“Indian students to study in the US” Every year, more than 2 lakh Indian students consider attending college in the United States. The US Embassy says that 20 percent of the foreign students who want to learn about new technologies, artificial intelligence, innovation, and entrepreneurship are Indian immigrants. The United States is a preferred destination for students who want to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) because of its high standards of education, cutting-edge universities, and diverse culture. However, in order to be eligible for relocation, students must have an F-1 student visa and a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status (SEVIS Form I-20). Before we continue ahead, how about we initially grasp the importance and job of the F-1 visa
What is an F-1 visa?
There are four visa categories for international students and visitors under US immigration law:
● F-1 visa for full-time students enrolled in a language-based program or academic institution.
● M-1 visa for full-time students for non-academic or vocational courses.
● M-3 or F-3 visa for Mexican or Canadian Citizens pursuing full-time academic (F-3) or vocational
● J-1 visa for participating in cultural exchange programs.
F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that enables students to enter the US provinces and attend a university or college, high school, seminary, language training program, elementary school, or other academic organization. Till now, Indian students holding an F-1 visa could avail of up to 12 months of optional practical training (OPT), pre or post-completion of their graduate studies in STEM. They could apply for another year of OPT when seeking a postsecondary degree at a higher level. However, the country plans to revamp the postgraduate employment visa and convert it to a work visa in order to attract international students. There were a few issues with this change.
How does an F-1 visa attract Indian students to the US?
With some of the best universities in the world that set high academic standards and provide rigorous practical training to prepare global students, the United States is already a hub for STEM fields. In any case, chasing after training in the US is costly, with costs changing by degree program, area, sort of college, and different elements. A typical program’s annual tuition costs between $32,000 and $60,000. Besides, living expenses are 241% more costly than in India, running between $10,000 to $18,000 per annum
Students with an F-1 visa can earn a living while also attending school full-time in this scenario. It allows students to work on campus for up to 40 hours per week during holidays and 20 hours per week during the session. In addition, the F-1 visa is valid for up to five years, during which time a student may notify the USCIS of their intention to change schools or academic programs.
After completing their academic program, F-1 visa holders are also permitted to work off-campus through OPT. The OPT program allows students to convert their student visa into an H-1B work visa for an initial period of three years for those who wish to remain in the United States for a longer period of time in order to find employment. However, USCIS used to take 150-210 days (5-7 months) to process Form I-765 for employment authorization, which caused delays and complications.
What are the revised provisions of an F-1 visa?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in September 2022 a revision to employment authorization that would take effect on March 6 in order to lengthen a student’s stay in the United States, reduce the backlog, and improve processing efficiency. Under this policy, students on F-1 visas who want to study STEM or its related subjects can choose to extend their OPT program for an additional 24 months in order to find work. They can either look for an employer willing to sponsor their work visas or apply for an H-1B work visa once the extension period ends.
Additionally, the revised F-1 visa provision emphasizes premium employment authorization processing. However, by completing Forms I-129, I-140, and I-765 for Employment Authorization and Form I-907 for Requesting Premium Processing Service, a student on an F-1 visa can apply for an H-1B work visa. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will expedite their review process and reduce turnaround time by 15 calendar days, down from 210.
How will premium processing benefit Indian students?
Under premium processing, shorter processing times and improved review efficiency will likely reduce student wait times and simplify the immigration process. An expedited application review will provide students with hands-on training through OPT in the US within a month and increase the likelihood of finding temporary employment shortly after graduation, particularly for Indian immigrants. Additionally, students can easily and concurrently fill out Form I-907 for a premium processing upgrade on paper or online. It aims to make operations more efficient and to make it easy for applicants, stakeholders, petitioners, and requestors to access the immigration system.
Many Indian students majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics have aspirations of working and studying in the United States. In 2022, the United States granted visas to 82,000 Indian student applications following the pandemic. However, in order to obtain an H-1B work visa, students who applied for OPT exposure or work authorization after graduation had to wait at least 210 days.
The USCIS recently made the employment authorization review process quick and efficient, easing this lengthy wait. To save time and effort, students can now select premium application processing for 15 days. Such approaches are ready to make schooling and work in the US more rewarding, smoothed out, and helpful coming down the line for understudies around the world.
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