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Foreign students working in the U.S. while studying

It is not uncommon for foreign students to study in the United States. Whether an immigrant student is working on an undergraduate, Masters or professional degree in Florida, the student might seek to make an income while studying. While some academic programs are strict about employment during an exchange program, others promote it so the student could gain experience and the possibility to work in the U.S. following graduation.

There are two types of student visas that an immigrant could use to enter the U.S. to study. The F-1 visa is for academic students and allows students to enter the country as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, high school, elementary school or other academic institutions or language training programs. The other student visa is a M-1 visa, which is for vocational or other nonacademic programs not including language training.

If a student is in the U.S. on a F-1 visa, the person is not allowed to work off-campus during their first academic year; however, the student may accept on-campus work that is subject to restrictions and conditions. There are three types of off-campus work that F-1 students can engage in after their first academic year. This includes Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Optional Practical Training.

In contrast, M-1 students are only allowed to engage in practical training after they have completed their studies. Regardless of when a M-1 or F-1 student obtains student employment, the type of job the student obtains must be related to their area of study. Additionally, the designated school official authorized to maintain the student and exchange visitor information system must authorize it.

Students dealing with this or other employment immigration issue should ensure that the student understands their situation and how best to address it. Immigration issues can become complex and require much paperwork. Because of that, it is imperative that immigrants are aware of their rights and options.

Source: Uscis.gov, "Students and Employment," accessed March 14, 2016

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