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Can H1B Visa holder study in the United States?

The short answer is YES.

Full-time studies vs. Part-time studies

Full-time and Part-time definitions vary by University, and also if you are pursuing in-class or online education. Generally accepted definition is as follows:

  • Part-time student attends a University for 6 credit hours (2 courses) or less.
  • Full-time student attends a University for 9 credit hours (3 courses) or more.

Will my H-1B status affected if I pursue a Masters Degree in the United States?

  • Nothing in the H-1B regulations prohibits an H-1B worker from attending classes as long as the studies are incidental to H-1B status.
  • The H-1B regulations does not prohibit part-time or full-time studies in the United States. However, the H-1B worker should be maintaining H-1B status and complying with all the regulations.
  • If an H-1B worker’s visa has been filed on a part-time basis, he could be working only 20 hours. If it is on a full-time basis, he would have to work atleast 40 hours in accordance with the Labor Condition Application (“LCA”), and the terms and conditions of the Employment Agreement.
  • If the 40 hour work week requirement is complied with, a full-time H-1B worker can pursue a college education in the remaining time available to him during the week. Most Universities offer evening and/or weekend classes for students who are employed full-time.
  • A good option would be to pursue a Masters (“MS”) or an Masters in Business Administration (“MBA”). This degree can also be beneficial in the greencard filing process, and make a huge difference in the time required to obtain a greencard.

Will I qualify of In-State Tuition on H-1B Visa?

  • For any student who applies to a State funded University, the tuition can be either Out of State tuition or In-State tuition.
  • In-State and Out-of-State tuition is only limited to State Universities, and not Private Universities.

Out of State Tuition

If you are not considered a resident of the state, you will end up paying Out-of-State tuition. This is much more than what you would pay being a resident of the state. Every state has different requirements.

In-State Tuition

  • Most states would consider you a resident and hence qualify you for In-State tuition if you have lived in that state for 1 year.
  • In-state tuition is subsidized by the state governments, and is as low as half of Out-of-State tuition.
  • H-1B and H-4 visa holders usually qualify for In-State tuition in most states, although every state interprets this very differently.

Documents required to prove In-State Tuition eligibility

In order to prove In-State tuition eligibility in a state funded college, you will have to show residency of that state by collecting the following documents:

  • If you are moving in a state, always get a new Driver’s License with your new address in that state. This is one of the best residency proofs.
  • Car Registration and Car Insurance Certificate should be changed to the state you have moved in.
  • Apartment Lease or Mortgage documents in your name.
  • Your paystubs should indicate the address that you currently live in. If you move, inform your employer immediately so the payroll records can be updated.
  • Your employer should also provide you with a W-2 at the end-of-the year which would show the state that you live in.
  • When you file for State Income Tax Returns, most states will document your stay in that state. You will have to attach your State W-2 along with the filed returns.
  • Open a new bank account in that state and/or update the address on your bank account.
  • Keep utility bills–such as electricity, cable, phone–for upto 1 year as address proof.