All international students studying in the U.S. (even if only for a short time) are required to obtain a visa. Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions to help you understand what comprises the visa process and how to apply for one.
What is an I-20 form? When American Winds admits a student, it sends the student a non-immigration form called the I-20. This form indicates your field of study (major), the length of your course, and the date when you must report to the school. The form I-20 allows a student to apply for a student visa known as the F-1 or M-1. In some cases, the school may issue a DS-2019 form which results in a J-1 student visa. Because the J-1 is not available to most students, you will most likely be issued an M-1 visa.
How do I obtain a student visa? After you receive your I-20, you will schedule a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy/ Consulate in your country. Please note that the I-20 does not guarantee receipt of an M-1 visa. The local Consular official makes the final decision on whether to issue a student visa.
- Receive I-20 form.
- Schedule your visa appointment with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country.
- Submit SEVIS Fee Payment in time to allow Department of Homeland Security to process payment at least 3 days prior to visa interview.
- If you paid online, please print SEVIS Fee Payment receipt and bring it to your visa interview.
- Go to your visa interview to request an M-1 visa. The visa may not be issued right away; many embassies mail the visa to the student a few weeks after the interview.
- The student must present his or her I-20 and passport to an U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry for the M-1 student visa stamp.
When can I enter the U.S.A.? Visa regulations allow you to enter the U.S.A. up to 30 days before the first day of classes (the reporting date shown on your I-20). If you attempt to enter the U.S. earlier, you will be denied entry at the airport immigration area. Please plan your flight itinerary with this policy in mind.
What happens if I cannot arrive by the reporting date? SEVIS has restrictions on re-admission, therefore, you must request a new I-20 from American Winds.
What will happen when I enter the U.S.A.? An airline flight attendant will ask you to complete the I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) in the airplane before you land at the U.S. port of entry. You will present the I-94 form and your passport to the immigration inspector when you land. The immigration inspector will stamp the I-94 form with “D/S (duration of status). “D/S” means that you may stay in the U.S.A. until you complete your studies. You should keep the I-94 form and a copy of your valid I-20 with your passport at all times.
What are my obligations as a student on an M-1 visa? Students on an M-1 visa must follow the regulations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A student must:
- Register for classes at American Winds which issued the I-20.
- Be enrolled as a full-time student while you are in the U.S.A.
How long can I stay in the U.S.A.? The I-20 indicates the length of time you can stay to finish your course of studies. Generally, you may stay 30 days after the last day of class.
If I cannot complete my studies in the required time, may I stay longer? If you need a longer time to complete your studies, the Designated School Official (DSO) at American Winds will help you apply for an extension. If you have completed your studies, you are not allowed to continue to stay in the U.S. with the I-20, even if it has not expired.
If my visa expires, how do I renew it? The visa is an entry document only. The visa needs to be valid only at the time you enter the U.S.A. It does not need to be renewed if you stay in the U.S.A. However, you may wish to visit Canada, Mexico, or your home country during vacation periods. If your visa has expired, ask the DSO at American Winds to provide complete information about how to renew your visa. You may then apply for a new visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting.