F-1 and F-2

Full-time students are on F-1 visa. Their dependents are on F-2 visa.

F-1 visa holders can work on campus for up to 20 hours per week during school sessions. They can work more than that on campus during school breaks. Working outside the campus will require special permission such as a practical training. Students who need to work beyond what are mentioned so far in order to fund their study in the US (if they are already in the US and enrolled in a degree program) can apply for a working permit from INS.

F-2 visa holders cannot work. But they can study full-time or part-time.

J-1 and J-2

Scholars or students who are on exchange programs are on J-1 visa. Their dependents are on J-2 visa.

J-1 scholars are restricted to work within their exchange program. J-1 students can work under the same rules for F-1 students.

J-2 holders are allowed to work (but need to get a permit from INS). They can also study full-time or part-time.

The biggest restriction on J-1 holders is that they need to leave the US for at least 2 years after the exchange program. There is a process for J-1 holders to waive this requirement, provided that both the US and Chinese governments allow the waiver.

H-1 and H-4

Foreign workers that are employed by US companies are on H-1 visa. Their dependents are on H-4 visa.

H-1 visa holders without a working permit can only work for the employer who sponsored the visa. H-1 visa holders who have filed I-485 for green card and received a working permit can work part-time for other employers, or be self-employed.

H-4 visa holders cannot work, unless they have been granted a working permit after filing I-485 with their principal H-1 holder. They can study full-time or part-time.


Visitor for the purpose of tourism are on B2 visa. They cannot work in the US. They have a limited amount of time to stay in the US, as indicated on their I-94 card. They can take short-term "incidental" classes, such as English classes, for no more than 18 hours per week.

G1, G2, G3, G4, and G5

These visas are for employees at international organizations, and their dependents. G visa holders can also sponsor personal employees of their own, who will be on G-4 visa.

G visa holders who are the dependent of a principal G visa holder can study full-time or part-time.

G visa holders don't pay income taxes, as they work for international organizations such as the World Bank.

When a G visa holder wants to transfer out of a G visa or change to immigrant status, there is a form I-566 that has to be approved by the US State Department.

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