Applying for a Visa

Procedure:

  1. After accepting Valdosta State University's offer of admission, we will ask you to send us a copy of the biographical page of your passport, to prepare your I-20/ DS-2019. You will receive either an I-20 form (for an F-1 visa) or a DS-2019 (for a J-1 visa). This form is the one you used to obtain your F-1 or J-1 student visa, and it is a very important form. You should keep it safe with your passport. The International Student Advisor must sign your I-20 whenever you travel outside the United States, even if you are only going to be gone for a short time. If you are a graduate student, contact your academic department. If you are an undergraduate student and have not yet received your I-20 or DS-2019, contact Ms. Danielle Bacud in the Center for International Programs at iss@valdosta.edu ;or (229) 333 -7410 or (fax) (229) 245-3849.
    • Besides regular mail, we have other International Mailing Options that would get your documents to you that are quicker and safer. 

      NOTE: In addition to meeting the regular admission requirements, international applicants needing a student visa (F1/J1) must show ability to meet financial obligations of tuition, fees, and living expenses while in the U.S..A. before an I-20 and an acceptance letter will be issued. You must complete the appropriate Certificate of Finances.

  2. When you receive your I-20, you should pay the $200 SEVIS fee on-line with a credit card at FMJ Fee. You will need the SEVIS ID number in the top right corner of your I-20 (N000*******) and your passport to pay the fee. When you have paid the fee, print out the receipt so you can take it with you to the consulate. You must pay the fee at least three days before your visa interview. The SEVIS fee is a non-refundable application fee, meaning you must pay it before you can apply for the visa, but if you are denied a visa you will not receive the $200 back. If you are denied a visa, you do not have to pay the fee if you apply for an F-1 visa again in the next 12 months from when you paid the fee. Continuing students or transfer students may not be subject to the SEVIS fee, unless they have had a break in their status. Follow the Sevis Fee Payment Instructions for more information on the Sevis Fee and study the links provided at the end of this section. We are also providing detailed instructions on SEVIS I-901 Fee Payment by Western Union Quick Pay.

  3. To apply for a U.S.. visa, go to the nearest U.S.. embassy or consulate and take with you the I-20 or DS-2019 form, the letter of admission, a bank statement and other evidence of financial support at Valdosta State University, and any other documents that the visa application requires. Check the information for your nearest embassy or consulate for more details on visas when traveling to the U.S..A. The U.S.. consulate must be convinced that you have adequate financial resources to support your stay in the United States and that you do not intend to become a U.S.. immigrant. The intent to remain a non-immigrant is usually established by demonstrating that you have significant ties to your home country that would enhance the chances of your returning. When the U.S.. consul is satisfied with your application, you will receive a visa, stamped in your passport. Please note that Valdosta State University has no influence on the visa-issuing decision at the U.S.. embassy/consulate.

Important

You will need to meet three requirements when applying for a visa:

  1. Purpose of the Visa - The most important document is the I-20 or DS-2019. You can also bring copies of their TOEFL scores, admissions letters, and any other relevant information relating to their purpose of traveling to the U.S..
  2. Financial Ability - Documentation that shows that you have enough money to pay for the expected cost of tuition and living expenses while in the U.S.. Original bank documents and sponsor letters are required.
  3. Proof that you intent to return to your own home country - The consular officer may not issue a visa unless they are satisfied that the applicant:
    I) Has residence abroad;
    II)
     Has no intention of abandoning that residence;
    III)
     Intends to depart from the U.S.. upon completion of the course of study.

Remember these ten points when applying for a visa. You can also follow these tips when applying for a F-1 visas.

When you arrive at a port-of-entry in the United States, if you go through the land port of entry the immigration officer will give you a small white card called “Form I-94,” and will stamp your passport and page one of your I-20/DS-2019. If you arrive by plane, you will get an electronic admission record (I-94) created, which you can view and retrieve online at the CBP website. I-94 Automation Fact Sheet 

The I-94 and the I-20/DS-2019 are very important documents because they establish your legitimacy in the United States as a nonimmigrant student.

Keep these documents together with your passport in a safe place because you will need them when you leave the U.S..

Useful Immigration Resources

The visa needs to be valid on the day you enter or re-enter the U.S.. It does not need to remain valid while you are in the U.S.. However, if you leave the U.S.. and the visa stamp has expired, you must get another one at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad before you can return. Visa is only an "entry" visa-it does not determine how long you can remain in the U.S.. (This is designated on the I-94 card). New visa stamps cannot be obtained in the U.S..

If you leave the US after your visa expires, you must go to a US Embassy or Consulate General in your home country and obtain a new visa before you can return to the US. It is difficult to obtain a new visa in a "third country." Students who are not from Canada or Mexico are advised against trying to obtain new F-1 visas in Canada or Mexico.

Immigration Issues

F-1 Immigration Status:

  • If you are a full-time degree-seeking student at VSU, you have entered the US with F-1 immigration status. This type of immigration status is designed to allow you to obtain your degree and return home following your graduation.
  • F-1 status is a "non-immigrant" status. "Non-immigrant" means that you are not moving to the U.S.. permanently. This immigration status is valid for "duration of status. " As long as you remain a full-time student enrolled for at least 12 credit hours and are obeying all immigration and University policies, you can remain in the U.S.. legally, regardless of the expiration date on your visa.

You must immediately report the following events to the International Student Advisor who will report them to immigration and a new I-20 will be issued:

  1. A change of major
  2. An extension of your program
  3. Early completion of program
  4. A name change
  5. An address change (within 10 days)
  6. Off-campus employment through Cooperative Education
  7. Intent to transfer to another institution
  8. Request to drop below full-time attendance
  9. Move to a higher educational level

Full-Time Student Status (In-Status)

IMPORTANT - In order to maintain your full time status, you must attend school at least 9 hours per semester for graduate students and at least 12 semester hours per semester for undergraduate students. If you have any questions about this regulation, please see the International Student Advisor. Students who fail to maintain this requirement without prior permission risk being arrested and/or deported. Failure to maintain full-time attendance results in automatic revocation of International Student Scholarships. To avoid losing your full-time status, check with the ISA before you drop a class.