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Houston Immigration Lawyers > Blog > Immigration > What Is The Difference Between F-1 And J-1 Status For Students?

What Is The Difference Between F-1 And J-1 Status For Students?


Students who are not U.S. citizens and are current citizens of foreign countries often come to the United States to live and to study, and in many cases to conduct research. Generally speaking, visitors to institutions of higher education, including colleges and universities in the United States, will seek F-1 or J-1 visas. Yet these visas have important distinctions, and it is important to work with an immigration attorney in Houston to determine which type of visa you should be applying for and what requirements you will need to meet. At BBA Immigration, we can provide you with more information about F-1 and J-1 visas, and how they may apply to you.

What is an F-1 Visa? 

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), F-1 visas are specific visas for academic students. These types of visas are designed for foreign citizens who plan 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.” To be eligible, the program you are enrolled in must be one that will culminate in a degree or a certificate, and it must be authorized to accept international students.

What is a J-1 Visa? 

J-1 visas are specifically for “exchange visitors,” which usually means a student or a researcher or scholar who is coming to teach, study, or engage in research at an academic institution in the United States. These visas do not require enrollment in a program that will culminate in a degree or certificate.

What Do I Need to Know About F-2 and J-2 Visas? 

F-2 visas and J-2 visas are for dependents. Accordingly, if you are eligible for an F-1 visa, you may be able to bring your dependents with you to the United states on an F-2 visa. Similarly, if you are eligible for a J-1 visa, you may be able to bring your dependents with you on a J-2 visa.

How Might an M-1 Visa Apply? 

In addition to F-1 and J-1 visas (and F-2 and J-2 visas for dependents of F-1 and J-1 visa holders), certain students might also seek an M-1 visa instead of an F-1 or J-1 visa. In general, M-1 student visas are intended for vocational students, which the USCIS defines as “students in vocational or other nonacademic programs, other than language training.” In other words, if you are seeking to come to the U.S. as a student but will be training outside an educational institution, an M-1 visa could be applicable to you. In most cases, individuals who may be eligible for an F-1 or J-1 visa will not be eligible for an M-1 visa, and vice versa.

Contact an Experienced Houston Immigration Attorney 

If you have any questions about your visa classification or status, or if you require assistance with an F-1 visa or another type of student or research visa, you should get in touch with an experienced Houston immigration attorney at BBA Immigration. Our firm can provide you with more information about the distinctions between F-1 and J-1 visas, as well as additional information about bringing dependents with you to the U.S. on F-2 or J-2 visas while you are studying or researching at a university or other institution of higher education in the United States. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us to find out more about your options and how we can help.



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