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The material in this section is extremely important. It tells you about your passport, which visa you will need to enter the United States, and how to apply for each of them in your home country. It also explains the different types of visas and what each visa will and won't allow you to do while you are in the United States. 

The section also discusses the I-94 "Arrival-Departure Record," which will be given to you to fill out on the airplane, before you are allowed to enter the United States, and the l-20 A-B or I-20 M-N, or lAP-66 "Certificate of Eligibility," which will be stapled to your passport and given to you once you enter the country.


Your passport is a permit issued by your government, identifying you as a citizen, and allowing you to re-enter your country. In place of a passport, some students hold a "Certificate of Identity" (often called a "CI"), which is roughly equivalent to a passport.

To obtain a passport, go to the office of the appropriate ministry in your country. If you can, telephone first to ask what kinds of documents, photographs and information you will need to bring with you. In addition to a passport, some countries also require an exit visa or a re-entry permit. Ask whether one is necessary.

Passports are issued for a specific period of time. You may renew your passport at your country's embassy in Washington, D.C. or at its various consulates in the United States. 

The U.S. government requires that holders of F-1 , J-1 or M-1 visas keep their passports valid for at least six months into the future. If your passport will expire any time during your intended stay in the United States, you will have to extend it at the appropriate time. If an extension is necessary, make application several months before the date of expiration of your passport.


Your passport can be extended only by your home-country government. If you must renew or extend your passport while-you are in the United States, write, telephone or visit your nearest home country consulate or embassy and ask about forms (Fees if any,) and procedures. 

You may also renew your passport when you are home for a visit. If youæ are-required to supply a letter confirming your student status, ask for one at the registrar's office or the International Student Services Office at your chosen college or university.

After you arrive in the United States, be sure to register your passport at your country's nearest consulate or at the embassy in Washington, D.C. This assures that your passport is on record at the embassy - and it will be easier to replace - in case your passport is lost or stolen. If you need help or advice on registering your passport, consult-the Foreign Student Adviser.


Along with your passport, to be eligible for entry into the United States, you must also apply for and obtain the correct U.S. nonimmigrant visa. A visa is not a guarantee that you will be permitted to enter the United States. Actual permission to enter the country is granted only at the point of entry by an immigration inspector.

To apply for a non-immigrant visa, you must go to the U.S. embassy or a U.S. consulate in your country. When filling out the visa application, be sure to print your name and address in black ink. Write your name exactly as it appears in your passport. Be sure that all information is accurate and that your name is spelled correctly.

The visa is stamped into your passport by a consular officer of the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. It notes the last date you can enter the United States and how many entries you will be allowed. It does not indicate how long you will be permitted to stay; this is determined by the INS official who examines your passport at your point of entry and actually issues the permission for you to enter the country.

The visa also states the type of visa you hold. An F-1 visa is for students who have been accepted for full-time study, in academic or language programs; a J-I visa is for exchange visitors who may also be students; an M-I visa is for students who have been accepted For Full-time study in vocational or other recognized non-academic programs. F-2, J-2 and M-2 visas are for spouses and accompanying dependents of students and exchange visitors. The different visas are described below.

When your visa expires you must apply for a new nonimmigrant visa to re-enter the United States. Because a visa is only a permit to apply for entry into a country, it is not possible to obtain a U.S. visa while you are in the United States. 

To re-apply for a visa, you must go to a U.S. consulate or embassy in a country other than the United States. (You may also renew your visa when you are home for a visit.) There is however, one exception. If the visa has expired but you plan to go only to Canada, Mexico or one of the Caribbean islands (other than Cuba), it will not be necessary to apply for a new visa to re-enter the United States as long as your trip is less than 30 days in length. 

You should, however, always discuss your travel plans with the Foreign Student Adviser before you leave the United States.

Special Points to Keep In Mind Regarding Visa Applications

The I-20 and IAP-66 forms are not visas; they are visa petitions that state your eligibility to apply for the non-immigrant student visa status. Likewise, a visa is not permission to enter the United States or to stay there for a period of time; it is permission to apply to officials of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the border where you plan to enter the United States, who then decide whether to grant you permission to enter, and who specify the allowable period of your stay.

INS requirements state that an applicant for any type of student visa must show that sufficient funds are available co cover all expenses during the entire period of anticipated stay in the United States.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Foreign students must have adequate financial resources, because they cannot seek or accept unauthorized employment during their stay in the United States.

U.S. visa regulations state that the U.S. Consular Officer :

· Must require specific documentary evidence that the applicant has sufficient Funds currently available to provide all expenses For the First yearf study;
· Must be satisfied that adequate funds will be available each continuing year from the same or another financially reliable source; 
Must deny the visa application if the applicant cannot show funds currently available for at least the amount of one year's expenses (as listed on the Form I-20 or IAP-66). These funds must be immediately available in the Form of bank deposits or other similarly liquid assets. (It is up to the student to show that these Funds are indeed available and are not borrowed from a bank, cooperative, relative or friend intended merely to satisfy legal requirements. 

Consequently the U.S. consular officer is obliged to inquire into the origin or the funds and the applicant must be prepared to prove personal ownership of them.

The applicant must also be able to show that his Funds or the annual income of his Family makes it reasonable to believe that there will continue to be Funds available for each successive year of study. This can best be shown by the following:

· Original Inland Revenue receipts or copies of income tax returns showing the annual income of the applicant parents or sponsor for the last three years;
· Original bank statements savings books, current accounts time deposits or fixed-deposit certificates. Gold deposit certificates and the like may be presented if the applicant has receipts showing that the funds represented are available for personal use; and
· Photocopies of all financial documents.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Applicants with full financial assistance (for example, scholarships, Fellowships or assistantships) from a recognized academic institution or authority need not present additional evidence of support.

Sponsorship by persons other than immediate Family members will be considered with the following factors in mind:

· The term of the obligation. The sponsor must understand that the obligation lasts throughout the student's stay in the United States.
· The financial status of the sponsor.
· The willingness of the sponsor to honor the commitment. If the sponsor is a close relative - a parent, brother or sister, for example - the commitment is considered stronger. The consular officer must determine the reasons behind an offer of sponsorship and why the sponsorship is likely to be honored.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The visa application may be denied if the applicant fails to show that the sponsorshìip offer is made without the full and honest expectation that the offer will be honored.

Factors That Can Affect Visa Status

F-1, J-1 and M-l visa holders must maintain the non-immigrant status in which they were admitted to the United States or were granted after arriving. They must also observe certain immigration requirements and obey immigration laws and regulations. Failure to do so may result in deportation.

"Some foreign students fear that if they are convicted - or even accused - of a violation of any law they will be deported immediately and automatically," writes Eugene Smith in the Asian Student Orientation Handbook. "That is not true in most cases conviction of a single misdemeanor or minor offense will have no effect on a student's immigration status." However, foreign students may be subject to deportation for serious crimes, foviolations of narcotics laws and for flagrant disregard of immigration regulations.

Foreign students who seriously violate the rules of the educational institution they are attending may be suspended or dismissed from that institution, thereby losing their student status. 

Therefore, although a foreign student cannot be deported for disobeying university rules, the possible resulting loss of student status might lead to the loss of visa status, and thus deportation. Similarly, if a sponsored student violates the regulations of the sponsoring agency, the agency might withdraw visa sponsorship, thereby putting the student in jeopardy.

Maintaining Visa Status

Listed below are the main things you must do to maintain your visa status while you are in the United States. More information is provided for each individual type of visa on the pages that follow.

· Keep your passport valid for at least six months into the future. In the United States your passport will be considered invalid six months before the expiration date noted in the passport. Since it sometimes takes several months to obtain an extension, you must be alert to this requirement.
· Maintain your "full-time student status" by taking at least the minimum number of units or credits of course work during each term of the regular academic year. Attendance at summer sessions is not required to fulfill full-time student status.
· If you move from one place of residence to another, report your new address to the INS within 10 days after you change it. (You are not required to report your First address.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The United States has agreements with at least 92 nations to recognize the validity of the passport "six months beyond the expiration date of the passport." While this does not relieve students from those countries of the responsibility to maintain the validity of their passports, it does allow more time to renew them if it is necessary to do so. Check with the Foreign Student Adviser to see if your country has such an agreement with the United States.

· Always check with the Foreign Student Adviser before making any, arrangements to work off campus or to undertake practical training as part of your degree or after you complete your degree.
· Pay your income tax. Generally all foreign students and scholars are required to File informational tax returns with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) whether or not they earned any U.S. income. Above a certain level of income, everyone (except those specifically exempted by treaty) is requCired to pay income tax.
· Do not take even a brief trip outside the United States without first being absolutely certain that all your travel documents are in order. It is a good idea to check with the International Student Services Office each time you plan to leave the country.
· Any and all changes in academic objectives, particularly those involving a transfer to another school should be discussed with the Foreign Student Adviser. 
· If you anticipate difficulty in completing your degree in the time written on your Form I-20 or IAP-66; if you wish to do practical training; or if you wish to remain in the United States for further study or activity after you complete your first academic objective, (for example, after you have received your bachelor's degree), you should consult with your Foreign Student Adviser when you are making your plans.
· Give truthful answers to any questions an INS officer might ask you about your current student status or other matters. Lying to an INS ficer about your immigration status is grounds for deportation.

The F-1 (Academic Student) Visa

The J-1 (Exchange Visitor) Visa

The M-1 (Vocational School Student) Visa

The F-2, J-2, and M-2 Visa

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