Visas for Students
If you are interested in becoming a full-time student in the United States, you will need to acquire either an M-1 Student Visa or an F-1 Student Visa. To acquire temporary legalization with a student visa you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be enrolled in an educational program, a vocational program or a language-training program.
- Your academic institution must be approved by the USCIS.
- You must be enrolled as a student (full-time) at the academic institution.
- You must be proficient in the English language or be enrolled in classes leading to fluency
- You must have enough money to support yourself during the course of study
- You must maintain a home abroad to show that you have no intention of staying.
The F-1 Student Visa enables you to enter America as a full-time student at an accredited university, college, academic high school, elementary school or language training program. You must be enrolled in a course of study that culminates in a degree or certificate. Your school must also be authorized by the United States Federal Government to accept international students.
The M-1 Student Visa is for vocational students or students of non-academic programs (other than language courses).
Citizenship and the Military:
Members and certain veterans of the United States armed forces may be eligible for citizenship through their military service. Qualifying military service refers to participation in the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and certain branches of the National Guard.
Those who honorably serve in the United States Armed Services (at any time), will be deemed eligible to apply for citizenship; however, the applicant must satisfy the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be able to read, write and speak basic English
- Maintain permanent residency at the time of the application
- Possess strong moral character
- Have a knowledge of U.S history and government
- Have resided in the United States, continuously, for at least five years and have been physically present in the country for at least 30 months out of the 5 years preceding the application.
- Spouses and children of military members are also deemed eligible to apply for citizenship assuming they pass the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Establish that his or her spouse or parent is deployed abroad as an active service member
- Be present in the United States pursuant to admission for permanent residence or at the time of naturalization
- Be able to read, write and speak English
- Have a basic knowledge of United States’ government and history.
Legalization through Asylee or Refugee Status:
If you were admitted to the United States as a qualifying member of an asylee or as a refugee, you may apply for permanent residence 1 year after your entry into America. If you were granted asylum in America, you may apply for permanent residency 1 year after you secured your status.
To apply for a green card you must file the Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). If your asylum status is granted, you should file, in addition to Form I-485, a completed Form I-693 (Report of Medical Exam and Vaccination Record), a completed Form I-602 (Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability), a copy of your I-94 Card, a completed Form G-325A, two passport-style photos and certified copies of court records if you were ever arrested.
Form I-485 is also required if you are applying for a Green Card through Refugee status. In addition to Form I-485, you should enclose with your application two photos, Form G-28, Form G-325A, Form I-693 (only needed if there were medical grounds of inadmissibility at the time you arrived in America).
What Happens After I Acquire Legalization?
- After you acquire legalization you must obtain permanent residency (a green card) to live in the United States. All visas have expiration dates—if you stay in the United States past your expiration date your status will become illegal. Once you stay in the United States for at least five years as a permanent resident, demonstrate proficiency for English and knowledge for United States’ history and government, you may obtain citizenship. The primary motive for immigrants to acquire citizenship is to vote in public elections and assist their relatives immigrate to America.