This page references visa categories that our relevant to our current and admitted students. Some of the information here is specific to MIT policy and therefore may not apply to students attending other schools. For a complete list of non-immigrant visa types, please refer to the USCIS website:
Academic Student. You may be (but are not required to be) funded entirely on personal/family funds. After entering on this and being in F-1 status for 9 months or an academic year, students are eligible to apply for off-campus work permission. If your academic program is at least 12 months long, you are generally eligible for at least 12 months total of Optional Practical Training throughout the duration of your program (most students prefer to save this time to use for working in the US after receiving their degree). If you use any of this time before graduation, then it is deducted from the 12 month total. You may be able to get another type of work permission that will not deduct from this time, but that generally depends on your individual situation. Full-time study is required during the academic year.
If you have completed the course of studies as described on the I-20 and any authorized practical training, you are allowed an additional 60 days in the US to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.
Spouse and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the primary student (F) visa holder in the U.S. for the duration of his/her stay require student dependent visas. F-2 dependents are NOT eligible to study full-time or work under any circumstances.
Exchange Visitor. The majority of your funding MUST come from non-personal, non-family funds. Depending on your country of legal permanent residence, whether you receive government funding, and whether your field of study is on a "skills list", you may be subject to a 2-year physical home presence or home residency requirement, which generally means you are required to return home for 2 years after completing your studies and work on the student visa. If your program is 18 months or longer, you are generally eligible to work for that amount of time. Full-time study is required during the academic year.
After the period of time specified on your Form DS-2019 has complete, you also have a period of 30 days for domestic travel and/or to prepare for and depart from the U.S.
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal (or primary) exchange visitor (J) visa holder in the U.S. for the duration of his/her stay require exchange visitor visas.
Work - The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor in the U.S. may not work in J-2 status, unless they have filed Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved permission to work.
Study- The spouse and/or children of an exchange visitor visa holder who are in the U.S. on an exchange visitor visa may study in the U.S..