F-1 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the F-1 visa?

The F-1 visa is for foreign students who wish to pursue academic or language training programs in the U.S.

How do I qualify for an F-1 visa?

To qualify for an F-1 visa, you must have a valid acceptance offer from a U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-approved school, be able to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to cover tuition and living expenses, and have the intent to return to your home country after completing your studies.

Can I work on an F-1 visa?

F-1 visa holders can work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full-time during school breaks. They may also be eligible for off-campus employment under certain circumstances, such as Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

How long can I stay in the U.S. on an F-1 visa?

F-1 visa holders are typically allowed to stay in the U.S. for the duration of their academic program and may also have an optional practical training period (usually 12 months) after completion of studies.

Can I transfer to a different school while on an F-1 visa?

Yes, you can transfer to a different SEVP-approved school while on an F-1 visa. You must follow proper transfer procedures and notify your current school of your intent to transfer.

Can I travel outside the U.S. while on an F-1 visa?

Yes, you can travel outside the U.S. and re-enter while on an F-1 visa, but you should have a valid F-1 visa stamp in your passport, a Form I-20 with a valid travel signature, and all required documentation.

Can I bring my family members with me on an F-1 visa?

F-1 visa holders can bring their spouse and unmarried children under 21 to the U.S. as dependents on F-2 visas. F-2 visa holders are not allowed to work in the U.S. but can attend school on a part-time basis.

What are the requirements for maintaining F-1 visa status?

To maintain F-1 status, you must:

Maintain a full-time course load during the academic year.

Make satisfactory academic progress.

Report any changes in your address or academic program to your school’s designated school official (DSO).

Not work off-campus without proper authorization.

Can I change my educational level or program of study on an F-1 visa?

Yes, you can change your educational level or program of study while on an F-1 visa. You must inform your DSO and follow proper procedures for updating your Form I-20.

Can I apply for a green card (permanent residency) while on an F-1 visa?

While it is possible to apply for a green card while on an F-1 visa, it typically requires meeting specific eligibility criteria and going through the appropriate immigration processes, which may or may not be related to your student status.

Can I work in the U.S. after completing my studies on an F-1 visa?

You may be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completing your studies, which allows you to work in your field of study for up to 12 months (or up to 36 months for STEM graduates) without changing your visa status.
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Nat Mohan
Nat Mohan
I've had the pleasure of working with DLG on various petitions over the past few years. US immigration could be quite complex and overwhelming making knowledgeable, trustworthy help critical to successfully navigate through the process. The team at DLG (Dana, Leyla, Jennifer, Melisa) are extremely knowledgeable, thorough, patient, transparent and responsive. Definitely recommend them!!
Kai-Wen Yang
Kai-Wen Yang
Appreciate the Davidson Law Group for helping me secure approval for my H1b visa. The paralegal working with me was very responsive in answering the questions I had (usually always responded to my messages the day of my inquiry) and the answers were always detailed and professional. Would recommend working with the law group!
Excellent immigration team!
Priyadarshani Ghorpade
Priyadarshani Ghorpade
Liviu Mosnoi
Liviu Mosnoi
I had an amazing experience with Davidson Law Group for my immigration case. Their team was incredibly professional, knowledgeable, and attentive, making the entire process smooth and successful. I highly recommend them to anyone needing expert immigration legal support.
Chinmay Warang
Chinmay Warang
To the entire Davidson Law Group team, thank you so much for all the support during the past three years of my immigration journey in the US. They were especially supportive and responsive to all my queries about the different visas and were always prompt and kind. I especially appreciated it when Leyla got back to me beyond working hours on a Friday with, "Congratulations, your H1B has been picked." It definitely made my and my close ones' weekend a tad better. I would recommend them for sure just because I appreciated their humane approach to all of their cases. Kudos to all of you.

Dana Davidson - Full Bio

Dana T. Davidson holds degrees from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and State University of New York at Stony Brook and has been practicing immigration law since 2003 in New York and nationwide. She represents corporations, individuals, and families in a broad range of immigration matters. Attorney Davidson has offices in New York City and Glen Cove.


  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, New York
  • Juris Doctor – 1988
  • Honors: Moot Court Board, Member, Judge
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York
  • Bachelor of Arts – 1982
  • Major: Political Science
  • Concentration: Business

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Safe Passage Project, Volunteer Attorney, 2013-Present
  • Educating the Educators, Founder, 2012-Present
  • Momentum Project, Board Member, 1991-1994 Bar Admission
  • New York, Eastern District
  • New York, Southern District
  • Washington, D.C.

Speaking Engagements
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Berlin, Germany, Speaker on “Public Charge” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa, Speaker: “Practice Management in the New Age” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Madrid, Spain, Speaker: “El Traje de Luces: Self-Sponsored Petitions – EB-1A and NIW”  AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2017, Brussels, Belgium, Speaker: “Continuing Blanket L Challenges”
  • Safe Passage Project, March 2017, Speaker: “Representing Unaccompanied Minors: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the Effects of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2016, Speaker: “It’s Not About Money: I-864”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2016, Vienna, Austria, Speaker: “K-Visa: Differences Between K-1 and I-130 Processing”
  • New York Institute of Technology’s Center for Entrepreneurship, January 2016, Entrepreneur/Executive-in-Residence
  • AILA Fall Conference 2015, London, UK, Speaker: Impact of joint sponsors on family-based cases
  • Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Business Education Program, October 2014, “What is required to grow a business?”
  • Dowling College, May 2013, Keynote Speaker at the first annual Latino Summit at Dowling College
  • International Taxation Conference, 2010