, perhaps one or two semesters. Exchange Visitor categories include:
A scholar who enters the United States for the primary purpose of conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project. Research scholars must have been awarded at least a Bachelor’s degree, and they can be in the U.S for a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of five years. They may also teach or lecture if allowed by sponsoring department. Maximum stay: 5 Years
A professor who enters the United States for the primary purpose of teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting at an accredited post-secondary educational institution while in the United States. Professors must have been awarded at least a Bachelor’s degree, and they can be in the U.S for a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of five years. They may also conduct research if approved by sponsoring department. Maximum stay: 5 Years
Professors, research scholars, and other individuals with similar education or accomplishments travel to the United States for a short-term visit to lecture, observe, consult, train, or demonstrate special skills. Short-term scholars must have been awarded at least a Bachelor’s degree. Maximum stay: 6 Months
Non-degree students pursuing research in their field of study to be applied to their degree being earned in their home country. Must be completing a research project that is equaled to full-time enrollment. Maximum stay: 24 Months
*Do not get the exchange J-1 student visa confused with the J-1 scholar visa category.
F-2 and J-2 dependent visas
Holders of F-2 and J-2 visas are also allowed to study part-time in the US provided they meet their chosen institution’s criteria. They do not have to apply for an F-1 or J-1 visa but can apply if qualified.
J-2 visa holders can enroll as recreational or degree-seeking students, either full- or part-time, and discontinue their program at any time. J-2 visa holders can also apply for an EAD card from USCIS and be eligible to work.
F-2 visa holders are not eligible to work in the US.