F-1 Student Visa Category

Who is Eligible

To be eligible for this type of visa, noncitizens must be qualified to, among other things, pursue a full course of study at an academic or language institution in the U.S. authorized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to admit foreign students.

What Office Has Jurisdiction

The SUNY international student office or advisor at each campus is responsible for, among other things, helping the student obtain the visa, monitoring student status, and authorizing the student to be engaged in curricular "practical training," which is defined later in this document.

The Research Foundation (RF) is not an educational institution for the purposes of obtaining an F-1 visa.

Duration of Status

The F-1 student will be admitted to the U.S. for the "duration of status" noted as "D/S" on both

How To Change From F-1 Student Status

An F-1 student may apply for a change to any other nonimmigrant status for which the student is eligible by completing either Form I-539, the Application to Extend Status/Change Nonimmigrant Status or the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), as appropriate, and submitting it to USCIS with the supporting documentation described in the instruction sheet attached to that form.

Employment Restrictions

An F-1 student may accept employment at the institution he or she is authorized to attend, or, if the institution is SUNY, with the Research Foundation, without prior approval from USCIS, provided:

Spouses and Dependents

The spouse and dependents, if any, of a holder of a F-1 visa are eligible for F-2 visa status. However, F-2 visa holders are not authorized to engage in any employment unless they qualify in their own right for a separate visa category that allows employment.

Practical Training

An F-1 student may be eligible to engage in temporary employment before and after completion of studies if the employment satisfies the criteria for practical training.

To be eligible for practical training, a student must have been in

Curricular Practical Training

"Curricular practical training" is a required practicum or other work/study program sponsored by employers in cooperation with the school as part of the student's established curriculum. It can take place only before completion of studies.

Authorization for curricular practical training is requested by the student and granted by the campus international student office or advisor. Students must have Form I-20 ID endorsed by the advisor to show eligibility to engage in curricular practical training and must identify on the form the specific employer involved, the location of the training, and the period of training authorized.

Restrictions During Curricular Practical Training

Students are not limited in the amount of curricular practical training they may utilize. Employment of more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time curricular practical training. Curricular practical training entailing employment of 20 or fewer hours per week is considered part time and requires concurrent course work during the academic year to maintain status as a full-time student.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

"Optional practical training" is employment directly related to a student's field of study. It can take place before and after completion of studies.

Optional practical training can take place at four times:

Restrictions During Optional Practical Training



For information about the Research Foundation's policy and procedures for the employment of persons with an F-1 visa, see F-1 Student Visa Holder Employment.

Change History


Change History

February 26, 2010

Added information on STEM extensions based on E-Verify participation

Effective Date: July 1995
Responsible Party: Office of Administration and Human Resources, Personnel Administration
Contact Information: 518-434-7080



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