Alien Students Classification

By December 8, 2016 No Comments

This classification relates to a bona fide student, seeking
temporary entry, who is qualified and intends to pursue a
full course of study, at a school approved by the Attorney

Also included in the nonimmigrant student classification
are the alien spouse and minor children of such an alien
student if accompanying or following to join him. Until
December, 1981, the law provided for one student category,
F-l. 1981 amendments divided non-immigrant students into
two classifications; F-l now applies only to students in
academic institutions. A new M-l relates to students in
non-academic and vocational schools. Spouse or child of
students are designated F-2 or M-2, respectively.1

Approved schools

The statute stipulates that the student must plan to
attend a specific school approved by the Attorney General
and that the school must agree to report to the Attorney
General the termination of attendance of each nonimmi
grant student. The schools thus play an important role in
the qualification of nonimmigrant students and in the con
tinuance of their status.

The statute requires that petitions for approval of schools
be considered by the Attorney General after consultation
with the Office of Education of the United States. The Office
of Education has advised that the following qualify as
approved schools without the need for further consultation:
(1) a school operated as a publ ic educat ional inst i tut ion by
Federal, state, or local government; (2) a school listed in
the current United States Office of Education publication,
“Accredited Postseeondary Institutions and Programs” or
“Education Directory, Higher Education”; or (3) a sec
ondary school operated by an institute of higher learning
listed in the foregoing publications. Before decision is made
on a petition filed by any other school the United States
Office of Education is consulted to determine whether the
school qualifies for approval under the statute.

Obligations of Approved Schools

The prospective student communicates in the first in
stance with the school, which must determine that the stu
dent intends to undertake a full course of study and that
he is qualified to do so. Ordinarily, this entails an adequate
understanding of the English language, although, the school
may make its own arrangements in this regard.

In some instances the student will come solely to study
the English language. Moreover, the consul and the ex
amining immigration officer also may gauge the adequacy
of the student’s knowledge of English and other prelimi
nary qualifications.

The school must submit a report if the student fails to
register personally within 60 days of the time expected,
does not carry a full course of study, does not attend classes
to the extent normally required, or his attendance is termi

Terms of admission

Before 1979, the student’s initial span of admission was
fixed by the admitting immigration officer, and did not
exceed one year, but he could apply for extensions of stay
to complete his course of study.

Currently, the student is admitted for the duration of
his studies in the United States.

The presentation by the alien of a certificate of eligibility
(Form 1-20), executed by the approved school he will at
tend, is regarded by the consul as prima facie evidence of
the student’s acceptance by an approved school, and is
surrendered to the admitting immigration officer.6 If the
student wishes to make a temporary visit abroad, the school
he is attending will furnish him a new Form 1-20. This form
can be used for any number of reentries following tempo
rary absences within one year after its issuance.


Student status ordinarily will not be approved in the
first instance if the student has insufficient funds, and expects
to pay his way only by accepting employment. However,
in some situations he can arrange initially with the school
to accept part-time employment on the campus, provided it
will not displace a United States resident.

Unforeseen circumstances arising after the course of
study has commenced may result in economic need, which
makes employment necessary. However, no student may
accept employment in the United States unless he applies
for and obtains permission in advance.

Sometimes the school requires or recommends employs
ment for practical training in connection with the course of
study. The district director may permit this employment
for a 6-month period, subject to extension for not over one
additional 6-month period. An application for practical
training must be accompanied by a recommendation of the
school and its certification, upon information and belief,
that such training will be unavailable to him in his country.

On campus employment under the terms of a scholarship,
fellowship, or assistantship, by a student pursuing a full
course of study, is deemed part of his academic program.
Service permission is not required for the acceptance of
such on-campus employment, or any other on-campus em
ployment which will not displace a United States citizen

It should be noted, however, that there is no provision in
the statute or regulations for approval of employment by
an alien admitted as the spouse of a student. The accept
ance of employment by such an alien is a violation of status
incurring deportation.

Francisco Hernandez

Author Francisco Hernandez

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