There have been many changes in U.S. immigration policies and practices over the past few years. Please read the information below carefully.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has been replaced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS). In addition to the name change, the U.S. government has introduced the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an online database that connects immigration officials and U.S. colleges and universities by providing information on international students and scholars. On Sept. 1, 2004, a new United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule went into effect. This rule requires F-1 and J-1 visa applicants to pay a one-time fee of $200 to supplement the administration and maintenance costs of SEVIS. This fee is often referred as the SEVIS fee.
Having a U.S. visa is like having a key to enter the country. The expiration date on your visa is the last day you may enter the United States from abroad. You need a valid visa every time you enter the country. Depending upon the type of visa you use to enter the U.S., you are subject to different guidelines in order to "maintain status" or remain in this country legally. The Graduate and International Programs office can help guide students through the application for F-1 student visas.
Requirements — To apply for an F-1 visa, you will need a SEVIS-issued Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (I-20) Students from the school. The Graduate and International Program office will issue the I-20 form under the following conditions:
Step 1: Certification of Finances — This form is used to show proof of support for your first year of study. You must demonstrate sufficient funding to cover all expenses including tuition, fees, books and living expenses. Funding may come from your own personal account, a private sponsor's account and/or scholarships/loans that have been approved. In addition to filling out the form, you will need to provide adequate verification of the funds. Verification documents include:
You should obtain two original copies of the financial verification documents.
Note: The visa application process and required documents may differ depending upon the requirements of the specific consular office in your home country. Please check your local consular office requirements.
Step 2: SEVIS Fee — Once you have obtained the Form I-20 from the law school, you will need to pay the required $200 SEVIS fee, get the fee receipt and make an appointment at the embassy/consulate. To pay your SEVIS fee, please go to www.fmjfee.com.
Step 3: Obtain F-1 Visa — You will need to bring the following documents:
Note: The visa application process and required documents may differ depending upon the requirements of the specific consular office in your home. Please check your local consular office requirements.
Note: Students who are citizens of Canada may obtain their F-1 visas at the port of entry. Canadian students will be required to present their Form I-20, passport and additional supporting financial documents to the U.S. Immigration Inspector at the U.S. port of entry.
Step 4: Entering the U.S. — You need to present the following documents to an immigration inspector at the U.S. port of entry.
The immigration inspector decides whether or not to admit you into the U.S. with an F-1 nonimmigrant status.
Step 5: Check-in with the Graduate and International Programs Office — Once you have arrived, please stop by the Graduate and International Programs office with your I-20 form and passport. We need copies for our records.
Contact Clémence Kucera, Director, Graduate & International Programs and Centers of
Email | 916.739.7353 or 916.739.7019