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International Student Requirements
Welcome to the Jaguar Family!
To be part of the Shorter College , there are many things you need to know about attending a Shorter College, obtaining and maintaining your immigration status, seeking employment in the U.S., and more. This page contains important information that will help you transition into life as a Bulldog. If you have any additional questions, you should call or visit your college’s international student office located in the F.C. James Building.
You should always contact your International Student Advisor (Designated School Official-DSO, Responsible Officer-RO or Alternate Responsible Officer-ARO) before and upon your arrival in the U.S.
OBTAINING YOUR VISA & IMMIGRATION STATUS
This section covers the information, process and forms needed to obtain the F-1 visa, and immigration status; also, frequently referred to as F-1 status (F status).
Welcome Letter & Required forms
Once you have been accepted to Shorter College you will receive a few letters and forms. This will eventually happen after you apply to Shorter College and meet all the admissions requirements.
After you have been accepted, you will receive a Welcome Letter along with forms for you to complete and return to your college’s Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) (this person is). These forms are needed before you can enroll at the College and so that your DSO/RO can issue the Form I-20. You will need the Form I-20(Certificate of Eligibility) to obtain the F visa.
Here’s what you will need to do, upon receiving the Welcome Letter and required forms:
- Review the Welcome Letter and forms.
- Complete and return the following forms:
- A translated to English Immunization Form.
- The I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) Application Form. Review the instruction letter accompanying your I-20.
- The Affidavit of Support form.
- Declaration & Certification of Finance form.
Proof of certain immunizations is needed before you can register for courses. Therefore, you will need to submit this immunization form along with any other pertinent health records. This information is needed to determine if you have the mandatory immunizations as required by the U.S. government.
The Certificate of Eligibility (for the I-20) application form is needed to obtain information required to issue the actual I-20. The Affidavit of Support and the Declaration & Certification of Finance forms are needed to determine if you are financially able to support yourself.
When completing the finance forms, remember to convert all figures into U.S. dollars and attach all necessary documents (e.g. bank letter/statement, sponsor’s proof of income, proof of an approval loan or evidence of a scholarship) before returning them to your advisor.
**Please attach documents that are original and translated into English.
Form I-20 is a very important document. It is needed to obtain the F visa, and to maintain F immigration status in the U.S.
You will receive instructions from your International Student Advisor on how to apply for your F visa, how to obtain your F immigration status, and what you must do after you arrive. Carefully review this letter upon receipt and before you apply to the F-1 Visa.
In addition to issuing these documents, the International Student Advisor is charged with entering the information listed on them in the DHS database known as SEVIS: Student & Exchange Visitor Information System. The information is viewed by the Department of State officials at the U.S. Consulate when you go to apply for F-1 Student Visa.
After the college has determined that you have provided the required information, including sufficient funds to support your education and living expenses, the International Student Advisor will mail the Form I-20 to you, if you are a prospective F-1 student.
The Form I-20 will be reviewed and verified by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer via SEVIS, each time you enter the U.S. The SEVIS database is also updated by your International Student Advisor, when you report to school, register for classes, change your major, drop below full-time status, apply for permission to work, change your address, graduate, withdraw from school, and any other related F-1 requirements.
It is extremely important that you take care of your I-20 form, and do not lose them. Your I-20 form, passport with the valid F-1 visa stamp and, I-94 Admissions/Departure Card are documents critical to maintaining your F/J status. When you report to your Designated School Official (DSO) or Responsible Officer (RO) on campus your advisor will make copies of these documents and maintain them for mandatory record keeping purposes.
You will receive instructions from your International Student Advisor on how to apply for your F-1 visa, how to obtain your F-1 immigration status, and what you must do after you arrive. Carefully review this letter upon receipt and before you apply to the F-1/J-1 Visa.
As a new applicant, you must pay a one-time I-901 SEVIS fee: $200 for F-1; to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before you can apply for a visa. You will need the SEVIS fee payment receipt to apply for your visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country.
You must pay the SEVIS fee in U.S. dollars, either online (using a credit card) or through the mail (by U.S. check, money order, or bank draft). Once payment is received, it takes three business days to be processed. This means your payment must be received at least three days before you apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate in your country (or at least three days before your entry into the U.S. if you are a Canadian citizen).
You must have your I-20 form before you can pay the SEVIS fee. After receiving the I-20 form, you will need to know your SEVIS identification number. The SEVIS identification number is printed in the upper left of the I-20. Detailed information and instructions on paying the fee can be accessed at Student and Exchange Visitor (SEVP) I-901 SEVIS FEE WEBSITE
Consulate / Embassy Appointment
Once you have received your I-20 and your SEVIS fee payment receipt, make an appointment at the U.S. Consulate in your home country to apply for the visa.
While Consulate procedures for the F-1 visa may differ from country to country, the application process usually includes a short interview in English, several forms that you need to complete, and a processing fee.
When you go to the U.S. Consulate, you must bring the following:
- Your college acceptance letter
- Financial form with supporting documents
- SEVIS Fee Payment Receipt
- Passport, must be valid for at least six months from the date of your appointment at the consulate. Its recommended to have your passport valid for the period of time of the intended program.
If your visa application is approved, the F-1 visa will be stamped in your passport.
Upon U.S Arrival
Make sure you arrive in the US no more than 30 days prior to the first day of classes. Check in with your international advisor as soon as possible before your program begins. After receiving your F-1 visa, you will be ready to enter the U.S. and receive your corresponding F or J immigration status upon arrival in the U.S.
On your flight to the U.S., you will receive the I-94 Admissions/Departure to complete. Present this form, along with your passport, and I-20 to the U.S. Custom and Border Patrol Immigration Officer for inspection. The officer will place the F-1 and D/S (Duration of Status) stamps on your I-20/DS-2019 form, and the I-94 card.
Please note, that when you enter the U.S., you may be subject to various security checks, including, being photographed and electronically fingerprinted. This is a routine procedure for anyone entering the U.S. with a visa and is part of the safety measures taken by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
DHS Regulations require that you enter the U.S. on the Form I-20 from Shorter College or any other U.S. college that you plan to attend. If you do not do so, it is a violation of F-1 Immigration Laws and can result in loss of your student immigration status. Again, make sure you arrive in the US no more than 30 days prior to the first day of classes.
Reporting to Shorter College
Once you arrive in the U.S., you must report to your college’s international student office within 10 days. Once you enter the U.S., you must report to International Student Services Office and meet with your International Student Advisor. Your International Student Advisor will need to validate your F/J status in SEVIS. To do so, you must provide him/her with the following original documents:
- I-94 card
Your advisor will make copies of these documents and maintain them for mandatory record keeping purposes.
Failure to report to the college that issued the I-20 upon your arrival to the U.S. is a USCIS violation and can also result in loss of your student immigration status.
It is important that you participate in all new-student orientation programs offered by your college. The International Student Advisor will provide you with specific orientation information pertinent to you. Orientations are held at the start of each semester, and offer valuable information that will help you understand the requirements for maintaining your F. They also provide you with student life information that will help you adjust to your new environment and learn more about your academic requirements.
MAINTAINING YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS
One of the most important responsibilities you will have during your SUBR stay is to maintain your immigration status. This section will assist you in doing that.
Remain a Full-Time Student
You must remain a full-time student each fall and spring semester. Failure to enroll as a full-time student is a violation of your immigration status. To be a full-time undergraduate student, you need to take at least 12 class credits during both, the fall and spring semesters. This usually means being registered for at least four classes each semester.
Keep your Documents Valid
To maintain your immigration status, you must make sure that your passport, and I-20 remain valid all the time. Your visa needs to be valid each time you enter the U.S.
Your I-20 will include an anticipated completion date for your studies in the U.S. This date is listed in Section 5 of the I-20. Most students complete their programs in the period of time noted on their I-20, but occasionally students need an additional semester or more to complete their program. You must consult your International Student Advisor if you need additional time to complete your program, at least 30 days before the completion date listed on your I-20.
Once your completion date passes, your I-20 will expire and you may not be able to extend your stay in the U.S. If you are beginning a new program, you must apply for a new I-20 at least 60 days before the completion of your first program. Evidence of funding may be required.
To make sure you keep your passport valid at all times, contact your country’s consulate or embassy for renewal procedures.
Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the day you plan to re- enter the U.S. You cannot enter the U.S. on the F-1 visa, using a passport that is less than six months from expiration.
You will always need to maintain a valid F visa in order to re-enter the U.S. Check the expiration date on your visa to see when you will need to renew it. Remember, you can only renew it at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. You cannot obtain or renew the visa in the U.S. Know that if your visa expires while you are in the U.S., you do not have to renew it until you leave the U.S. for a vacation in your home country.
If you have a valid visa in an expired passport, always present both, the old and new passport to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer when you re-enter the U.S.
Obtain Travel Authorization to Re-Enter The US
Meet with your advisor before you leave the U.S. to obtain the advisor’s travel authorization to re-enter the U.S. If you plan on traveling outside the U.S. during your studies, you must have your I-20 or DS-2019 signed by your International Student Advisor before you leave. The advisor’s travel signature is only valid for a year. Make sure the signature stays current.
If you do not have a current signature on your I-20, you will have difficulty re-entering the U.S. You should visit your International Student Advisor with your passport that has a valid F-1 visa stamp and I-20, at least two-three weeks before traveling.
Keep your Advisor Informed
- Changes in Personal Information: Notify your International Student Advisor and your college’s Registrar’s Office within 10 days after obtaining your new address. You must also notify your advisor if there are any changes in your name, citizenship, degree level, major, sources of funding or anticipated graduation date. Your advisor will make the necessary updates to your records in SEVIS. Failure to report changes in your personal information within 10 days of receiving it can place you in danger of losing your student immigration status.
- Departure from College: Contact your advisor if you plan to leave your college temporarily or permanently. Whether you plan to study abroad, take a leave of absence, withdraw, graduate early, or transfer to another school, you must notify your advisor before leaving.
- Missing Documents: Contact your advisor immediately if any of your documents are stolen, lost, or misplaced. Your Advisor will instruct you on how to obtain replacement documents. Note: You must always report your lost passport to the police and obtain a police report.
Do Not Work Without Authorization
International students are only permitted to work outside the university with permission from either their International Student Advisor or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Working without authorization is a deportable offense. Do not accept any employment unless you have written work authorization.