EDUCATION IN THE US: A SOLID PATH TO SUCCESS!
Doing well at a U.S. university or college can open so many doors. Hard work leads to a fulfilling job and fantastic opportunities. Most schools have excellent support services. Sometimes legal assistance is helpful in working with your school or figuring out your best path to academic success. One thing is certain: students have legal rights. You've put a lot of effort and expense into your eduction. Let's make it pay.
Students and their families should be treated fairly. Many schools have structured processes for taking action based on academic performance. Matt is happy to talk about how to navigate those processes. Students and their families invest so much time and effort into education. Matt will also work with you to ensure that you, as a student, or your student family member, is being evaluated fairly.
One thing is important to know: the right to education is a property and liberty right secured by the U.S. constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has strongly held this position. You have a right to fairness in your admittance to educational institutions and fairness in your academic evaluations and progress.
IMMIGRATION: F-1, M-1, J-1, OPT, and more...
Foreign studetns often have a lot of questions about school enrollment. You Designated School Officials (DSOs) will have a lot of answers for you. You should keep in close touch with your international student's office. Matt has been honored to help advise DSOs when things get tricky. Matt can also talk to you about alternative ways to achieve education in the U.S. Let's find out how you can best take advantage of the possibilities.
Immigration Status for students generally involves one of these categories:
- F-1 Status - for student seeking a degree program in pursuit of a Bachelor's or post-baccalaruete degree (Master's, JD, MD, PhD, etc.) at a U.S. institution. You must be able to show that you can afford your education, and you must continually maintain progress towards a degree. F-1 status provides ample opportunity for opportunities, including work authorization both during your program and after graduation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has an information page that contains much of the initial information for obtaining F-1 status. Find out more on the DHS Webpage. Streff Legal encourages those seeking U.S. immigration benefits to find information from reliable sources, such as a government website. However, Streff Legal encourages international students in the U.S. to seek the advice of an immigration lawyer at some point during your studies. Connecting with a U.S. immigration lawyer can help you maximize your best chances for long-term success if your goal is to remain in the U.S. through employment. Employment sponsorship is becoming increasing complicated. Attorney Matt at Streff Legal is happy to talk with students about long-term planning.
- M-1 Status - for students seeking education vocational and technical school programs. M-1 programs are typiclly limited to one year, and have much more restricted options for opportunities such as work authoriation.
- J-1 Exchange Visitors - J-1 visitors can come to the U.S. for many reasons, including engaging in a wide educaional opportunities. J-1 exchange visitors must be sponsored by an organization registered with the U.S. government. If a registered organization is willing to sponsor a program, J-1 status can be used for internships, training programs by a multinational company, high-school exchange programs, cultural programs such as the Au Pair nanny program, and many others. J-1 is also commonly used for foreign medical graduates. One of the major drawbacks to the J-1 exchange visitor program is that it often comes with a two-year home-residency requirement: meaning you must return to your home country and remain there for two years before you may seek many other U.S. immigration benefits, like Permanent Residence. This often makes obtaining those benefits difficult. Streff Legal may be able to help you find a waiver if you are subject to this requirement.
- E-3 Trainees - a very limited program for employees of non-U.S. companies seeking to obtain training in the U.S. This can be very useful for multi-national companies seeking to utilize training facilities in the U.S. to educate international employees.
Foreign Physicians or International Medical Graduates (IMGs) come to the U.S. to gain education through U.S. Residencies and Fellowships and share in the incredible wealth of medical knowledge and experience in this country. As an IMG, you may seek simply to engage with professionals here in the U.S., or you may be looking at employment in the U.S. as part of your long term goal. Visit Streff Legal's Physicains and Researchers page to learn more.
FOREIGN STUDENT EMPLOYMENT
If you graduate as a foreign F-1 student, you should have work authorization, which can often translate into longer-term possibilities. F-1 Students right now receive one year of Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment authorization after graduation, and an graduates from a STEM program are eligible for up to a 24-month extension. (STEM is for Science Technology Engineering or Math - find which degrees are eligible for STEM extensions here at the DHS website). OPT can be a good bridge to identifying an employer who will sponsor you for H-1B status or other immigration possibilities. (H-1B status is one of the most common employment-authorized options for professionals.) Contact Streff Legal to either start the process if you have found an employer, or to better know how to find an employer willing to sponsor you for employment authorization. Streff Legal has helped many OPT holders with advice on how to fine an employer willing to sponsor you for H-1B and how to talk to that employer about what is required for sponsorship.
F-1 Students are also eligible for on-campus employment and employment in a field related to their degree through Curricular Practical Training (CPT). PLEASE NOTE, though, that F-1 students who engage in certain pre-graduation employment, including one year of full-time CPT, may become ineligible for some or all post-completion OPT.
M-1 students have more limited work authorization possibilities, with few options for long-term employment.
F-1 SCHOOL TRANSFERS
Generally, you have five months to transfer schools, during which you can remain in F-1 status. You should ensure that the Designated School Official (DSO) at both your old and new school are involved in your transfer. The old school DSO must release your SEVIS record to the new school DSO. In order to maintain immigration status, you must be continually making progress on a degree.
F-1 Students must maintain regular progress towards earning a degree. Academic difficulty can be a significant obstacle. Not only can you face suspension from school, your suspension will end your status in the U.S. So, foreign students may have additional challenges when facing academic difficulties. Students in the U.S. do have rights, and given the implications of academic suspension or expulsion, a foreign student should seek an immigration attorney's advice.
Is language a barrier?
Language is a common barrier for foreign students seeking a U.S. education. Fortunately, foreign student can both start and continue their education in many language programs. A semester or two with an English language program can often make a significant difference to success in earning your degree in an F-1 program. A language program may also be an appropriate starting point for identifying a college of university in the U.S. F-1 students should be careful to ensure you maintain your status and have your school records properly transferred if using this option.