I am already living in the United States? Do I need an F-1 visa?

There are many types of visas which allow you to live in the United States, but not all are appropriate for full-time students. It is important for you to have a visa which reflects your primary purpose for remaining in the U.S. The F-1 visa is for people who come to the U.S. for the purpose of full-time study. If you have a different type of visa, you should consider changing to an F-1 visa. Note: If you have received U.S. permanent resident status, you do not need a visa to live and study in the U.S.

There are several factors to consider:

  1. Visa restrictions of full-time study. Some visa types are prohibited from full-time study, such as B-2 tourists. If you have an A-1 dependent visa, G dependent visa or R-2 visa, it is permitted for you to study full time. If you are unsure about your eligibility to study with your current visa type, please contact studyusa@dickinson.edu.
  2. Your right to remain in the U.S. until your graduation.  If your visa is dependent upon another person’s status or employment, you should discuss your long-term plans with the primary visa holder. If the primary visa holder changes jobs or loses the right to remain in the U.S., your right to remain in the U.S. is also compromised. For example, if your parent is a foreign diplomat whose appointment in the U.S. will end next year, your dependent visa will expire as soon as the appointment has ended.
  3. Visa restrictions of employment. With an F-1 visa, you will have the right to work on campus and can apply to work off campus for 12 months after your graduation. Your current visa may prohibit you from working.

In most cases, it is beneficial for students to change to the F-1 visa. The easiest way to change visas is to leave the United States and apply for the F-1 visa using the procedures explained on the Applying for Visa page. If you do not plan to leave the U.S. before your first semester at Dickinson, you may be eligible to request a change of status from within the U.S. This is a lengthy and sometimes risky process, and not all visa types are eligible.

Please contact studyusa@dickinson.edu