USCIS Issues New Policy Guidelines for F and M Students

By: Ujwala Bagal

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revealed new policy guidance for F and M students.

The F-1 category applies to nonimmigrants looking to enter the United States, to participate in academic programs.  This classification permits noncitizens to enter the United States to attend a college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, other academic institutions, or language training programs as a full-time student. The M-1 category applies to nonimmigrant vocational students attending a vocational program or other recognized nonacademic program (except language training programs).

The new guidance will merge preexisting policy to help explain the requirements for certain types of applications, including employment authorization, change of status, extension of stay, and reinstatement of status. The policy is applicable to students and their dependents, and will cover eligibility, school transfers, practical training, on-campus employment, and off-campus employment.

Notable and Significant Policy Updates

Specifically, the guidance clarifies that F students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields requesting to extend their optional practical training (OPT), can now do so while working for a start-up company. The start-up company must follow all training requirements, use E-Verify in good standing, and offer appropriate compensation comparable to other similar positions.

Additionally, it is specified that M or F students must have a residence outside the United States that they do not plan to abandon, in order to establish an intent to leave once they have concluded their temporary stay and their visa has expired. The intent to leave requirement may be satisfied even when a permanent labor certification or immigrant visa petition has been filed on behalf of the student.


If you have any case specific questions or would like assistance applying for an F or M visa, contact the trusted immigration attorneys at Chugh, LLP.

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