F-1 Student Visa
International students studying full-time (more than 18 hours/week) in the U.S. (even if you only study for a short time) are required to obtain a student visa. Below you will find information that will help you understand the visa process and how to apply for a visa.
What is an I-20 form? When Intercultural Communications College admits a student, we send the student a form called the I-20. This form indicates your course of study and the length of your course. The form I-20 allows a student to apply for a F-1 student visa.
How do I apply for a student visa? After you receive your I-20, you have to schedule a visa interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Please note that the I-20 does not guarantee receipt of an F-1 visa. The local Consular official makes the final decision on whether or not to issue you a student visa.
- Receive I-20 form from Intercultural Communications College.
- Schedule your visa appointment with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country (this may be done on-line in many countries). Check application waiting times on the U.S. Department of State website.
- Submit the SEVIS Fee Payment in time to allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to process the payment; at least 3 days prior to visa interview. You can make the $200 payment at www.fmjfee.com or ICC can process this payment for you an additional $250 (The SEVIS Fee has increased from $100 to $200 on October 27th, 2008. More information about the fee, also called the I-901 fee, can be found at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm).
- Print out the SEVIS fee payment receipt and bring it to your visa interview.
- Go to your visa interview to request an F-1 visa (the visa may not be issued right away; many embassies mail the visa to the student a few days after the interview or you may need to return and pick it up).
Canadian students entering the US from Canada are not required to apply at a US embassy for a student visa, but they must pay the SEVIS fee and have an I-20. They must present their I-20 and passport to an US immigration officer at the point of entry for the F-1 student visa stamp. For the most current information about visa regulations, visit the Web site of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Visa Services. If you wish to study with us and need any help or advice about U.S. visa application procedures, please contact us.
When can I enter the U.S.A.? Visa regulations allow you to enter the USA up to 30 days before the first day of classes (the start date shown on your I-20). You will not be able to enter the USA more than 30 days before the start of your study. Please plan your flight carefully.
What happens if I cannot arrive by the first day of classes? Please contact us as soon as possible. We can revise your study start and end dates and issue you a new I-20 for the new study dates.
What are my obligations as a student on an F-1 visa? Students on an F-1 visa must follow the regulations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to these regulations, you must:
- Register for classes at the university that issued the I-20
- Be enrolled as a full-time student while you are in the U.S.A.
- Keep your passport current
- Request assistance from your foreign student advisor if you wish to transfer from one university to another.
How long can I stay in the U.S.A.? The I-20 indicates the length of time you can stay to finish your course of studies. Once you have finished your studies, generally, you may stay in the U.S.A for no more than 60 days from your last day of study. You can extend your study and your I-20 after you arrive at ICC.
Can I bring my dependents with me while I am studying? Yes. Dependents may come to the U.S.A with a student, each dependent will be issued their own I-20 in order to apply for the F-2 dependent visa.
If I want to extend my studies after the study end date, may I stay longer? If you want to continue your English studies past your original study end date, the staff at ICC will help you apply for an extension.
Can I shorten my studies after arriving? Yes, you can shorten your studies after arriving but your will not be entitled to the 60 day stay past your study end date. You will only be allowed 15 days to remain in the U.S.A. after shortening your studies or you will be in violation of your visa status.
If I need to return home for a temporary visit, what do I need to do? You may leave the country for a temporary absence of no more than 5 months (150 days). Before you leave the country come see us to discuss the situation. Your I-20 may need to be extended and the third page of your I-20 must be signed before you leave.
If my visa expires, how do I renew it? The F-1 visa is for entering the United States only. The visa needs to be valid only at the time you enter the U.S.A. It does not need to be renewed as long as you stayed enrolled in school full-time, have a new I-20 issued covering the new or extended dates of study, provide proof of financial ability to pay additional tuition, fees and rent, and have a current passport. However, if you wish to or need to depart the U.S.A during your study period and you visa has expired, ask us for information about how to renew your visa. You may apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country or another country you are visiting. The F-1 visa cannot be renewed in the U.S.A.
Tourist Visas (Part-time Study)
Visitors to the U.S.A. who wish to do sightseeing and study part-time (less than 18 hours/week) may do so on a tourist visa, a B1/B2 visa or a 90 day tourist stay (part of the visa waiver program). Part-time students do NOT need an I-20 form. Upon entering the U.S.A. it is important to state that the main purpose of the visit is touring and sightseeing. English language classes should not be the main reason for the visit.
Visa Waiver Program (90 days or less)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a U.S. visa. The word “waiver” means “free of,” therefore people with a visa waiver are “free of the visa” – or have NO visa. This is not a student visa, but students may study part-time (less than 18 hours/week) for a maximum of 90 days. VWP Countries: There are 35 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program including: Andorra, Iceland, Norway, Australia, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Italy, San Marino, Belgium, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Denmark, Lithuania, South Korea, Estonia, Luxembourg, Spain, Finland, Malta, Sweden, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Hungary, New Zealand. Upon entering the U.S.A. it is important to state that the main purpose of the visit is touring and sight seeing. English language classes should not be the main reason for the visit. There are no extensions or changes to a Visa Waiver, and the student must leave no more than 90 days after their arrival date.To enter the U.S. on a visa waiver, you must:
- Have a valid machine readable passport
- Stay only 90 days or less
- Have a round-trip ticket
- Have an arrival/departure form (I-94W); issued on the airplane en route to the U.S.A.
B2 Tourist Visa
B-2 Visa students may study ONLY part-time (less than 18 hours/week) while in the U.S.A. The length of a B2 Visa varies depending upon the student’s reason for entering the U.S.A. As with the Visa Waiver, the visitor should state at the Embassy and upon entering the U.S.A., that the main purpose of the visit is tourism not study. Under some circumstances it may be possible to extend a B2 visa or change to an F-1 visa in the U.S.A. for a fee but the process can take several months.