Overview of Visa Categories
- An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a "full course of study" to achieve a specific educational or professional objective at an academic institution in the United States.
- Students are issued a Form I-20 to obtain F-1 status.
- F-1 students may be eligible for on-campus employment and may be eligible for off-campus employment authorization - Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) - if the employment is directly related to their major.
- An F-2 dependent is defined as the spouse and/or unmarried child (under the age of 21) of the primary F-1 visa holder.
- F-2 dependents are not eligible for any type of employment. They cannot work or receive compensation for services such as baby sitting, tutoring, etc.
- F-2 dependents cannot study full-time or in a degree program but may attend non-degree avocational or recreational courses on a part-time basis. These courses cannot be used in a degree program.
- An F-2 child must attend school beginning in September of the calendar year in which they turn 6 years old and until the age of 16.
- F-2 child dependents must change status before their 21st birthday or before marriage, whichever is sooner.
J-1 Exchange Visitors
- J-1 Exchange Visitors participate in the Exchange Visitor Program within a particular Exchange Visitor category.
- J-1 Students are usually in the College and University Student category.
- J-1 Scholars may be in the Professor and Research Scholar category, the Short Term Scholar category, the J-1 Specialist category or the J-1 Intern category.
- To be eligible for J-1 student status, a substantial portion of the participant's financial support must be from a source other than personal/family funds. . This can include Brandeis funding or a scholarship from another organization. Students with personal/or family funding only, are NOT eligible for J-1 status.
- Participation in the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program may subject the student/scholar to a two-year home country physical presence requirement.
- Students/scholars are issued a Form DS-2019 to obtain J-1 status.
- J-1 regulations require all exchange visitors and their dependents to maintain specific health insurance coverage.
- J-1 students may be eligible for Academic Training (AT). Its duration is equal to the length of study or 18 months, whichever is shorter. PhD students are eligible for up to 36 months of AT.
- A J-2 dependent is defined as the spouse and/or unmarried child (under the age of 21) of the primary J-1 visa holder.
- J-2 dependents may be eligible to apply for J-2 Employment Authorization.
- J-2 dependents are eligible to pursue a degree part-time or full-time at the college/university level. However, an F-1 or J-1 may be more appropriate for full-time study.
- A J-2 child must attend school beginning in September of the calendar year in which they turn 6 years old and until the age of 16.
- A J-2 child dependent must change their status before their 21st birthday or before marriage, whichever is sooner.
- The H-1B category is for an individuals who perform services in a specialty occupation.
- The employment must require a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent).
- For more information on H-1B status go to the International Scholars and Staff section of our website.
- The H-4 category is for sspouses and unmarried minor children (under 21 years of age) of an H-1B visa holder
- H-4 visa holders are admissible for the same time period as the H-1B.
- The H-4 spouse or child cannot be employed unless they are the beneficiary of an approved petition authorizing employment and have been granted a change of status to that category.
- An H-4 child must attend school beginning in September of the calendar year in which they turn 6 years old and until the age of 16.
- An H-4 adult may attend school and may individually be eligible for student status.
B-1 and B-2 Visitors
- The B nonimmigrant category permits temporary entry to the United States for either business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2).
- Individuals in the B category must intend to leave the United States at the end of the temporary stay.
- The B-1 category allows individuals to enter the U.S. to attend conventions, conferences, consultations and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.
- The B-2 category allows individuals to enter the U.S. to pursue legitimate activities of a recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature.
- The B-1/B-2 status does not have a corresponding dependent status. Each family member must apply for the visa individually.
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