Can My Foreign Relative Attend Public School in the U.S.?

There are limitations and requirements under U.S. law related to foreign students in F-1 status attending public secondary or high schools (grades nine through twelve):

  • Secondary school attendance is limited to 12 months.

  • F-1 secondary students must pay the school the full cost of education by repaying the school system for the full, unsubsidized, per capita, cost of education; this reimbursement requirement is mandatory and school systems cannot waive the reimbursement requirement, though an organization or an individual may pay the full tuition costs on behalf of the student, provided that the payment does not come from public funds.


  • The foreign student must prove that he or she has sufficient funds to cover education and living expenses while studying in the United States.


  • F-1 students cannot attend public elementary schools or publicly funded adult education programs.


  • Student F-1 visas cannot be issued to foreign students seeking to enter the U.S. in order to attend a public primary/elementary school or a publicly funded adult education program.


  • Dependents on a nonimmigrant visa holder of any type (including F-1) are not prohibited from attending either a public primary school, an adult education program, or another public education institution.


  • Foreign students may live with U.S. citizen relatives while attending public school; student’s status as a resident of the school district and payment of local property or school taxes does not fulfill any portion of the cost reimbursement requirement.


  • The restrictions above are for F-1 students in public schools or programs only and do not apply to foreign students who are students in another visa status (such as J, L, M, or G visas) or students in F-1 status who attend private schools or private training or language programs.

Looking for an Immigration Attorney? 

With over 17+ years of experience, we are more than happy to talk to you about your immigration situation.

Learn How the Liu Law Firm May Help You

Get In Touch With Us

Submission of this form confirms your acknowledgment and understanding that no attorney-client relationship with our firm has been created.