SEVIS and F-1 Visas
What is an F-1 Visa?
A majority of matriculating students at Whitworth hold an F-1 visa. An F-1 is a non-immigrant student visa. A college student with a valid F-1 visa may remain in the United States as long as he/she is enrolled in a full-time degree-seeking program at a U.S. college or university. Students may also attend a U.S. high school on an F-1 visa.
What is SEVIS?
The Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is the online system that the U.S. government established to maintain correct and current information on non-immigrant students, exchange visitors, scholars, and their dependents. The system helps the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ensure that non-immigrant international students and scholars are in the U.S. legally and studying or working in the school that has accepted them.
What is the Form I-20 and why do I need it?
The I-20 is a government form issued by schools to certify that a student is eligible to receive an F-1 visa. In order to receive an I-20 from a school, a student must be admitted and provide evidence that they possess funds sufficient to cover the cost of attendance. Admitted students at Whitworth will also be required to pay the international student of $5,000 before an I-20 is issued.
How do I become an F-1 Student?
In order to obtain an F-1 visa, a student must take the following steps:
- Be admitted to a U.S. school
- Give evidence of sufficient funds to attend that school
- Obtain a Form I-20 from the admitting school
- Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee. You may pay online: https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.jsp
- Apply for a visa (Form DS-160) and pay the visa application fee. You can apply online: http://travel.state.gov/visa/forms/forms_4230.html
Make an appointment at your local U.S. consulate. Please note that the time required to obtain a visa interview can range from days to weeks, depending on the country and region, so give yourself sufficient time to obtain the visa. Call the consulate as soon as you have received your I-20. You can make a visa appointment within 120 days of the program start date listed on your I-20.
Find a U.S. consulate or embassy near you: www.usembassy.gov.
- Go to your visa appointment and bring the following documents:
- Your Form I-20
- Your SEVIS Fee receipt
- A valid passport (note: the passport must not be set to expire within six months of your program start date and arrival in the U.S.)
- Two 2x2 inch passport photographs
- Your completed, signed visa application forms
- Copies of your financial documents, including original bank statement that shows you have sufficient funds to study at Whitworth for the upcoming year.
For complete information about applying for a student visa, please visit the U.S. State Department website at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html.
If you are already an F-1 Student:
If you are currently attending a U.S. school as an active F-1 student, your SEVIS record will need to be transferred to our school.
I-20 Transfer Procedures
You may not enter the U.S. more than 30 days before the program starting date on your I-20. However, you must arrive in the U.S. by the program start date listed on your I-20. If your arrival will be delayed for any reason such as illness, you must notify the OISS immediately.
U.S. Port of Entry Procedures
1-94 Arrival and Departure Record
You will be given an I-94 Arrival/Departure card to fill out on board the airplane as you approach the U.S. Customs agents at the airport will retain part of this card, and stamp the other part, which you keep. The stamp will show your U.S. entry date and place. The I-94 card will usually be stapled into your passport. Do not lose this card, because it is the record that proves you entered the U.S. legally.
Documents you need to show the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer:
What if I have lost or forgotten one of my documents?
You may be denied entry into the U.S., or the CBP officer may give you a Form I-515A to fill out. The I-515A gives you temporary legal entry into the U.S. It is only valid for 30 days. Within those 30 days, you must send the correct document to USCIS.
If you have filled out the I-515A, you should bring this to the OISS within a day or two of your arrival for further instructions.
What Are My Responsibilities as an F-1 Student?
As an F-1 visa holder, you have specific responsibilities that you must fulfill in order to maintain the status of your visa. These include:
For complete instructions about your responsibilities and requirements to maintain status, please visit the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Website: www.ice.gov/sevis/SEVISFactSheet.htm.
It is the responsibility of the F-1 visa holder to know the requirements and terms of the visa. However, Whitworth University aims to help our international students maintain their visa status.