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Visa For F1

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					                         Applying for an F-1 Visa
What is an F-1 (student) Visa?

The F-1 visa is the most often used visa by international students to study at an accredited U.S.
college, university, or English language institute. Students on F-1 visas come to the United States for
a full degree program. (http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html another helpful site
is http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#need )

Note that Canadian students entering the US from Canada are not required to apply at a U.S.
embassy for a student visa (however, they are required to pay the SEVIS fee). They must present
their I-20 and passport to an U.S. immigration officer at the point of entry for the F-1 student visa
stamp. (http://www.consular.canada.usembassy.gov/student_exchange_visa_usa.asp )

What Exactly Is a Visa?

A visa is a document that is placed into your passport and allows you to request permission from an
Immigration officer at a port-of-entry (usually at an airport) to enter the United States. The visa itself
does not guarantee admission into the U.S. – all other documents must be in order as well. The
procedure to enter the U.S. is covered in more detail further down this page.


Visa Application Steps

    1.   Admission to Mount St. Mary's College

             o   Admissions Information
    2.   Receive I-20 from Mount St. Mary's College

             o   As a prospective International student, you will receive an I-20
    3.   Pay the $200 SEVIS I901 fee (may be subject to change)

             o   SEVIS i901 Fee: http://www.fmjfee.com or http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/index.htm
             o   Keep receipt or print-out of payment for proof that you paid it for your visa interview.

             o   Instructions on how to fill out I-901: http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/I-901.pdf
    4.   Schedule a visa appointment/interview

             o   http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/pdfs/gettingavisa.02.03.pdf (form included in packet)

             o   U.S. Embassies and Consulates: (http://www.usembassy.gov/ )

             o   It is the sole responsibility of the prospective student to obtain information and to meet

                 requirements of their designated Embassy or Consulate.

             o   Visa Appointment wait times (http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/tempvisitors_wait.php )

             o   Also note that you may not receive a U.S. visa more than 120 days before the reporting date

                 on your I-20.


Checklist for Visa Appointment

             o   Form I-20
              o    A completed visa application form (available at the Embassy’s website)

              o    A passport valid for at least 6 months or more

              o    Financial support documentation (no older than 2 months)

              o    Proof that you paid the SEVIS fee & visa application fees

              o    Your admission letter from Mount St. Mary's College (recommended, not required)

              o    Proof of home country ties, including but not limited to: proof of property ownership, bank

                   accounts, significant family in your home country, a job offer in your home country upon

                   completion of your U.S. studies (you may or may not be asked about this – but it is always

                   good to be prepared)


Steps after Receiving the Visa

If all goes according to plan, you will receive an F-1 visa stamp in your passport. Congratulations! Some U.S.

Embassies actually put your I-20 in a sealed envelope and staple it to your passport. It is recommended that

you do not open this envelope. The Immigration officer at the U.S. port-of-entry will open it and check your

documents when you arrive. Check your visa for errors before you leave the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


You may not enter the U.S. on your F-1 visa more than 30 days prior to the report date on your I-20.


If you received a late visa appointment and will not be able to enter the U.S. by the report date on your I-20,

please contact Mount St. Mary's College Registrar’s Office registrar@msmc.la.edu as soon as you know this
information so that we may defer this date on your I-20 and you are not turned away at the port-of-entry into the

U.S.


Arrival to the United States

On your flight to the U.S., a flight attendant will hand you a Form I-94 to fill out. This is a very important
Immigration form, so please be sure to fill it out neatly and correctly. You should write your name on the I-94

card just as it is displayed in your passport. At the port-of-entry, an Immigration officer will look over your

Immigration documents and ask you several questions about your stay in the U.S. S/he will staple a portion of

the I-94 card into your passport. This card shows when and where you entered the U.S., in what status, and for

how long your stay is valid. Do not lose this card! It costs $160 to replace it! (Fee is subject to change.)

For current information go to:
http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/i-94_instructions/filling_out_i94.xml
http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/travel/id_visa/i-94_instructions/sample_cbp_decla.ctt/sample_cbp_decla.pdf
http://www.ice.gov/sevis/factsheet/100104ent_stdnt_fs.htm
                   Interview tips taken from NAFSA webpage
http://www.nafsa.org/knowledge_community_network.sec/international_student_3/international_student_4/practice_resources_18/10_points_to_remember

10 Points to Remember When Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa

1. Ties to Your Home Country

Under U.S. law, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas, such as student visas, are viewed as intending immigrants until they
can convince the consular officer that they are not. You must therefore be able to show that you have reasons for returning to
your home country that are stronger than those for remaining in the United States. "Ties" to your home country are the things
that bind you to your home town, homeland, or current place of residence: job, family, financial prospects that you own or will
inherit, investments, etc. If you are a prospective undergraduate, the interviewing officer may ask about your specific
intentions or promise of future employment, family or other relationships, educational objectives, grades, long-range plans
and career prospects in your home country.

Each person's situation is different, of course, and there is no magic explanation or single document, certificate, or letter
which can guarantee visa issuance. If you have applied for the U.S. Green Card Lottery, you may be asked if you are
intending to immigrate. A simple answer would be that you applied for the lottery since it was available but not with a specific
intent to immigrate. If you overstayed your authorized stay in the United States previously, be prepared to explain what
happened clearly and concisely, with documentation, if available.



2. English

Anticipate that the interview will be conducted in English and not in your native language. One suggestion is to practice
English conversation with a native speaker before the interview, but do NOT prepare speeches! If you are coming to the
United States solely to study intensive English, be prepared to explain how English will be useful for you in your home
country.



3. Speak for Yourself

Do not bring parents or family members with you to the interview. The consular officer wants to interview you, not your family.
A negative impression is created if you are not prepared to speak on your own behalf. If you are a minor applying for a high
school program and need your parents there is case there are questions, for example about funding, they should wait in the
waiting room.



4. Know the Program and How It Fits Your Career Plans

If you are not able to articulate the reasons you will study in a particular program in the United States, you may not succeed in
convincing the consular officer that you are indeed planning to study, rather than to immigrate. You should also be able to
explain how studying in the United States relates to your future professional career when you return home.



5. Be Brief

Because of the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick
and efficient interview. They must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions they form during the first minute of
the interview. Consequently, what you say first and the initial impression you create are critical to your success. Keep your
answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.



6. Additional Documentation

It should be immediately clear to the consular officer what written documents you are presenting and what they signify.
Lengthy written explanations cannot be quickly read or evaluated. Remember that you will have 2-3 minutes of interview time,
if you are lucky.
7. Not All Countries are Equal

Applicants from countries suffering economic problems or from countries where many students have remained in the United
States as immigrants will have more difficulty getting visas. Statistically, applicants from those countries are more likely to be
intending immigrants. They are also more likely to be asked about job opportunities at home after their study in the United
States.



8. Employment

Your main purpose in coming to the United States should be to study, not for the chance to work before or after
graduation. While many students do work off-campus during their studies, such employment is incidental to their main
purpose of completing their U.S. education. You must be able to clearly articulate your plan to return home at the end of your
program. If your spouse is also applying for an accompanying F-2 visa, be aware that F-2 dependents cannot, under any
circumstances, be employed in the United States. If asked, be prepared to address what your spouse intends to do with his or
her time while in the United States. Volunteer work and attending school part-time are permitted activities.



9. Dependents Remaining at Home

If your spouse and children are remaining behind in your country, be prepared to address how they will support themselves in
your absence. This can be an especially tricky area if you are the primary source of income for your family. If the consular
officer gains the impression that your family will need you to remit money from the United States in order to support
themselves, your student visa application will almost certainly be denied. If your family does decide to join you at a later time,
it is helpful to have them apply at the same post where you applied for your visa.



10. Maintain a Positive Attitude

Do not engage the consular officer in an argument. If you are denied a student visa, ask the officer for a list of documents he
or she would suggest you bring in order to overcome the refusal, and try to get the reason you were denied in writing.


NAFSA would like to credit Gerald A. Wunsch, Esq., 1997, then a member of the Consular Issues Working Group, and
a former U.S. Consular Officer in Mexico, Suriname, and the Netherlands; and Martha Wailes of Indiana University
for their contributions to this document. NAFSA also appreciates the input of the U.S. Department of State.
                              Planning your arrival
                    Information taken from http://www.ice.gov/sevis/factsheet/100104ent_stdnt_fs.htm




                                               FACT SHEET

           ARRIVING AT A U.S. PORT OF ENTRY … WHAT A STUDENT CAN EXPECT

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is committed
to facilitating your stay in the United States while you take advantage of our nation’s academic, educational, and
cultural offerings. To enhance security without slowing legitimate travel, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures. Careful planning and preparation by
international students can ensure that any delay based on these procedures is minimal.




                                           PLAN YOUR ARRIVAL

You may be refused entry into the United States if you attempt to arrive more than 30 days before the program
start date listed on your SEVIS I-20 form.




                              ALWAYS HAND-CARRY YOUR DOCUMENTS

Do not check the following documents in your baggage. If your baggage is lost or delayed, you will be
unable to present the documents at your port of entry. As a result, you may not be able to enter the United
States

    1.   Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay;
    2.   SEVIS Form I-20.

In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:

    1.   Evidence of financial resources;
    2.   Evidence of student status, such as recent tuition receipts and transcripts;
    3.   Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797, and
    4.   Name and contact information for your “Designated School Official”.

    For comprehensive information on procedures for traveling and arriving in the United States, visit:
    http://educationusa.state.gov/predeparture/travel/customs.htm




                                   COMPLETE YOUR ENTRY PAPERWORK

If Arriving By Air: Flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival Departure
Record Forms (I-94). These must be completed prior to landing.

If Arriving By Land or Sea: The CBP Officer at the port of entry will provide the necessary Customs
Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival-Departure Record Forms (I-94) to be filled out upon your arrival.
                                 AS YOU ARRIVE AT THE PORT OF ENTRY

Proceed to the terminal area for arriving passengers. Have the following documents available for presentation:
your passport; SEVIS Form (I-20); Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94); and Customs Declaration Form (CF-
6059). The Form I-94 should reflect the address where you will reside, not the address of the school or
program.

All visitors entering the United States must state their reason for wishing to enter the country. You will also be
asked to provide information about your final destination. It is important that you tell the CBP Officer that
you will be a student. Be prepared to include the name and address of the school program where you will
enroll/participate.

Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer will:

    •    Stamp your SEVIS Form for duration of status (“D/S”) for F visa holders
    •    Stamp the Arrival-Departure Record Form (I-94) and staple it in the passport

                          FOLLOWING ADMISSION INTO THE UNITED STATES

Students should report to their school within 30 days of the date that appears on the SEVIS I-20 form to register
for courses or to validate their intended participation. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences.

                                          ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

SECONDARY INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS

If the CBP officer at the port of entry cannot initially verify your information or you do not have all of the required
documentation, you may be directed to an interview area known as “secondary inspection.” Secondary
inspection allows inspectors to conduct additional research in order to verify information without causing delays
for other arriving passengers.

The inspector will first attempt to verify your status by using the Student and Exchange and Visitor Information
System (SEVIS). In the event that the CBP Officer needs to verify information with your school or program, we
strongly recommend that you have the name and telephone number of the foreign student advisor at
your school. In the event you arrive during non-business hours (evening, weekends, holidays), you should also
have an emergency or non-business hour phone number available for this official.

Failure to comply with U.S. government entry-exit procedures may result in your being denied entry to the
United States. Under certain circumstances, the CBP officer may issue a “Notice to Student or Exchange
Visitor” Form (I-515A), which authorizes temporary admission into the United States. Work with your school to
submit the proper documentation without delay.

US-VISIT

All nonimmigrant visitors holding visas -- regardless of race, national origin, or religion -- participate in the US-
VISIT program, a comprehensive registration system tracking entries to and exits from the United States. For
more information: www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0305.shtm

NATIONAL SECURITY ENTRY-EXIT REGISTRATION SYSTEM (NSEERS)

Some individuals may be asked to provide additional information under the National Security Entry-Exit
Registration System (NSEERS). A packet of information will be available at the port of entry explaining the
registration procedure. For more information: www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0305.shtm

                                                        # ICE #

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.
Updated 7/30/09 SGM

				
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