My Goal is to study English
on an Intensive or long term basis.
You need an F-1 Student Visa:
(Most RENNERT students enter the U.S. on an F-1 Student Visa)
An F-1 Student Visa is required if:
- You want to study for more than 90 days
- You want to take a full-time course of study for more than 17 hours of class per week
Part 3 - Arrival in the U.S. at the "Port of Entry"
Entering the United States on an F-1 Visa
Once you have received your passport with the F-1 Visa attached, you are ready for travel. Be sure to read and make sure that you understand all of your rights and the restrictions related to F-1 status on page 2 of your I-20 document. By entering the United States on your F-1 Visa you are entering into a contract with the U.S. government and you are agreeing to abide by the rules.
While on the airplane landing in the U.S., you will be given two forms:
This is a white card (when you enter as a tourist it is green) that is your arrival and departure record. This card is very important. Once you have filled it out and signed it, the immigration official will staple it into your passport and will stamp it with the official F-1/DS stamp. It will be your proof that you have entered the country legally as an F-1 student and have a right to stay as long as you keep to the rules in place for F-1 students. You must not remove or lose this form. It will be collected when you leave the U.S.A.
You will fill this form out as per instructions and you will give it to the customs officers AFTER you have passed through immigration and collected your luggage.
At the Airport
Directly as you exit the plane, you will be guided towards customs and Immigration.
- Pay Attention! Some airports have special lines for students.
- Present your passport, I-20, I-94 Card and all other documents, whether they are still in a sealed envelope or not, to the immigration official for inspection.
- The official will staple your I-94 card into your passport and place a stamp on both your I-94 card and your Form I-20. On this stamp the official should write F-1 / DS and may write a number on your Form I-20. This means that you are being admitted as an F-1 Student and the length of your stay is according to the Duration of your Student Status.
* Be sure that you give the officer your I-20 even if they do not ask for it. They may assume you are entering the US as a tourist and this will create problem later.
At this point you will officially be in F-1 Student Status! Make sure to keep your documents safe and clean, and be sure to follow all of the rules to maintain your F-1 Status. As you leave the airport and prepare to begin your studies you are in "Initial Status." Your "status" or "legal classification" will change as you proceed to the school and to your studies In order to help you better understand your "status" as an F-I student, please read the different classifications below.
Part 4 - Maintaining Your F-1 Status
Types of "Status"
- You have received the Form I-20 but have not yet reported to the school.
- At Rennert, you will report on your first day of class by giving us a photocopy of your F-1 Visa, I-94 card and your signed and stamped Form I-20.
- If you do not report to Rennert, your status will be terminated automatically in the government database system known as SEVIS.
- You have reported to the school and presented all important documents.
- Your I-20 should be in Active Status for the majority of your time in the U.S. if you follow the rules listed below in "maintaining your status."
- Your studies in the U.S. are complete. You have returned home or transferred to another school.
- You decided not to attend the school that issued the I-20 Form to you. When an I-20 is in Cancelled Status, it may not be used to obtain an F-1 visa or for entry into the U.S.
Terminated Status Try to avoid this at all costs!
- You have completed your studies at one school but have not yet reported to the school to which you are transferring.
- Students have 60 days from the last class date to transfer before the record goes to completed status.
- Students must report to their new school and begin study by the next available start date after leaving the initial institution.
- You have violated your status as a student and are no longer an F-1 Student and you must leave the U.S. immediately or apply for Reinstatement to F-1 Status.
Maintaining Your F-1 Status
Your F-1 Visa gives you permission to enter the United States and maintaining your status gives you permission to stay here. You are permitted to stay in the U.S as long as you maintain your status for which you must obey the following rules:
- You should read and understand everything on page 2 of your Form I-20, as this is the agreement you signed with the U.S. government and it explains your responsibilities as an F-1 student.
- You are responsible, as our student, to inform us of all changes, updates, (address, names etc.) while you are here. We must, by law, report any changes or violations of status.
- You must attend at least 85% of your classes at all times.
- You must remain enrolled in at least 18 hours of class and cannot drop below full time status.
- You cannot hold a job while in the U.S on a student visa.
Violations of Status
Most violations of status can be avoided by simply speaking to the official student advisor at the school (the person authorized by the government to sign your I-2O) DSO before making any decisions about your course of study. It does not matter whether you violated your status on purpose or by accident; a violation means that your visa will be in Terminated Status.
The most common violations of status are:
1. Failure to enroll
This means that you did not report to the school on the appointed date. This can usually be avoided by speaking to the DSO before your arrival and asking to defer your attendance.
2. Failure to pursue a full course of study
Your attendance in your course is less than 85% (too many absences). This can usually be avoided by keeping track of your attendance and speaking to your DSO before taking time off.
3. Failure to meet deadlines
This means that you did not do something you were supposed to do within the time required. An example of this is not applying for a school transfer within the 60 days allowed. Again, you can avoid this violation by simply speaking to your DSO before making any changes.
4. Working without permission
This is obvious... You are not permitted to work, except under very particular circumstances, on an F-1 Visa. Before you even think about getting a job, speak to your DSO and see if it is permitted.
Reinstatement to F-1 Status
Reinstatement is an application procedure whereby a student who has lost his/her status (by Termination or Completion) asks to be given a second chance at maintaining status. This is not a simple process. It is often a long process and success is by no means guaranteed.
If your status is currently in Terminated or Completed status and you intend to continue your studies in the U.S., you should speak to a DSO immediately.
The content in this section is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Additional information on these topics is available at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services websites.