It is important that as an international student you are familiar with basic rules that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires for F-1 visa holders. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are "in status" at all times. Maintaining status includes being a full-time student and having all documents updated in a timely manner. It is to your benefit that you familiarize yourself with the following terms:
Form I-20: an I-20 is the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status needed to apply for ta Visa. Transylvania University issues I-20s for F-1 visa status upon submission of enrollment deposit, Certification of Finances and supporting documentation.
Designated School Official (DSO): The DSO is a specific individual(s) at your institution who is authorized to issue and verify relevant immigration documents.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS): This department houses the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP). These organizations have all authority over non-U.S. citizens.
Entry visa: This is a multicolored stamp or label affixed to your passport that you obtained from the American Embassy or Consulate in your home country. The only purpose of an entry visa is to apply for admission to the United States at the port of entry.
Duration of Status (D/S): A "D/S" visa admission stamp means you may remain in the U.S. so long as you maintain your nonimmigrant student status.
I-94: Upon entering the U.S., the immigration officer will issue you an electronic I-94. The I-94 has your date of entry, port of entry, identification as an F-1 student, a unique 11-digit admission number, and the period of admission.
Current address: You are required by law to report your address in your home country and in the U.S. to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to SEVIS through your DSO. Your permanent address is the address in your home country. Your Local/Physical address is your address in the U.S. Any change in your address should be reported to a DSO immediately.
Program Information: Your chosen major(s) and minor(s) are reflected on your I-20, as well as information about when your university studies begin and are anticipated to end. Any changes to this information should be reported to a DSO immediately.
Emergency contact: This is the person that the university will contact if you are seriously ill or injured.
Step 1: Go to your country's US Embassy website and read the instructions for applying for a student visa (F-1).
Step 2: Pay your visa application fee
Step 3: Gather all documents needed, and then schedule an interview appointment. You may be asked for the receipt number for the payment of the application fee so have this number ready.
Step 4: Please study the U.S. Embassy website information carefully and follow all instructions.
Step 5: Make copies of all of your documents in case the embassy officer wants to keep a document
Step 6: Check twice to be sure you have all the required documents. Put them in order so you can present them quickly and easily when the consular officer asks for them. Include your financial documentation and your letter of acceptance to Transylvania.
Step 7: Plan to arrive early for your appointment
Step 8: Bring ONLY the documents you need for your visa application. Leave cell phones, laptop computers, and backpacks at home or outside with a friend or parent. These items are often banned from the embassy.
The most common reasons that visa applications are denied are:
- Failure to convince the officer that you intend to return home after you finish your degree
- Failure to provide evidence of financial support
You need to be prepared to answer the following when you go to the embassy for your visa interview:
Why are you interested in attending a university in the US? How have you prepared to achieve this goal?
Why do you want to attend Transylvania University? How did you learn about Transylvania?
It may also be helpful to familiarize yourself with Transylvania through our website: www.transy.edu
What are you planning to study and why?
Please be sure that your response to the question about what you will study matches the "majoring in" answer given on your I-20.
When you have graduated from Transylvania, what do you plan to do when you return to your home country?
An F-1 visa requires that you fully intend to return to your country after you finish your studies. Be ready to explain the reasons you will return (family obligation, career plans, etc). NEVER say that you might want to stay in the U.S. after you finish.