A foreign student can either apply for a non-immigrant visa or permanent residency ("green card"). A non-immigrant visa allows an individual to live for a certain number of years in the United States for a specified purpose. In contrast, permanent residency allows an individual to live in the United States on an ongoing basis with few restrictions.

There are different temporary visas for many different purposes. The different temporary visa categories are classified by letters, as follows:

  • A: Diplomatic employees and their households
  • B: Business visitors or tourists (one of the most common temporary visas)
  • C: Passengers passing through at an airport or seaport
  • D: Previously assigned for crew members, but eliminated in June 2004
  • E: Investors or persons engaged in commerce
  • F: Students
  • G: Employees of international organizations, such as International Red Cross
  • H: Professionals, models, nurses, and cultural workers, temporary/seasonal workers, trainees (one of the most common temporary visas)
  • I: Representatives of international media
  • J: Exchange visitors, such as students, graduate medical trainees, professors and researchers, short-term scholars, camp counselors
  • K: Fiancés, fiancées, spouses of US citizens married abroad
  • L: Certain employees of international companies
  • M: Language and vocational students
  • N: NATOemployees
  • O: Persons with extraordinary skills that are recognized nationally or internationally
  • P: Athletes, entertainment groups
  • Q: Cultural exchange visitors
  • R: Religious workers
  • S: Criminal informants
  • T: Victims of international trafficking in persons
  • TN: Certain professionals from Canada, Mexico
  • U: Victims of crimes
  • V: Previously for family of permanent residents who are awaiting green cards, but now moot
  • VWP: Allows nationals of certain countries to visit the U.S. without obtaining a visa.


F-1 students must maintain their immigration status while remaining in the U.S. F-1 students require authorization before they are eligible to work off-campus. The procedure required to hire an international student will depend on the student's visa status and typically involves little or no extra work by the employer. Our In-House immigration attorney can assist with questions regarding hiring students on F-1 status.

Employment means the rendering of services on either a part-time or full-time basis for compensation, financial or otherwise, including self-employment. Although investing is not considered employment, working in a business in which a student is an investor is considered employment.

Here are the different types of employment authorization available to F-1 students:

On-Campus Employment: On-campus employment includes - employment located within the school and employment at an off-campus location which is educationally affiliated with the school.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT): USCIS regulations, F-1 students wishing to participate in an off-campus training program that is "an integral part of an established curriculum" must first obtain authorization for CPT. The training, which must be directly related to the student's major field of study, is defined as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school". This cooperative agreement is formalized through an Internship/Co-op/Practicum/Experiential Learning course in which the student enrolls.

Optional Practical Training (OPT): USCIS permits students in F-1 status to work in the United States so that they may reinforce what they have learned in university and college degree programs. This benefit is called Optional Practical Training (OPT).

OPT STEM Extension: Some students may be eligible for a 17-month extension if they earned a qualifying degree.

Employment Based on Economic Necessity:F-1 students who have encountered severe economic hardship may apply to USCIS for off-campus work authorization. A student seeking authorization of this type must be able to prove that the current financial situation was the result of unforeseen circumstances that were beyond his/her control. Prior to applying to USCIS, the student must have made a good faith effort to find on-campus employment.


Permanent residence is more advantageous than a temporary visa because it allows a foreign national to live in the United States indefinitely and provides work authorization. The most common ways of maintaining permanent residence is through a family member or through employment.

Permanent residence through a family member requires a relationship to a US citizen or permanent resident.

Permanent through employment is done by first obtaining a labor certification. The US Department of Labor grants a labor certification when a company can prove that there are no qualified US workers available to fill the foreign-national's position. Permanent residence through employment is also available for professors, researchers, persons who have served as an executive or manager at an international company, persons who have extraordinary skills that are recognized nationally or internationally, or persons who can demonstrate they will benefit the US's national interest.


Please contact us to speak with our In-House Immigration Attorney; they can help you to determine which temporary visa classification would best suit your goals.