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Students and Exchange Visitors
U.S. Federal Tax Information
Aliens temporarily present in the United States as students, trainees, scholars, teachers, researchers, exchange visitors and cultural exchange visitors are subject to special rules with respect to the taxation of their income.
10 Tips for Applying for an F-1 Visa
1. TIES TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY. Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. “Ties” to your home country are the things that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans and career prospects in your home country. Each person’s situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific intent to immigrate. If you overstayed your authorized stay in the U.S. previously, be prepared to explain what happened clearly and concisely, with documentation if available.
2. ENGLISH. Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches! If you are coming to the United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home country.
3. SPEAK FOR YOURSELF. Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family. A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high school program and need your parents there is case there are questions, for example about funding, they should wait in the waiting room.
4. KNOW THE PROGRAM AND HOW IT FITS YOUR CAREER PLANS. If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to explain how studying in the U.S. relates to your future professional career when you return home.
5. BE BRIEF. Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute of the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your answers to the officer’s questions short and to the point.
6. ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION. It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify. Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time, if you’re lucky.
7. NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE EQUAL. Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the US as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the U.S.
8. EMPLOYMENT. Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any circumstances, be employed in the U.S. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or her time while in the U.S. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.
9. DEPENDENTS REMAINING AT HOME. If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular officer gains the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time, it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.
10. MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.
Taken from NAFSA website.
How do I know if I am eligible to extend my stay in the United States?
You may apply for an extension of stay in the United States if:
- You were lawfully admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant;
- You have not committed any act that makes you ineligible to receive an immigration benefit;
- There is no other factor that requires you to depart the United States prior to extending status (for example, a USCIS officer may determine that you should obtain a new visa prior to extending your status); and
- You can submit an application for an extension of stay by mail or you can file online using USCIS ELIS for an extension of stay before the expiration date on your Form I-94. (There are certain very limited circumstances under which USCIS will excuse a late submission.)
Please note: Your passport must be valid for your entire requested period of stay in the United States.
Waiver of the Exchange Visitor Two-Year Home-Country Physical Presence Requirement
Certain exchange visitors (J-1) are subject to a two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires you to return to your home country for at least two years at the end of your exchange visitor program. This is also known as the foreign residence requirement under U.S. law, Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(e). If you are unable to return to your home country to fulfill the two-year requirement, you must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security prior to changing status in the United States or being issued a visa in certain categories for travel to the United States.
Eligibility for a Waiver
Select Eligibility Information for details about which J-1 exchange visitors are subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement and whether a waiver of this requirement is available to you.
How-to-Apply Instructions and the J-1 Waiver Recommendation Application
Select Instructions and Online DS-3035 to learn more and access the online form to request a recommendation for a waiver of the two-year home-country physical presence requirement from the Department of State’s Waiver Review Division.
How do I apply for U.S. citizenship?
U.S. citizenship provides many rights, but also involves many responsibilities. Thus, the decision to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization is important. In most cases, a person who wants to naturalize must first be a permanent resident. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you gain many rights that permanent residents or others do not have, including the right to vote. To be eligible for naturalization, you must first meet certain requirements set by U.S. law.
What are the basic requirements to apply for naturalization?
The process of applying for U.S. citizenship is known as naturalization. In order to be eligible for naturalization, you must first meet certain requirements required by U.S. immigration law.
Generally, to be eligible for naturalization you must:
- Be age 18 or older; and
- Be a permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years or 3 years, depending on how you obtained status); and
- Be a person of good moral character; and
- Have a basic knowledge of U.S. government (this, too, can be excepted due to permanent physical or mental impairment); and
- Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; and
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
There are exceptions to this rule for someone who at the time of filing:
- Is 55 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 15 years; or
- Is 50 years old and has been a permanent resident for at least 20 years; or
- Has a permanent physical or mental impairment that makes the individual unable to fulfill these requirements.
When can I apply for naturalization?
You may be able to apply for naturalization if you are at least 18 years of age and have been a permanent resident of the United States:
- For at least 5 years; or
- For at least 3 years during which time you have been, and continue to be, married to and living in a marriage relationship with your U.S. citizen husband or wife; or
- Have honorable service in the U.S. military.
Certain spouses of U.S. citizens and/or members of the military may be able to file for naturalization sooner than noted above.
If you are abroad, and a U.S. consular ocer has determined that you are ineligible for an immigrant visa or nonimmigrant K or V visa because you are inadmissible to the United States, then you may be able to file an application for a waiver of inadmissibility.
If you have been removed from the United States and need permission to reapply, in addition to a waiver of inadmissibility, you may be able to seek permission to reapply for entry into the United States at the same time you request a waiver of your ground(s) of inadmissibility. is change will aect you if you are abroad and are fling:
- Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
- Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission to the United States Aer Deportation or Removal (if needed, and led together with Form I-601)
See the flow chart here.
How do I help my fiancé(e) become a U.S. permanent resident?
A U.S. citizen who wishes to marry a non-U.S. citizen or permanent resident can help their fiancé(e) obtain permanent residence in different ways. One way is to apply for a fiancé(e) visa if your fiancé(e) is overseas and you want to marry in the United States. This visa lets your fiancé(e) enter the United States for 90 days so that your marriage ceremony can take place in the United States. Once you marry, your spouse can apply for permanent residence and remain in the United States while we process the application. If you choose this method, file a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).
What are the basic eligibility requirements for a fiancé(e) petition?
You must be a U.S. citizen to file a fiancé(e) petition. In your petition, you must show that:
- You are a U.S. citizen;
- You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States;
- You are both free to marry; and
- You have met each other in person within 2 years before you file this petition.
However, there are two exceptions that require a waiver:
- If the requirement to meet your fiancé(e) in person would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; or
- If you prove that the requirement to personally meet your fiancé(e) would result in extreme hardship to you.