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Working in the United States
Students and Employment
If you would like to study as a full-time student in the United States, you will need a student visa. There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. These visas are commonly known as the F and M visas.
You may enter in the F-1 or M-1 visa category provided you meet the following criteria:
F-1 Student Visa
The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.
M-1 Student Visa
The M-1 visa (Vocational Student) category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training.
F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. There are various programs available for F-1 students to seek off-campus employment, after the first academic year. F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment, after they have been studying for one academic year. These three types of employment are:
M-1 students may engage in practical training only after they have completed their studies.
For both F-1 and M-1 students any off-campus employment must be related to their area of study and must be authorized prior to starting any work by the Designated School Official (the person authorized to maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)) and USCIS.
For more information on the Student and Exchange Visitors Program, see the “Student & Exchange Visitor Program, Immigration & Customs Enforcement” link to the right.
If you are a B-1 or B-2 Visitor who wants to enroll in school, please see the "Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors" link to the right.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/29/2013