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F-1/M-1 Status for Students

Written by Henry J. Chang

Special Note on Implementation of SEVIS

General

The final regulations for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System ("SEVIS") were published on December 11, 2002. The regulation becomes effective January 1, 2003. The mandatory compliance date for all authorized schools to begin utilizing SEVIS is January 30, 2003.

SEVIS implements §641 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 ("IIRIRA"), which requires United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") to collect current information on an ongoing basis from schools and exchange programs relating to nonimmigrant foreign students and exchange visitors during the course of their stay in the United States. The USA Patriot Act amended §641 to require full implementation of SEVIS prior to January 1, 2003. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 adds and clarifies the requirement to collect information and adds a requirement that an educational institution report any failure of an alien to enroll no later than 30 days after the registration deadline.

SEVIS will maintain information on foreign students and exchange visitors in order to verify that they arrive in the United States, show up and register at the school or exchange program, and properly maintain their status during their stay. SEVIS provides for the issuance of a new SEVIS I-20 to replace the current Form I-20A-B and Form I-20M-N. References to the older forms should be read with this fact in mind.

SEVIS Reporting Requirements

No later than 30 days following the deadline for class registration, the authorized school is required to report that the student failed to register. In addition, during each term and semester, no later than 30 days after the deadline for registering for classes, schools are required to report the following registration information:

  • Whether the student has enrolled in the school, dropped below a full course of study without prior authorization by the Designated School Official ("DSO"), or failed to enroll;
  • The current address of each enrolled student; and
  • The start date of the student's next session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter.

In addition, within 21 days of a change of any information, schools will be required to report the following information:

  • Any student who has failed to maintain status or complete his or her program;
  • A change of the student's or dependent's legal name or U.S. address;
  • Any student who has graduated early or prior to the program end date;
  • Any disciplinary action taken by the school against the student as a result of the student being convicted of a crime; and
  • Any other notification request may be SEVIS with respect to the current status of the student.

The final regulation also clarifies various issues, the most important of which are addressed below.

General

The Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") contains two similar provisions for alien students. The first, which can be described as relating to academic students provides at INA §101(a)(15)(F):

(F)(i) an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning, who is a bona fide student qualified to pursue a full course of study and who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing such a course of study at an established college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program in the United States, particularly designated by him and approved by the Attorney General after consultation with the Secretary of Education, which institution or place of study shall have agreed to report to the Attorney General the termination of attendance of each nonimmigrant student, and if any such institution of learning or place of study fails to make reports promptly the approval shall be withdrawn, and (ii) the alien spouse and minor children of any such alien if accompanying him or following to join him.

The second category relates to vocational or nonacademic students and provides at INA §101(a)(15)(M):

(M)(i) an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning who seeks to enter the United States temporarily and solely for the purpose of pursuing a full course of study at an established vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution (other than in a language training program) in the United States particularly designated by him and approved by the Attorney General, after consultation with the Secretary of Education, which institution shall have agreed to report to the Attorney General the termination of attendance of each nonimmigrant nonacademic student and if any such institution fails to make reports promptly the approval shall be withdrawn, and (ii) the alien spouse and minor children of any such alien if accompanying him or following to join him.

The visa classification symbol for an academic student is F-1. The student's spouse or child is designated F-2. The visa symbol for a student at a vocational or other nonacademic institution is M-1. The student's spouse or child is designated M-2.

In order to qualify for F-1 or M-1 status, the alien must first apply to, and be accepted by, an established academic institution in the United States authorized to enroll foreign students. A student must submit a written application to the school he or she wishes to attend and establish his or her financial ability to pay for all costs associated with the education sought.

Upon the school's acceptance of the alien, it will issue a SEVIS Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, or a SEVIS Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status-For Vocational Students. However, the school must first determine that the student meets its academic requirements for admission, that the student is sufficiently fluent in the English language (or must first complete an English language program before enrolling in the intended program), and that the student has sufficient funds to pay for tuition, fees, and living costs.

An alien student seeking an F-1 or M-1 visa abroad does not need to have advance authorization from USCIS to study in the United States (i.e. an approved petition). The prospective student instead applies for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. consulate nearest to his or her place of residence outside the United States. In the case of a Canadian citizen or other visa-exempt alien, the prospective student will simply apply for admission to the United States at a port of entry. The inspecting officer will review the SEVIS Form I-20 and the alien's supporting documents in the same manner and admit the alien if eligibility is shown.

F-1 Status Prohibited for Public Elementary School or Public Adult Education Programs

Section 625 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 ("IIRAIRA") amends INA §214 to bar F1 nonimmigrant student status for an alien who seeks to attend a public elementary school or a public adult education program. Entry to attend a public secondary school is also prohibited unless the aggregate period of F1 status does not exceed a year and the alien reimburses the school for the costs of providing education. An alien who obtains an F1 visa to attend a private school is deemed to have violated F1 status if the alien then transfers to a public school (including publicly funded adult education programs or adult education language training programs), unless (in the case of a secondary school) the student meets the above conditions. The section applies to aliens who obtain F1 student status after the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment (November 30, 1996) and includes aliens whose status is extended after that period. Please also review the new ground of exclusion for student visa abusers contained in INA §212(a)(6)(G).

Requirement of a Full Course of Study

General

According to 8 CFR §214.2(f) (6) and 8 CFR §214.2(m)(9), it is a requirement for F-1 or M-1 status that successful completion of the course of study will lead to the attainment of a specific educational or professional objective. The regulations state that the "full course of study" requirement for F-1 academic students will be satisfied in the following situations:

  • postgraduate study or postdoctoral study or research at a college or university, or undergraduate or postgraduate study at a conservatory or religious seminary, certified by a designated school official as a full course of study;

  • Undergraduate study at a college or university, certified by a designated school official to consist of at least 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term, except when the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the current term;

  • Study for at least 12 hours weekly, or its equivalent, in a postsecondary language, liberal arts, fine arts, or other nonvocational program at a school that confers associate or other degrees or whose credits are accepted unconditionally by at least three institutions of higher learning;

  • Study in any other language, liberal arts, fine arts, or other nonvocational training program, certified by a designated school official to consist of at least 18 hours of classroom attendance a week if the dominant feature of the course is classroom attendance, and 22 hours weekly if the dominant feature is laboratory work; or

  • Study in a primary or secondary school for not less than the minimum number of hours prescribed by the school for normal progress towards graduation.

The regulations also state that the "full course of study" requirement for M-1 nonacademic students will be satisfied in the following situations:

  • Study at a community college or junior college certified by a school official to consist of at least 12 semester or quarter hours of instruction per academic term, except where the student needs a lesser course load to complete the course of study during the current term;

  • Study for at least 12 hours weekly or its equivalent in a postsecondary vocational or other business school, but not in a language training program except one in the English language at the school where he or she will engage in a vocational or technical course, which confers associate or other degrees or whose credits are accepted unconditionally by at least three institutions of higher learning;

  • Study in a vocational or other nonacademic curriculum, but not in a language training program except one in the English language at the school where he or she will engage in the vocational or technical training, certified by a designated school official to consist of 18 hours of classroom attendance a week if the dominant part of the course of study consists of classroom instruction, or at least 22 hours a week if the dominant part of the course of instruction consists of shop or laboratory work; or

  • Study in a vocational or other nonacademic high school curriculum, for not less than the minimum hours prescribed by the school for normal progress towards graduation.

The SEVIS regulations clarify that, in case of an illness or medical condition, an F-1 student may be authorized to reduce course load for a period not to exceed an aggregate of 12 months. In such cases, the DSO must re-authorize the reduction each term or session and must update this authorization in SEVIS. The 12-month aggregate limit is applied per program level. If the student completes one program and advances to a different program, the DSO may authorize another reduction in course load. USCIS will allow DSOs to accept medical documentation provided by licensed medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, or licensed clinical psychologists to substantiate the student's reason for dropping below a full course of study for illness or medical condition. A DSO may reduce the course load of an M-1 student also, but the period may not exceed an aggregate of 5 months.

The SEVIS regulations also clarify that, during the course of study within one program level, an F-1 student may be authorized on one occasion only to reduce his or her course load due to academic difficulties and must resume a full course of study at the start of the next available term, excluding the summer session. Such an F-1 student must still be taking at least one class or half the clock hours required for a full course of study. However, a DSO cannot authorize an M-1 student to reduce his or her course load due to academic difficulties.

The SEVIS regulations clarify that USCIS will allow elementary and secondary students to count distance education and on-line courses in their determination of a full course of study.

Special Situations

Certain Asian Students

F-1 students whose means of financial support comes from South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines who find it necessary to reduce their normal course of study will be considered to be maintaining status and pursuing a full course of study. See the section below entitled "Suspension of Employment Authorization Requirements for Certain Students" for further information.

Commuter Students

In the past, USCIS permitted part-time commuter students from Canada and Mexico to enter as visitors. Such students were not eligible for F or M status because they were not engaged in a full course of study. However, this practice ended on May 22, 2002.

Under pressure, USCIS published an interim regulation that permitted part-time commuter students to qualify under F or M status. The regulation became effective on August 27, 2002 and permits border commuter students to enroll in an approved school with a lesser course load than is otherwise required for F and M students, on account of their unique educational circumstances.

Specifically, for a Canadian or Mexican nonimmigrant alien who meets all other requirements applicable to the F or M classification and who is commuting to a school in the United States within 75 miles of the border, the school's Designated School Official ("DSO") may approve the student's attendance with a course load below that otherwise required under the general rules. However, the student must still be enrolled in a "full course of study" at the school, that is, a course of study that leads to the attainment of a specific educational, professional, or vocational objective, although at a reduced course load for each semester or term.

Establishing Eligibility

To establish eligibility for a student visa, the applicant must demonstrate:

  • Acceptance for attendance by an academic or vocational institution or in a language program approved by the Attorney General, as evidenced by SEVIS Form I-20 issued by the school that has agreed to enroll the student;

  • Proficiency in the English language, or enrollment in English language courses leading to proficiency, if required by SEVIS Form I-20;

  • The availability of funds sufficient to defray all expenses during the entire period of anticipated study in the United States; and

  • Existence of a residence abroad that the prospective student has no intention of abandoning, coupled with an intent to depart the United States upon completion of the anticipated course of study.

Duration of Stay

F-1 students are admitted for the duration of status. According to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(5)(i), the term "duration of status" is defined as the time necessary to pursue a full course of study at any educational level (e.g., bachelor's, master's, doctoral, or post-doctoral) in the same school, and any authorized practical training, plus 60 days thereafter within which to depart from the United States. The SEVIS regulations provide that the student may not enter the United States under student status more than 30 days prior to the program start date.

According to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(5)(iii), F-1 students are considered in status during the summer vacation, or for a single annual vacation during a school trimester or quarter, if he or she intends to register for the next term and has completed the equivalent of an academic year before taking the vacation. If the student's schooling is interrupted by illness he or she may be permitted to retain student status pursuant to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(5)(iv) if he or she can establish that a full course of study will be resumed after treatment.

Under 8 CFR §214.2(m)(5), M-1 nonacademic students are admitted for one year or for the period necessary to complete their course of study plus 30 days thereafter to depart, whichever is less.

According to the SEVIS regulations, in instances such as death in the family, unforeseen financial hardship, or a determination that the educational program is not appropriate for the student, a DSO may authorize the student to withdraw from classes. In such cases, the student will be given a grace period during which he or she may make and complete arrangements for travel and departure. However, in instances where the student has never registered at the school or withdraws without DSO authorization, the student is not entitled to the 15-day grace period.

Limitations on Duration of Status and Extensions of Stay

In completing the prospective F-1 academic student's SEVIS Form I-20, the school's Designated School Official is required to make a reasonable estimate based on the time an average foreign student would need to complete a similar program in the same discipline. A grace period of no more than one year may be added to this estimate.

An F-1 student who is unable to meet the program completion date designated on the SEVIS Form I-20 must apply to the Designated School Official for a program extension before the completion date. In such cases, the extension may be granted by the school if the Designated School Official certifies that:

  • The student has continually maintained status; and
  • The delay is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as changes of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, documented illnesses.

Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for an extension. An F-1 student who is unable to complete the educational program within the time specified on the SEVIS Form I-20 is considered to be out of status, and will regain student status only by applying for reinstatement.

An extension may be granted to an M-1 student for one year or for the period of time necessary to complete the course of study plus 30 days to depart, whichever is less. An M-1 student whose studies have been interrupted by illness may be granted an extension if the student establishes that he or she will pursue a full course of study upon recovery from the illness.

The SEVIS regulations provide that the cumulative time of extensions that can be granted to an M-1 student is limited to a period of three years from the M-1 student's original start date, plus 30 days. No extension can be granted to an M-1 student if the M-1 student is unable to complete the course of study within three years of the original program date. In order to qualify, the M-1 student must establish that:

  • He or she is a bona fide nonimmigrant currently maintaining status;
  • Compelling educational or medical reasons have resulted in the delay; and
  • He or she is able to, and in good faith intends to, continue to maintain that status for the period for which the extension is granted.

Readmission

A student returning from a temporary visit abroad will be readmitted to continue his or her studies upon presentation of:

  • A properly endorsed SEVIS Form I-20, if there has been no substantive change in the information on the student's most recent SEVIS Form I-20; or

  • A new SEVIS Form I-20, if there has been a substantive change.

In addition, a student who leaves the United States will also be subject to visa and passport requirements. If the student's visa has expired, the student must obtain a new student visa from a U.S. consulate before seeking to return to the United States. However, the student may be entitled to automatic revalidation of an expired visa after travel solely to contiguous territory. Please refer to the article on revalidation, which appears elsewhere in this handbook.

School Transfers

A bona fide F-1 student may transfer to a new school by dealing with a Designated School Official without having to request approval from the Service. Such a transfer may be accomplished by a student who is pursuing a full course of study and who desires to pursue a full course of study at a different school and is financially able to attend the new school.

A student who is still in status thus can change schools at any time and for any reason, within the prescribed time limitations, by obtaining an acceptance by the new school and notifying the DSO of the current school. As SEVIS will only allow a student's record to be available to one school at a time, once the student has determined the school where he or she will be transferring, the DSO of the current school will update SEVIS to reflect the transfer and will enter the release date for the student (usually the end of the current term). When the release date is reached, the new school will have access to the student's SEVIS record and will be able to issue the transferring student a new SEVIS I-20. In addition, the old school will be unable to access the student's SEVIS records after the release date.

If an F-1 student moves from one degree program to another at the same institution, DSO can make the appropriate entry in SEVIS. However, a student who is not pursuing a full course of study who wants to transfer to another school must apply to the district director for reinstatement to student status.

The SEVIS regulations limit the length of time that a student may remain in the United States while transferring between schools. The student may not remain in the United States between programs if he or she will not resume classes within 5 months of transferring out of the current school, or within 5 months of the program completion date as indicated on the Form I-20 issued by the current school, whichever date is earlier. In the case of a student authorized to engage in post-completion optional practical training ("OPT"), the student must be able to resume classes within 5 months of transferring out of the current school that recommended OPT or the date that the OPT authorization ends, whichever is earlier.

A nonacademic student (M-1) may not change educational objectives and may not transfer schools after six months' attendance unless the student is unable to continue at the original school due to circumstances beyond the student's control. If the student is permitted to transfer, he or she must:

  • Be a bona fide nonimmigrant;

  • Have been pursuing a full course of study at the school to which the student was last authorized to attend;

  • Intends to pursue a full course of study at the school to which the student intends to transfer; and

  • Be financially able to attend the school to which the student intends to transfer.

The SEVIS transfer process for M-1 students differs from F-1 students because M students must apply directly to USCIS in order to transfer schools. The M-1 SEVIS transfer process allows the M-1's new school to issue a SEVIS Form I-20 prior to the student's release date. The student may then apply to USCIS for a transfer without having to wait for the release date. The M-1 student may also begin attending the new school pending adjudication of the transfer request. However, if the request is subsequently denied after the student has begun his or her program at the new school, the SEVIS student record will be automatically terminated and the student will be considered out of status.

Violations of Status and Reinstatement

A violation of student status results in deportability. However, a student who has violated status sometimes be reinstated to student status if a bona fide desire to complete his or her studies is demonstrated. This relief is discretionary. According to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(16)(i) and 8 CFR §214.2(m)(16)(i) as amended by the SEVIS regulations, a student who has violated status may be reinstated, in the discretion of the district director, if the student:

  • Files a request for reinstatement on Form I-539 accompanied by a properly completed SEVIS Form I-20;

  • Has not been out of status for more than 5 months at the time of filing the request for reinstatement (or demonstrates that the failure to file within the 5 month period was the result of exceptional circumstances and that the student filed the request for reinstatement as promptly as possible;

  • Does not have a record of repeated or wilful violations of USCIS regulations;

  • Is currently pursuing or intends to pursue a full course of study at the school which issued the SEVIS Form I-20;

  • Has not been employed without authorization;

  • Is not deportable on any other ground other than INA §237(a)(1)(B) or INA §237(a)(1)(C)(i); and

  • Establishes that the violation resulted from circumstances beyond his or her control, or the violation relates to a reduction in the student's course load that would have been within the DSO's power to authorize and that he or she would suffer extreme hardship if not reinstated.

The SEVIS regulations provide that circumstances beyond the control of the foreign student might include inadvertance, oversight, or neglect on the part of the DSO, but do not include instances where a pattern of repeated violations or where a willful failure on the part of the student resulted in the need for reinstatement.

The SEVIS regulations permit a student's record to be administratively corrected in situations where the error in question resulted from potential technological errors or errors on the part of SEVIS.

Employment of Students

General

F-1 foreign students have seven ways to seek employment:

  • On-campus employment;

  • Off-campus employment due to severe economic hardship;

  • International organization internships;

  • Curricular practical training;

  • Optional practical training before completion of studies; and

  • Optional practical training after completion of studies.

The off-campus pilot program which was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 has now expired and will not be discussed. Employment authorization is automatically suspended under any of the above categories during a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage at the place of employment. Also, a student's employment can be resumed after a temporary trip abroad if there has been no change of circumstances. A student's spouse and children (F-2 or M-2) are not permitted to obtain employment.

On-Campus Employment

M-1 nonacademic students are not permitted to seek on-campus employment. However, F-1 academic students may seek on-campus employment without obtaining specific permission from USCIS if the student is engaged in a full course of study and the employment will not displace a U.S. resident.

The SEVIS regulations confirm that F-1 students may begin on-campus emploiyment prior to the start of classes. However, the DSO is not permitted to indicate a program start date more than 30 days prior to the start of classes for the purposes of on-campus employment.

On-campus employment must be performed on the school's premises (including a cafeteria or bookstore operated by a commercial firm) or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school and is an integral part of the school's educational program. No employment authorization document (EAD) or other endorsement by the Designated School Official or USCIS is required.

The on-campus employment must not exceed 20 hours a week during school. However, full time work on campus is permitted when the school is not in session, during summer vacation, or while awaiting the commencement of a new academic program for which the school has issued a SEVIS Form I-20. On-campus employment is permitted as long as the student maintains his or her status.

Authorization for on-campus employment may continue for the duration of the student's F-1 status.

Off-Campus Employment Due to Severe Economic Hardship

Off-campus employment authorization can be permitted based on an F-1 student's urgent financial need. Such a student may seek approval for part-time off-campus employment provided that:

  • He or she has been in good academic standing for at least one academic year;

  • The student is in good standing as a student and is carrying a full course of study;

  • The student has demonstrated that acceptance of employment will not interfere with the student's carrying on a course of study; and

  • The student has demonstrated that the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control and has demonstrated that on-campus employment is unavailable or otherwise insufficient to meet the needs that have arisen as a result of the unforeseen circumstances.

The student cannot work more than 20 hours a week when school is in session, but can work full time during holidays or school vacations.

Internships With an International Organization

An F-1 student who has been offered employment with an international organization that qualifies under the International Organizations Immunities Act may accept such employment upon the submission of an in-person application to USCIS office with jurisdiction over the student's place of residence. The application must include written certification from the organization that the proposed employment is within the scope of the organization's sponsorship.

Curricular and Optional Practical Training for F-1 Academic Students

Practical training permits an F-1 student to work off-campus in his or her field of study. In order to be eligible for practical training, the F-1 student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis in USCIS approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year. This includes students who, during their course of study, were enrolled in a study abroad program, if the student spent at least one academic year enrolled in a full course of study in the United States prior to studying abroad. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training.

There are two types of practical training: curricular practical training and optional practical training. Both are discussed below.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular practical training is a training program integral to an established curriculum. In such cases, the student alternates between the approved training and class room instruction.

As stated above, curricular practical training applies to programs that are considered "an integral part of an established curriculum." USCIS defines this term to mean that the proposed curricular practical training must be listed in the school's course catalogue with the number of credits awarded on completion, along with the name of the responsible faculty member and a description of the course featuring a clear definition of the course objectives.

Students enrolled in a college, university, conservatory or seminary are eligible to apply to the Designated School Official for authorization to participate in a curricular practical training program. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Exceptions to the nine-month in-status requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies which require immediate participation in curricular practical training.

Students who have received one year or more of full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion practical training.

Optional Practical Training

Pursuant to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(10)(ii) (as amended by the SEVIS regulations), optional practical training may be authorized in an occupation that is directly related to the student's major area of study:

  • During vacation periods when the school is not in session if the student is currently enrolled, and intends to register for the next term or session;

  • While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week; or

  • After completion of the course of study or, in the case of a bachelor, master, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent).

Optional practical training may take place either before (pre-completion) or after (post-completion) completion of studies. According to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(10), to qualify for either pre-completion or post-completion optional practical training, a student must satisfy two general qualifications:

  • The student must be lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis in a USCIS approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for at least nine consecutive months (one full academic year); and

  • The student must request authorization for practical training in a position that is directly related to the student's major field of study.

Pursuant to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(11), the total period of such authorization may not exceed twelve months. Any periods of pre-completion practical training will count toward the total twelve months of practical training that are allowed. Part-time practical training is deducted from the available practical training at one-half the full-time rate. According to 8 CFR §214.2(f)(10)(ii)(B), authorization to engage in practical training employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school.

The SEVIS regulations state that optional practical training applications may be filed up to 90 days prior to being enrolled for one full academic year, provided that the period of employment will not begin until after the completion of the full academic year. Post-completion applicants cannot request optional practical training more than 60 days after the completion of studies.

8 CFR §214.2(f)(10)(ii) and 8 CFR §214.2(f)(11) authorize post-completion optional practical training for up to twelve months, to take effect after the student has completed his or her course of study. He or she can obtain authorization to engage in post-completion training only once for the duration of student status. It is irrelevant that the student intends to continue another full course of study after completing the authorized practical training, since the student is allowed only a single one-year period of such training. The student must complete such practical training within a fourteen month period following completion of his or her studies. The student may not accept employment until he or she has been issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by USCIS.

Post Completion Optional Practical Training for M-1 Vocational Students

According to 8 CFR §214.2(m)(14)(i), M-1 students may obtain seek practical training only after completion of their course of study. Pursuant to 8 CFR §214.2(m)(14)(ii), the application for such permission must be submitted before the expiration of the student's authorized period of stay and not more than 90 days before the program end date. If practical training is authorized, the student can begin work only after receiving an EAD from USCIS. Pursuant to 8 CFR §214.2(m)(14)(iii), the M-1 student may be granted one period of practical training, fixed at one month for every four months of a full course of study, but not exceeding a total of six months.

A student temporarily absent after his or her practical training was authorized may be readmitted for the remainder of the authorized period. However, according to 8 CFR §214.2(m)(14)(iv), a student may not be readmitted to begin practical training that was not authorized before the student's departure. Pursuant to 8 CFR §214.2(m)(14)(v), a work stoppage caused by a certified labor dispute will suspend the M-1 student's practical training.

Suspension of Employment Authorization Requirements for Certain Students

A number of Asian countries are currently experiencing an extreme economic crisis as a result of a sharp drop in the value of their currencies. In order to deal with this crisis, USCIS recently amended the provisions of its regulations. A copy of this amendment is available here.

The amended regulation allows the Commissioner, by notice in the Federal Register, to permit specified F-1 students to engage in on-campus employment for more than 20 hours per week and to suspend the applicability of the eligibility requirements for off-campus employment authorization, where emergent circumstances exist. F-1 students who find it necessary to reduce their normal course of study in order to engage in this specially authorized employment will be considered to be maintaining status and pursuing a full course of study.

In a public notice published June 10, 1998, the Commissioner has authorized its application to F-1 students whose means of financial support comes from South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.


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