EducationUSA Interactive: Student Visas and the 8 Step International Student Process


[MUSIC PLAYING] PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
When we study together and we learn together,
we work together, and we prosper together. [MUSIC PLAYING] ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
KRISTINA THOMPSON: I would like to
welcome our viewers from around the world to our
latest EducationUSA Interactive series web chat. Today, we will
discuss student visas and the eight-step international
student visa process, all the steps you need to
take to get your student visa and study in the United States. I’m Kristina Thompson, associate
director for International Student and Scholar Services
at American University here in Washington, DC. Today’s program
is brought to you by EducationUSA, a U.S.
Department of State network of over 400 advising centers
in 170 countries where millions of international
students each year find information about
how to apply to accredited U.S. colleges and universities. Understanding the
process can be confusing, so our panel of experts
here will tell you the eight steps
you need to know, and we’ll answer your questions
about those eight steps throughout the program. Sitting next to me is Tandice
Ghajar of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She is a program analyst for
the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, SEVP. Also with us is Kim
Shaw, Consular Officer for the State Department’s
Bureau of Consular Affairs. Welcome to both of you. Also in the chat space
next to the video player, we have Larissa Proctor
with Consular Affairs, and Scott Kristofferson
and Ryan Broadwater from the Student and
Exchange Visitor Program. They will help
answer your questions and provide helpful resources. You can also ask your
questions via Twitter with hashtag #EducationUSA. OK, so Tandice. What are the first few
steps our viewers need to take in order to start
the process of studying in the United States? PROGRAM ANALYST TANDICE
GHAJAR: Well, first, Kristina, thank you for having me here. I love talking to prospective
international students. OK step one is to apply to
an SEVP-certified school. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Can you tell us, what is an
SEVP-certified school? PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: SEVP stands for the Student and
Exchange Visitor Program, and that’s where I work. Among other things
that we do, SEVP provides information to
international students coming to study in the U.S.,
and has a database of schools that are acceptable
for foreign students to attend with a U.S. visa. You must study at
a school approved by SEVP to get an F or M visa. To find a school
you can attend, we encourage you to visit our
website, Study in the States, and to use the interactive
school search tool. You can use this tool to find a
school by its name or location. You can also search
for the type of school that you would like to attend,
whether it’s a high school, college, or university. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Thank you. Before we move on to step two
in the international student process, I wanted to
first say something about getting accepted into
an SEVP-certified school. Schools usually have
a formal application for students where
they can indicate their intended area of study
and provide basic information about themselves. An international
applicant may also need to submit
documentation regarding their English language
ability, transcripts, and a statement of purpose
where a student can outline their interest in
studying at a university, and perhaps share
a personal story. A university may require
letters of recommendation. There is also the need to
demonstrate financial ability to remain in the United States
to pay for tuition, books, living expenses, and other fees. The hope is that when an
international student arrives in the U.S., they are ready to
pursue their academic program and focus on school and the
new exciting experiences that await them. An international
student orientation, engaging in coursework
with U.S., classmates, and sharing their
global perspectives with Americans who want to learn
about life beyond our borders. So once you’re admitted into
an SEVP-approved school, congratulations. You’ve reached step two,
receiving your Form I-20. So what is a Form I-20, and
what do students do with it? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: That’s
a good question, Kristina. Once a perspective
student is admitted to an SEVP-certified
school, that school will send the
student a form called the Form I-20,
Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Status. That’s a long name,
but what it means is it is a signed paper
record of your information that is logged into a database
called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information
System, SEVIS, so we can have a record
of your information when you study in
the United States. You will receive a Form
I-20 from each school that accepts you, but should only use
the form sent by the school you decide to attend. When you receive
your Form I-20, be sure to compare the information
listed on the form with what is on your passport. Make sure that your
name, date of birth, and all your other information
matches on both documents. And if anything is
incorrect or missing, contact your designated school
official as soon as possible so they can issue you
an update a Form I-20. And also, please make sure
you keep the Form I-20 from the school you decide
to attend in a safe place, because you will need it later. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. So step three is called
paying the I-901 SEVIS fee. Tandice, can you tell our
viewers a little bit more about this fee, and
how they pay it? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Sure. Paying the I-901 SEVIS
fee is an important step that all prospective
international students need to do. They must all pay the fee
before applying for a student visa, which my colleague, Kim,
will talk to you a bit more about during step four. Students from most
countries can pay the fee by logging into fmjfee.com. But there are other ways to
pay, such as using Western Union Quick Pay or with
a certified check. You do need a
valid email address to complete this process. And once you pay
your I-901 SEVIS fee, you need to print
the payment receipt. Make sure the information
on your receipt, again, is correct. Like your Form I-20, keep your
Form I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt safe. You may need to present it
during your visa interview and when you seek to enter the
United States at a U.S. port of entry. Paying the I-901 SEVIS fee
can be a tricky process, so we developed the I-901
SEVIS fee payment tutorial on our Study in the States page. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Thanks, Tandice. That was a lot of
information, so I would like to take
this opportunity to see if we have
any online questions about these first three steps. Applying to an
SEVP-certified school, receiving your I-20 form, and
paying your I-901 SEVIS fee. Again, please write
your questions into the chat space next
to the video player, and we will get to them
throughout the program. One question that
I have is, can you talk a bit more about the
SEVIS fee, and what it is for? PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Sure thing. That I-901 SEVIS fee is
required by regulation for all prospective
F and M students in order to receive a visa to
study in the United States. The fee itself supports
SEVP and its efforts to assist students while
they study in the U.S. It also helps with everything
from maintaining SEVIS to the staffing of the SEVP
office, among other things. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. So our first online question. This is for Kim. Can I apply for the visa before
paying the I-901 SEVIS fee? CONSULAR OFFICER KIM SHAW:
We recommend that you don’t. We do encourage you to
apply as early as possible, but when you’re
ready and you have all the required documents. And so we encourage
you to have the I-20 and to have the SEVIS fee paid
before you apply for the visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Thank you. OK. And a question for Tandice. Can international students
work part time or full time with a student visa? PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Well, I think we’re going to talk about
this a little bit more later, but there are some
work and training opportunities that are available
to international students. They all require permission. So the first step
if you want to work is to talk to your
designated school official. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
OK, another question. Ergi From Albania
asks, is the form I-20 completed by me or
someone at the school that I’m going to attend? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Oh. Well, the Form I-20 is completed
by your designated school official, which could be
your international student adviser or maybe someone
in the admissions office. It depends. Would you like to say anything
more about that, Kristina? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah, that would be the step after you’re
admitted to the university and you’ve shown that you
have your financial documents. Then you would be issued
an I-20 by the university, and that would be sent
to you by the university. OK. At this point, a
student can finally begin the student
visa application and move to step four. Kim, can you explain step four,
applying for a student visa? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: Absolutely. We always encourage
applicants to look at the website of
the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they plan
to have their visa interview. That website has
specific information about the application
procedures for that location, including how to make the
visa interview appointment and how to pay the nonrefundable
visa application fee. The fee is currently $160. The website will
also have a link to complete the DS-160, which
is the Nonimmigrant Visa Application form. It helps when you’re
completing this form to have your passport
and your I-20 with you. After you complete the
online application, you’ll need to print out
the confirmation page and take that with
you to your interview at that embassy or consulate. During the interview, we
will collect the applicant’s fingerprints electronically,
and the applicant has a chance to tell us
about his or her plans to study in the U.S. All
applicants need to tell us about who they are,
what they want to do, and how they plan to pay
for their studies and living expenses, as well
as what they plan to do at the end of
their studies in the U.S. The interview will probably
only last a few minutes, so we really
encourage applicants to be ready to talk to
the consular officer. After the interview,
if the consular officer determines that the applicant
is qualified for the visa, that applicant would
be advised on how they would receive that visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
It may seem like a lot to do, but after the student
has been accepted to an SEVP-certified school,
received their Form I-20, paid their I-901 SEVIS
fee, and received their nonimmigrant
student visa, they are ready to depart
for the United States. Before we move on
to the next step, I’d like to stop to
answer some questions that our online viewers may
have about paying the visa fee or the interview. One question is, are
there different kinds of student visas? What kind of visa will I get? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: As
Tandice mentioned before, there are F and M visas that
we consider student visas. And we will know
from the I-20 based on the program they applied
for if they’re applying for an F or M visa, and they
would indicate that when they fill out the DS-160, which
is that online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. A viewer from Burkina
Faso asks, how early can I apply for my student visa? If my courses
start in September, can I make my visa
appointment interview in June? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
That’s a great idea. We always encourage applicants
to apply as soon as possible. As soon as you have the
I-20 and as soon as you’ve paid the SEVIS fee,
we encourage you to complete the
application online and to make the appointment. That allows more time for us to
make sure that we can see you, and gives you time to prepare
for your trip to the U.S. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. Other viewer asks, is
the SAT score report necessary for the
visa interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: It is
not necessary for the visa interview. That’s something that perhaps
the school might require, but the admission
process to the university is completely
separate and distinct from the process for
the visa interview, and we do not
require test scores. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Ergi from Albania
asks, what documents do I need to bring with
me to the visa interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
We would need to first have that confirmation page
from completing the DS-160, and we would also
need to have the SEVIS fee receive that
Tandice discussed, and the I-20 as well. Additional documents
might be requested by the specific embassy
or consulate where you would be making that
appointment as the student, and those would be
outlined on that website. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. And another question. If I’m approved, will I
receive a visa the same day as my interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
Unfortunately, no. We’re not able to issue
the visas the same day. But you would know at
the end of your interview how you would receive
the visa back, if you would need to come
back yourself to pick it up, or if there is a courier
service that would deliver it to you in the country. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. Another viewer asks, hi, my son
is eight and my daughter is 14. Can my family apply
for a visa with me? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
Your family, your children and your spouse would be
able to apply for visas. There’s another
process that you would go through with your
designated school official to have I-20s issued for
them as well, I believe. And we need that in order to
be able to process the visa. That would be an F2 or an
M2 visa based on your status as the F1 or M1 holder. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah, it would be important that you
tell the university at the time that you’re applying– or that
you’re applying for your I-20, that you will need an I-20
for your dependents as well. Another viewer from
Bangladesh asks, is it true that Bangladeshis are
not eligible for student visas? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
That’s not true at all. Anybody is eligible
for a student visa, and again, we would need
to have an I-20 issued from the SEVP-certified school
that tells us that you’re planning to participate
in an academic program at an SEVP-certified school. And that’s the basis for
the visa application. Anybody is eligible to do this. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: What kind of financial documents do I need
to provide for the student visa or admission to a university? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: Would you like to tackle the admission part? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah, I mean, you would need to show that
you have adequate funds to support your studies. So that might be a
combination of scholarships, it might be personal funding, it
might be funds from a sponsor. But it generally needs
to be liquid funds that are available to pay for
your studies at that time. Do you want to say more about
what you would be looking for at the visa appointment? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: Absolutely. So we look at that
I-20 that the school has issued that tells
us what your review of those financial
documents was, and how the student plans to
pay for the tuition and living expense costs that are
outlined on the I-20. And then we’ll discuss that
with the student as well. We may ask for
some documentation. We may not. Again, some of the
embassies and consulates would specifically
say on their website if they do require them. But it may simply
be a conversation to learn a bit more
about that funding and ensure that the student
has all of their funding to complete the program. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah. So your university would
be able to tell you what a year of estimated
expenses would be. CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: Absolutely. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: OK, Kim. Any final thoughts or tips
about the student visa interview process that we
haven’t mentioned yet? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: A few reminders. Remember that when you
apply for the visa, you need to demonstrate
to the consular officer that you’re entitled to the
visa that you’re seeking. And you do this in the interview
with a consular officer. This is your chance to
tell us why you would like to study in the United States. We do know that
applicants can be nervous, and we try to put
them at ease, but we don’t have very long to
talk during the interview. And so we really
encourage applicants to listen to our
questions and answer them as honestly and
completely as they can. It is OK to ask for
clarification if you don’t understand the question. We do love to issue visas
to all qualified students, and it’s important
to know that there’s no cap or limit on how many
student visas we can issue. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Let’s go to the remaining
steps in the visa process. Step five is arriving in the
United states Tandice and Kim, do you have any
important reminders for students who are preparing
to leave for the U.S.? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Yes,
that’s a great question. Remember, you can only
enter the United States up to 30 days before
your program starts. And you can find your program
start date on your Form I-20 that we’ve been talking about. And when you’re
traveling, you need to have several forms
and documents with you. Your original Form I-20, again,
a valid visa and passport, and proof of your I-901
SEVIS fee payment. It’s also a good idea to bring
proof of school enrollment or your acceptance
letter with you. And make sure you have
the name and contact information of your
school official, as well as a 24-hour
emergency contact telephone number if your school’s
international student office or other
similar office has one. And it’s also a good idea to
carry your original documents with you at all times. So do not put them in
your checked baggage. You should make two
copies of these documents, one copy to leave with your
family before you depart, and it’s great to
give another copy to your international
student adviser, or DSO. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Once international students go through a port of entry at
an airport or a land border and are in the United States,
what do they need to do next? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Well,
once you arrive in the United States, you need to check in
with your school official. And you should do this
by the program start date listed on your Form I-20. And we recommend
actually that you just contact your DSO or
international student adviser as soon as you arrive, as
soon as you enter the country, so there is no question
about your arrival date. And plus, they probably have
all kinds of great information for you as well. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
And what happens if a student cannot arrive in
the United States, or might be delayed
by a few days? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR:
That’s a very good question, because this can happen. Sometimes your
plans might change, or you might be
delayed by a few days. And if you can’t arrive
in the United States by the program start date
listed on your Form I-20, or if you will be
late by a few days, immediately contact
your DSO so that they’re aware of your situation and
can correct the information on your Form I-20. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Definitely. OK, let’s talk about steps
six, seven, and eight. Maintaining your
status while you’re a student, post-graduation
opportunities, and departing the United States. PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: All right. First of all, step six. To maintain your status as
an international student, this means just maintaining
all the conditions of being an
international student and having that student visa. So you must take a full
course of study each term. If you cannot study full time
or if you experience any issues, contact your international
student adviser or your designated school
official immediately. Your DSO at your school
is dedicated to helping you know how to maintain your
student status while you attend school in the United States. They can answer
your questions, help you fill out important forms. Your DSO is one of the best
resources available to you while in the United
States, and you can and you should talk to your
DSO about several things. About work opportunities
in the United States, changes to your classes
or living situation, transferring to a
different school, taking time off, or even
taking an extended trip home. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Let’s go to step seven now,
post-graduation opportunities. After a student
graduates, can he or she stay in the United States
to attend a graduate school program or to work? How can a student do this,
and what are the conditions? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: This
is something a lot of students ask about. And an international
student can simply choose to go back to their
home country after graduation, but there are a couple
of other options too. As an F1 student, you can
transfer from one school to another or pursue
a higher level degree at the same school. You can also participate in
a type of on-the-job training called Optional
Practical Training, OPT. And you need to apply to a
government organization called U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services for Authorization to do OPT. And it’s really important that
international students never work without permission. Once you’ve received
this authorization, you can stay in the country
to do OPT in a field related to what you studied while
in the United States, usually for up to one year
or longer if your degree is in science, technology,
engineering, or mathematics. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Let’s quickly go through step
eight now, departing the U.S., before getting to more
online viewer questions. Most of you will be
F1 students, which means you will have 60
days to depart the United States after your program
of study or your OPT ends, unless you are changing status. If you’re coming to
the United States as a vocational or
M1 visa student, you are typically admitted
until a certain date, and that period of admission
includes a 30-day grace period after your program. All right. Let’s get to some more
of our online questions. If I change my major or degree
program once I am in the U.S. and in school, do I
need to let my DSO know? How does that work? PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Well, maybe we can both answer this question. Yes, it’s really
good to always let your DSO know exactly
what program you’re in and what your major
is, because this is one of the things they
have to put on that Form I-20. Now sometimes if
you’re at a big school, if you just notify
the registrar’s office or your department or
something like that, it will go into
a database, which then will go into
SEVIS, the database that generates your I-20. Is that right, Kristina? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Yeah, that’s right. So it’s very common for
students in the United States to change their majors. It’s a nice, flexible feature
of studying in the U.S., and so it’s very common. And you will need to
make sure you follow the process to let your DSO know
in the international student office. And we will actually
issue a new I-20 that reflects your new
major, because you need to, at all times, have
a document that reflects what your actual studies are. PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Great. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
OK, a question for Kim. What kind of visa
does a student need to do an English-language
learning program rather than a complete degree? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: We
look at the primary purpose of the travel to the
U.S. And if the person is traveling to the
U.S. for study, even in an English-language
program, they would need to have an
I-20 for an F1 visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Herat asks, how early should
I apply for my student visa? How long does it take? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: We encourage you to apply as early as possible. And you need to fill out
the application form usually before you can make
the appointment. And so we really
encourage people to apply as soon as they get the I-20. We can’t issue the
visa until 120 days before the start of
the program date. So we can always hold
the visa, and then issue it at that 120-day mark. So as soon as you get
the I-20 for the school that you would
like to attend, we encourage you to make
your visa appointment. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another of our viewers asks,
could a visa application be refused even if the student
has been admitted to a U.S. college and has a scholarship? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
That’s the great question. It is possible. The visa application process is
different from the university admission process and from the
scholarship selection process. So it is possible
that a visa could be refused for a student
who has been accepted to a program at a
university and has been selected for a scholarship. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Darko from Serbia
asks, how can he change his nonimmigrant status
while in the United States? If he enters as a J1
visa holder but wants to switch to an F1 visa after
completing his J1 program, how would he do so? PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Well, it may be possible to change
from one nonimmigrant visa type to another– to
change your status is what this is called– while
you’re in the United States. There are certain
rules for J1 visas, so you may not always
be able to do it, depending on what type you have. But some people can do it. And if they wanted
to do this, they would apply to part of
the government called U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services, and they would file a
form called the I-539. But the first stop
is really always to talk to your designated
school official about this, and they can really help
you through the process. Does that sound right, Kristina? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah. If a 920 needed to be issued or
a DS-2019, we would issue that, and we would advise the
student through the process. PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Great. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Can you explain, again, the difference
between F1 and F2 visas? Can my brother accompany
me on an F2 visa, is one of our questions. CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: An F1 visa would be for the student who is
going to study in the program, and the F2 would include
the spouse or the children. It does not include siblings. So the brother would not
be able to get an F2 visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Nia from Bangladesh
asks, can I get a visa before I’m admitted
to a U.S. institution? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: Since we’re talking about
student visas here, we really encourage you to have
all the information before you make the interview
appointment, and that would mean the acceptance
to the university that you wish to attend. And that I-20 is what you bring
with you to the interview. So we encourage everyone
to wait until they’ve been admitted to the
university before they apply for the student visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another viewer asks, other
than a bank statement, do I need to show any other
documents during my visa interview? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: You may not be required to
show any documents other than the I-20 and the
SEVIS fee receipt information. However, again, I would
encourage applicants to look at the website for
the embassy or consulate where they plan to
apply, to see if there are specific documents
suggested or required at that specific location
as part of their procedures. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: A viewer asks, if a prospective
student receives a scholarship for
their program of study, how will this impact the
financial documents they are required to present
for their visa interview? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: First of all, it’s a great thing to be
chosen for a scholarship. We would see that information
usually on the I-20 that the student presents. And they may have received
additional paperwork. They may have received a letter
to confirm that they have been selected for this scholarship. They’re certainly
welcome to bring it. We may not actually
need to see it. We would see the information,
usually on the I-20. And again, we would have a
discussion with the student to make sure that all of the
fees required for tuition and living expenses are
something that he or she would be able to cover. And we would take that
scholarship into account, certainly, and then look
for any remaining money that would need to make
up the difference between that scholarship and
the total fees for tuition and living expenses. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
P. Perez in Melbourne asks, is there an age
limit for someone who is applying for a visa? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
There is no age limit for somebody applying. If the question is
specific to an F1 student, it would depend on the program
and the program requirements. So the university might have
some specific requirements about their admission
process, but as far as the visa is concerned,
there’s no age requirement. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Lara from Kurdistan says that she’s in
10th grade and wants to study medicine in a college
in the U.S. in two years. Will she be able to apply
for a visa at that time, and how much will it cost? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
Both are great questions. She we’ll definitely be able to
apply for a visa at that time. The current cost for the
nonimmigrant visa application is $160. And the price may change
when she is applying, and she would be able
to find that information on the embassy’s
website when she goes to look at making
her application. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Another viewer asks, if my student visa is
valid for five years, but my passport is only valid
for the next three years, what should I do once
my passport expires? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: This is
a great question, and part of it might depend on the country’s
policy with their passports. We want people who
come to the U.S. and enter the U.S. to
always have a valid passport and a valid visa. So if the country
that this person is in will allow them to keep
the old passport that has the current valid
visa in it and will issue them another passport,
they could travel with both. If this is a country where they
must take back the passport and the person plans to
travel outside of the U.S. and then come back, they would
need to apply for a new visa so that they have a valid visa
with them when they come back to the United States. PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR:
Kristina, maybe I can talk about those
documents when the student is in the United States. It’s OK if your visa expires
after you have already entered the United States,
because it was basically like your ticket in the door. But you need to have a
valid passport all the time when you’re studying
in the United States. So you would need to renew that
passport before it expires. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. Thank you. OK, another question. Priya asks, what is the latest
that I can apply for my F1 visa if my course starts
on August 22? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: Ooh. [LAUGHTER] Ooh. I usually prefer to
talk about the earliest that you can apply. Well, you can come to the U.S.
30 days prior to the start date and be admitted. And that time is
usually set aside to get settled in the new
country that you’re coming to. So we would really encourage
students to apply even before that 30-day window. Again, we know some things
happen, and we talked earlier. You may have to talk to the
designated school official if you need to come later than
the date that is on the I-20. But we really encourage
students to not look at what is the latest date
they can apply for the visa. We really encourage them to look
at, what is the earliest date? And again, we can issue the visa
120 days before s program start date, and we much
prefer to do that. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Yeah, your I-20 only permits you to enter up
until that starting date, so it’s really important to
apply as early as possible, if you can. Another question. Aaron asks, if the
visa has been refused, can the student apply again? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: Yes. You can always apply again. A refusal is for
that application. And so you can make
another appointment and try again in your interview. We encourage you
to really take note if you’ve been refused
a visa to understand why the visa was denied at
the end of that interview. And then we encourage you
to be prepared the next time you come for a visa interview,
to demonstrate how you now are qualified for
the visa, and how those potential issues from that
refusal are no longer relevant, or you have overcome
those specific issues. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Another viewer asks, if I already
have a B1/B2 visa, do I need to fill
out the application and pay again to
receive the F1 visa? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: We
highly recommend that you do, because the visa
is the permission to travel to the port
of entry, and then request to be admitted by CBP. And Customs and
Border Protection will ask what the purpose of
your visit to the U.S. is. And then they look at the
visa that you have with you. So if you would go
to the port of entry and tell Customs and
Border Protection that you plan to study in
the U.S., that’s not permissible under
your B1/B2 visa, and you may be turned around. We really encourage you to
have the appropriate visa when you come to the border,
and that would mean an F1 visa. Tandice did speak earlier about
a possible change of status, but that is a very,
very long process, and it might be difficult then
to start a program if you’ve entered on a B1
and then you wish to make the change of
status request to CIS. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Definitely. OK. Another question. Is a visa issued for entire
duration of education, or is it issued
on a yearly basis? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
This is a great question. We look at what the program
duration is on the I-20. And most of our
student visas, when we talk about student
visas, are F1 visas. And we actually issue
them for the full validity allowed under a
reciprocal agreement we have with the country. And that allows for possible
changes or extensions in the study program. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: And I think it’s important to
remember what Tandice said, that it’s not actually
necessary to have a visa that’s valid for the
entire length of your program. Once you’re in the United States
and enrolled in that program, it’s appropriate for
you to stay and complete that program of study until
the next time you travel. PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Yes. And the date on your
I-20 is really important when you’re in the United States
after you’re already here. And your Form I-20
will typically be issued for an F1 student for
the duration of your program. And you’ll talk to
your DSO, or it’s recommended to do so,
if you need more time to finish your program
so they can change the date on your Form I-20. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: That’s right. Another viewer asks, is
there any extra requirement for a student who graduated
from a University in Afghanistan and would like to continue
his studies in the U.S.? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: We don’t
have additional requirements based on where somebody
studied when they go to make their visa application. So it would be the
same requirements as any prospective
student, and they would need to have been admitted
to the SEVP-certified school and have that I-20, and be
able to talk about what they plan to do in the
U.S. and how they plan to pay for the program. There’s no additional
documents required based on a certain country. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Another viewer question. If I arrive in the
U.S. on an F1 visa, but then I want to change
schools, how do I do so? And do I need a new
visa at that time? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR:
This is a good question. So F1 international
students are allowed to transfer from one
school to another, sort of like the way
students from here are allowed to transfer. And this can happen. Perhaps the school
that you arrive at is not the perfect
fit for you, or you decide to become accepted to
a better school, or anything like that. And what you would want
to do is definitely notify the international student
office or the designated school official at the school you
are currently at and say, I’d like to transfer. And they are supposed
to let you do that. And they will help you
with getting your SEVIS record transferred from
one school to another, and they’ll probably need
to see proof that you’re accepted to the other school. But it’s really important
to get your SEVIS record to follow you, or to
follow your SEVIS record from one school to another. Would you have anything
to add, Kristina? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Yeah, that’s right. When you ask us to transfer
your record from one university to another, then our role is
to send that to that school, and then they would
electronically receive your I-20
record, and they would be able to issue and I-20
for you once you have shown that you have your
financial documents, you’ve been accepted, et cetera. But it’s important to do that
after you’ve been accepted. PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Yes. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
And on the visa side, you don’t need to have
a new visa issued simply for changing the school. As long as your visa
is either still valid, or you’re already in the
U.S., your visa is fine. If your visa has expired
when you leave the U.S., if you need to come
back for your program, you would apply for a new visa. And at that point, we would
ask to see that new I-20, and we would put that new
information on the visa. But it’s perfectly fine
to have the visa that was issued for the first
school that’s still valid and the new I-20
for the new school. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. Another viewer asks,
does the consular officer need to see a bank
statement from the U.S. or from my country? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
The consular officer does not need to see
the bank statements. However, they can always
ask for a document if they feel that
they need it in order to make a better determination
of your financial situation. We usually don’t
require documents beyond the I-20 and
the SEVIS fee receipt. However, if they do you
know that they have the need to request these in
the specific country, they usually put that
information on their website. Otherwise, it still is something
that an officer could ask for, and we do encourage people
to have additional documents with them in the event that
the consular officer would ask. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: We always recommend that you carry the
same documents you showed to the university to
your visa appointment, just so they can see what
documents you presented. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
That’s very helpful. And we’re looking at the
information that’s on the I-20. So the information that
they presented to you to explain how they were
going to pay for those fees is some of the
information that we would be looking for as well. It may not need to be
a specific document, but it certainly helps to have
it with them just in case. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
And we certainly see funding sources from
students’ home countries and from the United States,
depending on the situations. OK. A question for Tandice. When will a prospective
student be assigned a DSO at the university they
have been accepted to? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR:
This is a good question. Maybe we can answer it together. It would be almost right
away once you’re accepted, and they see on your
application that you’re an international applicant. Because the next step will be
to review your information, making sure that they review
the specific things that are required for an
international student, and issue the I-20. And a DSO is the person who
needs to issue the I-20. So it could be someone
in the admissions office, and then there may be a separate
international student office, depending on how
big your school is. There can be one person
who fulfills several roles at some schools, and
then there may be, like, up to 10 or 15 DSOs
at some other schools. But you’ll get one pretty
early in the process. Would you say so, Kristina? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah, definitely. If you ever had a
question at that point about where your DSO was, you
could contact the university and ask who was going
to be issuing your I-20, and that would be probably
the place to start. PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Great idea. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another question. I have heard that F1 visas are
only for university programs, and not for English
language studies. Is this true? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: No, you can have an F1 for English
language studies, and we do see them
quite a bit overseas. And perhaps you’ve issued
I-20s for them as well. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Mohan asks, will I be told
at the end of the interview whether the visa was
issued or refused? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: Absolutely. We will let you know
before you leave. If we can issue the
visa to you– and again, we’ll tell you if you need
to come back to pick it up or how it will be
delivered to you. If the visa is denied, if we
have to refuse the application, we’ll explain why
you’re being refused, and you’ll also be
given a piece of paper. And there is even a
third alternative where we need to have you bring
back some more information or we need to do some
more work on our side, and we’ll let you know that
we’ll contact you later to continue the process. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Regins asks, if I’m a Kurdish
student living in Taiwan, am I allowed to apply for
a student visa in a country outside my home country? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
It’s a great question. You can apply
anywhere in theory. Again, we encourage you to look
at the website for the embassy or consulate where you plan
to make your application. And one reason is
some of these places are not able to grant
interviews to people who are not ordinarily
resident in that country. Another reason
why you might want to apply in your home country
is that our officers there would be able to
understand better the situation in
your home country, and maybe understand
more of the interview. When you’re going through and
you’re explaining, perhaps, the financial aspect, or
other elements that we get at in the visa
interview, it might be more advantageous to
apply in your home country. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. A lot of students are
asking about visas for certain areas of study. Will studying pharmacy
versus accounting affect an applicant’s
chances of getting a visa? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: No, not at all. So we interview the
applicant, and we want to know from him or
her what the plans are, why they wish to study
in the U.S., why they wish to study this program. And that interview is the
conversation with them about those plans. We want them to be
truthful, and we want to hear more about why
they want to get this degree, and what they plan
to do with it. There isn’t a certain
right degree program to seek, except for the one
that you really want to do. And we want to issue visas
correctly and appropriately. So we encourage people to
apply to the universities for the programs
they wish to study, and then we would be
doing the visa interview about that program. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. Will the visa interview
be conducted in English or in my native language? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
This is a great question. We’re able to do both. Our consular officers
receive language training. One of the things we do,
though, is we look at the I-20, and we look and see, does
this program require English? And is the assessment already
done by the designated school official that the student has
the required English level? And so if that is
the case, and this is a program that
requires English, and the student has
submitted documentation to support their
English language skills, we would interview that
student in English. If, as we’ve already
discussed, if they wish to apply for an
English language program, we would also look at that
I-20, and it would most likely tell us that English
is not required. And in those cases,
we would definitely interview that student
in their native language. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Great. OK, a question for Tandice. A viewer asks, what is an I-94? Do I need it to enter
as an F1 visa holder? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR:
That is a good question. An I-94 is a form, although
it’s now a paperless form, so it’s electronic. It’s in the database. And it tells you how
long you’re allowed to stay in the United States. You will be given one when
you reach the port of entry, meaning the airport or
the place where you first enter the United States. And you’ll be able to
look up your information in this database, and it will
tell you how long you can stay. For an F1 student,
the I-94 is usually issued for what is called
duration of status, and that means you can stay as
long as you’re still studying or doing practical training. As long as you’re still
maintaining your valid F1 status, you can stay. So that’s what the I-94 does. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Thank you. A question for Kim. What are some of
the reasons students are refused a student visa? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: Well,
sometimes we refuse students because they have the
demonstrated ability to pay for the
first year of study, but they don’t have the
demonstrated ability to pay for the remaining
years of study. And we’re concerned
that they wouldn’t be able to maintain
status in the U.S. without compromising
their status and engaging in illegal work. So that’s one reason why we
might have to refuse the visa. There are other times where
the applicant themselves has not demonstrated that they
are qualified for the visa. And it’s important to know
that we start at the assumption that many of the
nonimmigrant visa applicants, including students, are
intending immigrants. And that is actually a
requirement by the Immigration and Nationality Act. And the student, in their
conversation with us in the interview,
needs to demonstrate that they overcome
that assumption, that they are an
intending immigrant. And so that’s why
we are asking what they plan to do in
the U.S., why they’ve chosen this field of study,
and what their plans are once they receive that degree
or they complete the program. And we hope that
that information helps paint the
complete picture of what they plan to do, and
confirm that they wish to study and remain in status
while they’re in the U.S., and that they, at the
time of the interview, don’t plan to
emigrate to the U.S. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: All right. Another question. Is an international student
in the United States able to transfer between
SEVP-certified schools once they are in the country? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Well,
good question, Kristina. And I think we already talked
about this a little bit, but yes. An international student is
able to transfer from one school to another. And I don’t know
if we said this, but specifically, they both
must be SEVP-certified schools. So not only do you
need to be admitted to an SEVP-certified school
for your first time coming to the United States,
your first school, but if you have
another school, you need it to be
SEVP-certified as well. And you can transfer in
the middle of your program or to begin a new program of
study at a different school to continue your studies
from, say, a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree,
or something like that. So yes, you can transfer. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another question from
one of our viewers. I have an immigrant
visa petition pending. Will this affect my chances
of getting a student visa? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
It very well might. As we just discussed,
we are trying to assess if they have an
intent to emigrate or not. And if they do at the
time of the application, we would likely need
to refuse the visa. So having this pending
immigrant visa application is a strong indicator
of the immigrant intent. However, we would still have
a conversation with them during the interview and
make an assessment based on that specific interview. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
Does the university I choose affect my
ability to get a visa? CONSULAR OFFICER
SHAW: As long as you have selected a university
that is SEVP-certified and they have
issued you the I-20, that’s the basis of
the student interview. And so we don’t
make a distinction between the English
language program or a community college,
a four-year undergraduate program, or a
higher-level degree, and we don’t make
a determination based on the specific
university or school that you’re applying to. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another question for Kim. Can I change status from a
V visa to an F, M, or J visa once I am in the United States? Additionally can I have
two different kinds of visas at the same time? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: OK. You can have two different
kinds of visa at the same time, and we often see people having
a B1/B2 visa and an F1 visa at the same time. And there’s no
problem with that. If you know you would like to
apply for more than one visa, we encourage you to do
it at the same time. It can be one interview. But there’s no
problem with having a B1/B2 for several
years, and then deciding you’d like to
apply for an F1 visa. As far as the changing
of status in the U.S., as Tandice mentioned
that’s something that is done with
the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. And as I understand, that
process can take a while. And so students
who– or individuals who really want to
study in the U.S., we encourage to apply for an
F1 visa and come to the U.S. with that visa. Otherwise, they would come to
the U.S. With a different visa, and they would need to wait
for that change of status to be approved, and then
apply to the university and get admitted, and
then have the I-20. So we really
encourage individuals who plan to study in the
U.S. to request the F1 visa and travel on that visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another question. Haram asks, if my visa
application is refused, what will happen next? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
This is a great question, and part of that depends
on the individual. It’s their choice. So if we tell the individual
at the end of the interview that their application
has been refused, we would tell them
why it’s been refused, and they would make
their own assessment if they think that they
would be able to demonstrate in another interview
that those issues that were mentioned in the refusal
are no longer relevant. Some people do come
back maybe a month later and apply for a visa again. Some wait quite a while
for their situation to change so that they would be
better qualified for the visa. It’s really an
individual assessment based on the reasons as to
why the visa was refused, and then what that
individual thinks they would be able
to demonstrate at the next opportunity. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another viewer
also wants to know if an F1 visa can be
refused if the applicant has an I-20 and a scholarship. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
It can be refused. These are different processes. So the I-20 is the
proof of the admission to the SEVP-certified school,
and then the scholarship is a selection for a
specific scholarship program. And those are both
really great things, and significant accomplishments. However, the visa application
is a separate process, and that is where
the individual needs to demonstrate that they
are qualified for the visa that they seek. And that’s part of
the conversation that happens in the interview
about their purpose of travel, their program of study, and how
they see this benefiting them in the future. And that’s different
from the acceptance to the university and
the scholarship approval. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Tandice, CJ is asking,
if a prospective student wants to work part
time and take courses, are F, M, and B visas
all options for them? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: No. This is a good question, and it
has a couple of different parts to it. So first of all, I’m not
the expert on the B visa, but I know that
you’re not supposed to work when you have a B visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Or study. PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Or study. Yes. Good point. So under the F visa
and the M visa, there are either training
or work opportunities that may be available to you. And I can tell you about
those in a couple minutes. But the important
thing to remember is that as we’ve all
sort of talked about, when you are demonstrating
your financial ability to pay for your studies in
the United States, that was not supposed to depend
on getting a job later when you get here. It’s supposed to
be finances that will be already available to
you, even if you don’t work. However, you can work or do
training under an F visa. You can work on campus part
time during when school’s in session, or full
time when it’s not, and if a job is available
to you on campus. There are other reasons that you
can apply for off-campus work, such as if something
unexpected happens, and now you’re facing
an economic hardship, a financial hardship that
you weren’t facing before. You can also do what’s
called training, and training is available to
F students and M students. And it’s an on-the-job training
in your field of study. So the real purpose of it is not
just to earn money necessarily, but the real purpose of it is
to get some practical experience in your field of study. And so there are certain
rules that go along with that training, and some
training can be authorized by your DSO, and some
training requires you to apply to USCIS, U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services, and get a
special work permission, work authorization called
the EAD to do that training. So that was just
a brief overview. There are several different
types of work and training that are available. But remember, that’s not your
main purpose for being here. Your main purpose for
being here is to study. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
And definitely in all cases, you need to have that
authorization before you start doing that work. PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Absolutely. That’s so important. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another of our
viewers is asking, must I wear a suit for
the visa interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
This is a good question. You do not need to wear
a suit to the interview. And we understand that
the applicants may already be nervous when they
come to the interview, and we would encourage
you to do some things that could make you more
comfortable or less nervous. And if wearing a suit does
not make you comfortable and might make you
more nervous, we would recommend you
not wear a suit. However, if you feel
comfortable in the suit, you’re perfectly permitted to
come to the interview in it. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Thank you. OK, another question. Can an international student
travel to their home country on vacation on an
F1 visa or not? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Yes. This is really important. You can travel
during your studies. The good times to
travel are when school is on break
or on vacation, or if you’re close enough
to travel on a weekend, but not during when
school is in session. That’s not the best
time to travel. But you want to talk to
your DSO before you travel internationally to make sure
all your documents are in order, and you have the proper
signature on your Form I-20 so that you can come back
in without encountering issues and problems. And also, every F1 student
gets an annual vacation, and it’s usually– most students
take it during the summer time. So you don’t have to
study during the summer. You can travel home or
stay here during that time, and it’s up to you. Anything to add, Kristina? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah, definitely talk to your DSO
at your university before you decide to travel,
and we will sign your documents. Make sure that you
have everything that you need in that case. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
Another important thing is to look at the visa
itself before you do. And so, again,
that’s why you would talk to the designated
school official who might help you with that. But also, take a look yourself. We are issuing these visas based
on the reciprocal agreement we have with the government. And some may be
for a single entry, or the visa may have expired. And in either case, if
you’ve used your entry up, or if your visa has
expired, then you also need to allow time to
apply for the visa again. And again, that’s
where in addition to having the I-20
signed, you might want to make sure you have
some additional documents, just in case the consular
officer asks at the interview. And again, allow time for
that process to occur. So making the appointment
in the country, and then having the interview. PROGRAM ANALYST
GHAJAR: Great points. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another viewer is
asking, if I am subject to the
two-year restrictions due to a previous J1 visa,
can I receive a student visa for my master’s degree after I
have spent two years back home in my home country? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
This is a great question, and that is a
two-year requirement to return back to the country
after a specific J1 program. And once those two years
have been spent back home, then you’re eligible to
apply for another visa and come back to the U.S. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
OK, another question. Some viewers have asked more
about the visa interview. What kinds of questions will
the consular officer ask me during the visa interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
That’s a great question. We want to hear from
you about your plans. So we’re probably going to
ask you about the intended program of study. We may ask you how you
selected the university. And we may ask you more about
the financial information that’s on the I-20. We really want to understand
from the applicant why they are planning
to travel to the U.S., why they wish to
study in the U.S., and then we may ask some
more questions based on the answers they give us. We may have a follow-up question
based on something they ask. But really, we
want to understand, what is their plan when
they go to the U.S.? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: All right. Another question. Which documents does a
prospective international student need to provide to show
financial support at their visa interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
This is a good question. So they definitely need to show
the I-20, which will tell us what the cost is for
the year for the tuition and living expenses
at the school. And then we look at, what
is the program length? And so we would look at,
do they have the money for that first year now? And then we would
also look at how they would be able
to pay for, perhaps, four years or more of study
at that same university. So we would look
at the I-20, and we would see what they’ve told
you, as the designated school official, is the
source of that money. And we would ask them
some questions about that. And we may ask to see
some documents that support what they say. So that might be
some information about the scholarship that
they have been selected for. It may be some bank documents. It all depends on where
their money is coming from. But as you said, they’ve
submitted many documents to you to create the I-20, and
it’s helpful for them to have them with them
at the visa interview just in case we ask for them. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another viewer has a
question about finances. Am I required to show
funding for the duration of the program and not just the
first year at the interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
So you’re required to show us that you
have the money currently to study for the first year. And then beyond that,
you have to show us that you would
have the money when needed for the additional
years of study. We want to make sure that
you’re able to achieve the primary purpose
of your travel, which is to study in the U.S. And as Tandice said, the primary
purpose of travel is to study. There are some work
opportunities in the U.S., but those should
not be used to cover the funding of the program. We really want the students to
be successful in the programs that they’re studying in,
and a big component of that is not having to worry
about the finances. So they don’t have to
have all of the money at the time of the interview
for a four-year program. However, they do have
to be able to show us that they would have the
money for each additional year when the time comes. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah, it’s definitely really important
that a family and a student have a plan for funding
the entire program. What we find is
that on-campus jobs might provide some spending
money, but really not something that substantially
supports the student. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: And
they’re not guaranteed. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: No. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: I
remember from my own time at university,
they’re aren’t enough jobs as there are people. And so there’s no
guarantee that you will be allowed to
work even after you get the authorization. There may not be a job. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: That’s. Right Yeah. It’s important not
to count on it. Yeah. OK, another question. Is a prospective
international student required to show
financial support for the duration of
the program, or only for the first year or
the first semester? So a lot of concerns about
finances, definitely. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: So we
really look at the first year. And so when you come
to the visa interview, we want to make
sure that you really do have the money available now
to pay for that first full year of the program. If it’s a multi-year
program, we’re then going to look
further and make sure that you do have the money
for the additional years. And this is because
we want you to be successful in your program. You’re telling us in
the visa interview why doing this program is going
to benefit you in the future. And we want you to be
successful in the program, and that means being
able to complete it. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Another viewer has lost
the passport in which he has the F1 student visa. Will he need to interview again
in order to get another visa, or would it be possible to
make the new visa application without going to an interview? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW:
This is a great question. So we would look at
the circumstances when they come to
the interview, right? So they should
have the passport, and they should have the
valid I-20 as long as they stay in the U.S. But if
they plan to leave the U.S., they will need to have a
valid visa to come back, and they will need to
have it for their purpose. So if they depart the U.S.
for the summer program, then they would need to
apply for a new visa with us. We want them to
first talk to you to get a 920 that’s
signed for the travel, and then we would want to
talk to them about giving them a new, fully valid visa. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: So there might be a new interview
at the embassy. CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: There
would be a new interview, yes. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON: OK. Our final question
comes from Nia from Bangladesh who asks,
where will I live once I arrive in the United States? Will my DSO decide? PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR:
This is a good question. We can both speak to it maybe. You will decide where
you’re going to live. Some schools require
that you live on campus for the first year
of your program, depending on the school
and the type of program and your education level
that you’re going into. So some schools have
their own process of determining
where you will live. Your DSO won’t decide,
but sometimes you have to ask for your choices
and see what the university can provide to you. And so you need to know
enough about where you’re going to live to know
if you have enough, again, finances to
pay for how much it costs to live at that
school, or in that area, or on that campus. Would you say so, Kristina? ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: Yeah, definitely. And your DSO at
the university will be able to provide
information about what typical cost of living is. Of course, there’s a lot
of variety within that. But what you can expect
would be a cost of living, and also resources about how to
search for housing near campus, or within the town or city that
you’re going to be living in. PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Great. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR THOMPSON:
OK, unfortunately we’re almost out of time. Tandice and Kim, do
you have any parting thoughts for our viewers? CONSULAR OFFICER SHAW: Sure. We just want to remind
you again that we have a lot of information on
the website for the embassy or the consulate where you would
be scheduling your interview, and we also have information
at travel.state.gov. So both of these
websites would give you a lot of information about
the visa application process if you still have questions. PROGRAM ANALYST GHAJAR: Great. And from our side,
it’s important to know that even though the student
visa and international student process can be complicated,
and it can change, you can keep up with
the latest information by following SEVP on
Facebook and Twitter. Follow us at #StudyinStates. And also, if you have
questions or concerns, you can always contact
SEVP by phone or email, which are both listed on
Study in the States as well. ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
THOMPSON: A big thank you to our online
viewers from around the globe for participating and
submitting such great questions. I would also like to thank
Tandice and Kim for joining us today and giving us so much
information about student documentation and the process. Although the on-camera portion
of this program is over, you can continue to
participate in our discussion in the chat space to the right
of the screen where we will continue to field your
questions, and on Twitter by using the hashtag
#EducationUSA. We encourage you to go to the
Study in the States website to review everything
we have just discussed. There you’ll find everything
related to the eight steps to the student visa process. Go to studyinthestates.dhs.gov,
and click on the tab that says Students. And don’t forget to talk to
EducationUSA advisers located in your country. Go to educationusa.state.gov
to find one near you. Good morning, good
afternoon, and good night.

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