Entering United States The Admissions Office will send you an I-20 Form when you are admitted and have submitted proof of your ability to finance your education. You must take the I-20 form, your acceptance letter, passport and copies of sponsorship letters and bank statements to prove financial support to the United States Embassy or Consulate nearest your home. A visa issuance officer will ask you to fill out a preliminary application for the visa. Once you have acquired the visa stamp in your passport, you are ready to enter the U.S. When you arrive in the U.S., your documents will be examined and processed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the port of entry. Your passport and I-20 will be returned to you. View Student Visa Process Generally, you will no longer receive a paper copy of your I-94 card (Arrival/Departure Record) designated “D/S” which means “duration of status” and refers to the time you are engaged in a full-time course of study as indicated on your visa document. You will be able to access an electronic copy of your I-94 card from the US Customs and Border Protection website – https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. All of these documents are extremely important since they legitimize your presence in the United States. Keep them in a safe and secure place. NOTE: If you will not be entering the U.S. on an F-1 visa, do not use an I-20 form to obtain a visa. If you receive one, please return it to the Admissions Office with an explanation of the type of visa you hold. If your visa document (I-20) does not arrive in time for you to secure the proper visa, do not enter the United States on a B1/B2 Visitor Visa. Obtain a B-2 “prospective student” visa from a U.S. Embassy or consulate post in your country. Be certain the consul writes “Prospective Student” in your passport on the visa page. You will need to present your letter of acceptance and evidence of financial support to request this visa. In general, it is best to avoid using the B-2 visa since you will have to pay a fee and do a time-consuming change of status through INS after you arrive. Students who have obtained the proper I-20 form must attend the school named on the certificate of eligibility presented at the port of entry in order to maintain their status. Your must ensure that your I-20 is endorsed (signed) for re-entry into the United States. Your I-20 must be endorsed by a DSO (Designated School Official) or PDSO (Primary School Official) prior to your departure from the United States. Once the I-20 is properly endorsed, and you have a valid passport and student visa, and you are in status, you must use these documents to reenter the United States to attend the same school after a temporary absence from the United States. Each certification signature is valid for one year. NOTE: Do not enter the U.S. on a “W-T” or “W-B” (waiver) as this classification cannot be extended or changed and you will lose your legal immigration status as a student. Change in academic status If you are currently a student at Webber and will be continuing your studies in an additional program of study (such as a Master’s degree), you should follow the transfer procedure. A new I-20 will be issued for the new program, and you will use the new I-20 to enter the country. If you do not leave, bring it to the Student Life Office as described in the transfer process. Failure to complete this “internal transfer” will cause you to be out of status with INS, which can adversely affect work authorizations or other student privileges. View Transferring F-1 international students can only count one online class toward their minimum number of credits as their full-time enrollment. Visas and Passports The expiration date of your passport should be valid six months into the future while you are a student in the U.S. If the expiration date is close to the date you will begin classes, obtain a new passport before you leave home. There are two types of visas most commonly used by persons engaging in international education, the F-1 and J-1. The F-1 is the student visa, while the J-1 is an “exchange visitor” visa managed under the auspices of the United States Information Agency. Both visas have conditions, such as maintaining a full course of study and strict limitations on employment. Working on campus is usually the only employment option available to international students. Since jobs are limited on campus, do not plan on employment as a source of income during your stay in the United States, especially during your first year. INS Like all countries in the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing foreigners who are temporarily within its borders. The Immigration regulations are administered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). These regulations can change frequently and are difficult to interpret. It is important for you to understand the immigration rules as they apply to your student status. The INS does not consider ignorance of the law a legitimate reason for failing to obey it. Questions should be directed to the Student Life Office. There are Designated School Officials (DSO’s) available there who know the laws and can sign your documents. INS requires that a copy of your passport, I-94 and other immigration documents be kept on file in the SDO, as well as your local address and telephone number. The local INS office address is as follows: United States Immigration and Naturalization Service 5524 West Cypress Street, Tampa Florida 33609 OR 9403 Trade port Drive, Orlando FL 32827 An F-1 student is considered in status for the entire length of time during which he/she is enrolled as a full-time student in an educational program if adhering to the conditions of the visa designated on the I-94 card, plus any authorized period of practical training and an additional sixty (60) days to prepare for departure. Pay close attention to the conditions described below: You must be enrolled as a full-time student at the university you are authorized to attend. This means that you must only attend the school whose I-20 you last used to enter the U.S. or the school whose I-20 you used to transfer schools. Should you decide to withdraw from the university, you are not allowed to remain in the U.S. in student status. You may engage in employment or practical training only when you have received the necessary permission. View Employment in the United States You must apply for extensions in a timely fashion. Duration of Status expires if a student takes longer than expected to complete a given academic level (e.g. bachelor’s, master’s.) The amount of time permitted for completing studies at a given level is determined by the date put on the initial I-20 issued at the beginning of each academic level. Students must pay close attention to the expected completion date noted on the form I-20 for each level. If more time is needed, an application for extension of stay must be filed with INS. There are certain requirements you must meet to be eligible for an extension, so you will need to consult with a DSO before the completion date. You must be a full-time student during each regular term of the academic year. At Webber International University this is 12 credit hours per semester for undergraduates and 8 credit hours for graduate students. Exceptions can be made on the recommendation of a DSO for valid medical or academic reasons as defined by the INS. Be sure to speak with the Student Life Office about any exceptions before dropping classes to avoid the serious consequences that may result from being out of status. NOTE: Students who fail to maintain full-time course enrollment are not eligible for any of the benefits of the student visa: on-campus and off-campus employment, practical training, remaining in the U.S. during summer vacation, transfer to another school or change of level, or registration for further courses. They are considered to be “out of status” and must apply to INS for reinstatement to valid student status within 5 months. Eligibility for benefits will be regained only if and when INS approves the reinstatement, and the INS criteria for consideration are very limited. If you have any questions regarding reinstatement, see a DSO immediately. Form I-94 I-94, also called the Arrival/Departure Record of Stay Permit, is available electronically, and the electronic record is created upon your entry into the United States. You will be able to access an electronic copy of your I-94 card from the US Customs and Border Protection website – https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. This electronic form is very important since it officially determines how long an international student can remain in the U.S. Students on the F-1 and J-1 visas usually have their I-94 documented as “D/S” (Duration of Status) which means that the student can remain in this country for the length of time required to complete his/her studies as long as the student follows all of the regulations of the student visa. The eleven digit number on your I-94 is your INS admission number which is used by the INS to monitor your entry into and departure from the U.S. This number will be your admission number for the duration of your program of study in the U.S. If you are on a visa other than an F or J, or if you have a specific date stamped on your I-94 card instead of the “D/S” designation, you must apply for an extension or exit the US before the expiration date or you will be considered out of status and a visa overstay, which can have serious INS consequences.