• We bring you SMALL mistakes which can have BIG consequences

     

    Having sex with under age

    In US legal adult age is typically 18. What defines a legal adult is ability to legally work, participate in contracts, vote, marry, give sexual consent, and join the military. Always remember to avoid engaging in sexual activities with underage. If caught, you can end up in jail, thrown out of college or even get deported. Stay out of trouble and enjoy your stay in America. And always remember to have safe sex with adults.

    Drinking in public

    21 is the recognized legal drinking age across the United States. Drinking in public is against the law in United States. However states like Nevada, Louisiana and Missouri allow drinking in public. Alcohol laws definitely vary by state, and a lot of times vary by city and county. Misdemeanor is punishable up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.00. Remember carrying open containers of alcohol in public or while driving is prohibited too.

    Drugs

    There has always been drug problem in American society. Drugs like marijuana and ecstasy are prevalent in colleges throughout America. International students who are new to U.S. tend to get involved in drug activities. Year 2011 statistics have shown that Over 80% of teens engage in some form of deviant behavior, Over 50% of high-school seniors admit to having used drugs and10%-15% of the population develop drug addiction problems related to their drug use. It is strongly advisable for international students to refrain from any illicit drug use and stay away from friends who do drugs. Keep in mind that your main purpose to enter United States was to study and establish a career.

    Driving car without registration or license

    Driving without a license under Vehicle Code section 12500 is a crime in and of itself. Driving on a revoked or suspended license is a more serious offense e.g. Driving without a valid driver’s license in California can lead to
    • Informal (otherwise known as “summary”) probation for up to three years
    • Up to six months in the county jail
    • A maximum $1,000 fine
    • A possible 30-day impound of your car You obviously don’t have a license for a reason, either you’re too young or can’t drive. Either way you were doing something wrong for the cop to pull you over.

    J walking

    Jay walking means crossing in the middle of the street instead of using crosswalks and stoplights. In California, usual fine for an adult for jaywalking is about $108. By J walking you are not only putting yourself in danger but will also cause nuisance for the driver. Be responsible and use crosswalks.

    Racial discrimination

    It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s race or color. No matter how angry you get on a person never racially abuse someone. Treat others like you want to be treated.

    Drinking and Driving

    Unless your incident involved harm to persons or property, first time DUI’s are not generally deportable offenses.

    Traveling without proper documents

    When traveling within U.S avoid carrying your passport, SSN or other important documents. Instead get a identification card or diver's license made from your local DMV. That will act as your proof of identity. When travelling outside U.S. or visiting your home country, make sure you have valid i-20, valid passport( passport should have atlas 6 months to expire) and other supporting documents. Lots of students make a mistake when they travel outside U.S without taking new i-20 from international office at their school.

    Note: Studentpickup advises all international students to get their identification card made at the local DMV office and not wait till they get their drivers license. Identification card comes in handy when one travels domestically, going to clubs or buying alcohol. You don't have to carry the passport and avoid the risk of loosing it. Identification card fee is $26 in state of California.

    Prank Calls

    Don’t get too excited after seeing youtube video of young guys prank calling store owners or government agencies. In the US, prank phone calls can be illegal. The law varies from state to state and the penalty can be as high as prison time.

    Fighting

    Lots of students get into fights at a bar or club under influence of alcohol. Last thing you want is to get arrested over a fight. Confrontation with the law can hinder your job search and career growth in U.S.

    Etiquette

    Social etiquette is very important to avoid being socially outcast. Here are some things to keep in mind:

    Meeting and Greeting

    • Greetings are casual.
    • A handshake, a smile, and a 'hello' are all that is needed.
    • Smile
    • Use first names, and be sure to introduce everyone to each other.

    Gift Giving Etiquette

    • In general, Americans give gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and major holidays, such as Christmas.
    • A gift can be as simple as a card and personal note to something more elaborate for a person with whom you are close.
    • Gift giving is not an elaborate event, except at Christmas.
    • When invited to someone's home for dinner, it is polite to bring a small box of good chocolates, a bottle of wine, a potted plant or flowers for the hostess.
    • Gifts are normally opened when received.

    Dining Etiquette

    • Americans socialize in their homes and ‘backyards’, in restaurants and in other public places.
    • It's not at all unusual for social events to be as casual as a backyard barbecue or a picnic in the park.
    • Arrive on time if invited for dinner; no more than 10 minutes later than invited to a small gathering. If it is a large party, it is acceptable to arrive up to 30 minutes later than invited.
    • Table manners are more relaxed in the U.S. than in many other countries.
    • The fork is held in the right hand and is used for eating. The fork is held tines down. The knife is used to cut or spread something. To use the knife, the fork is switched to the left hand. To continue eating, the fork is switched back to the right hand.
    • If you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork on your plate with the fork over the knife. Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate.
    • If you are more comfortable eating in the Continental manner, go ahead. It will not offend anyone.
    • Feel free to refuse specific foods or drinks without offering an explanation.
    • Many foods are eaten by hand.
    • Food is often served family-style, which means that it is in large serving dishes and passed around the table for everyone to serve themselves.
    • Do not begin eating until the hostess starts or says to begin.
    • Remain standing until invited to sit down.
    • Do not rest your elbows on the table.
    • Put your napkin in your lap as soon as you sit down.
    • Leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.
    • Tip the waiter
    Source: kwintessential

    My country is the best

    It’s good to be patriotic but Jingoism is not good. In order to mix up with people in a foreign country, you have to accept their values and culture. Learn good things about their culture and teach them something cool about yours.

  • Culture shock is a term used to describe the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within an entirely different cultural or social environment, such as a foreign country …

    All About the Shock

    Coping with Culture Shock

    The most effective way to combat culture shock is to step back from a given event that has bothered you, assess it, and search for an appropriate explanation and response. Try the following: observe how others are acting in the same situation describe the situation, what it means to you, and your response to it ask a local resident or someone with extensive experience how they would have handled the situation and what it means in the host culture plan how you might act in this or similar situations in the future test the new behavior and evaluate how well it works decide how you can apply what you have learned the next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

    Throughout the period of cultural adaptation, take good care of yourself. Read a book or rent a video in your home language, take a short trip if possible, exercise and get plenty of rest, write a letter or telephone home, eat good food, and do things you enjoy with friends. Take special notice of things you enjoy about living in the host culture.

    Although it can be disconcerting and a little scary, the shock gradually eases as you begin to understand the new culture. It is useful to realize that often the reactions and perceptions of others toward you—and you toward them—are not personal evaluations but are based on a clash of cultural values. The more skilled you become in recognizing how and when cultural values and behaviors are likely to come in conflict, the easier it becomes to make adjustments that can help you avoid serious difficulties.

    Will I Lose My Own Culture?

    Sometimes students worry about losing their culture if they become too well adapted to the host culture. Don’t worry: it is virtually impossible to lose the culture in which you were raised. In fact, learning about the new culture often increases your appreciation for and understanding of your own culture. Don’t resist the opportunity to become bi cultural, able to function competently in two cultural environments.

    Just as culture shock derives from the accumulation of cultural clashes, so an accumulation of small successes can lead to more effective interactions within the new culture. As you increase your abilities to manage and understand the new social system, practices that recently seemed so strange will become less puzzling. Eventually you will adapt sufficiently to do your best in your studies and social life and to relax and fully enjoy the experience. And you will recover your sense of humor!

    Prepare for Reverse Culture Shock

    Few people anticipate that upon their return home they will experience culture shock as they did when they first came to the United States. Reverse culture shock is most pronounced in those who expect everything at home to be the same as it was when they left it. Realize that standards of living, the political climate, and even family relationships may have changed. You have grown during your years in the United States and your friends and family have grown, too! Friends may have married or moved away. You may feel ill at ease with what once were familiar circumstances and may experience subtle forms of rejection if family and friends show less interest in your adventures than you had hoped they would. The solution, find other returned students with whom to share concerns and coping strategies. Participate in your university’s alumni association.

    Let awareness be your ally. To the extent you anticipate the strains of reentry, the better you can minimize their impact and severity. And take heart: You can use the same skills that helped you adapt to the United States. While here, take photographs, keep a journal, and update your address book to maintain memories and contacts when you return home.

    Take advantage of the many career development opportunities available to you during your studies. Above all, do not wait until your last year in the United States to begin planning your career.

    American Myths and Reality

    Life is easy in United States

    While it is true that the material standard of living in the United States is high, this has not resulted in a leisurely pace of life. Visitors to the United States are often surprised at how hard most Americans work, at their long work hours and short vacations, and at the fast pace of American life in general. Even leisure time is often devoted to activities such as sports, exercise, or other hobbies that involve intense activity and effort. Many Americans are uncomfortable with true leisure and feel guilty about doing nothing or spending long periods of time relaxing or talking with friends.

    America is “the land of the free” so I can do whatever I want there

    Individual freedom is an important American value, but newcomers may find themselves overwhelmed by the legal and bureaucratic restrictions on their activities and confused by the complexities of social interaction.

    The rules of social behavior in the United States can be equally confusing. There is a strong dose of Puritanism mixed in with generally laissez-faire American attitude, which makes it difficult to predict how people will behave or react to others’ which means that values may differ widely from one social group to another and from one individual to another. Sometimes it may seem that no rules apply and that “anything goes”, but a newcomer should be wary of making assumptions about what is acceptable, especially in the area of sexual relations.

    Americans are racist/Americans are tolerant

    Racial and ethnic prejudice in unfortunately a reality in the United States and occasionally a foreign student experiences hostility, even violence, of this nature. It would be wise to be aware of the tensions that may exist in the communities you visit in the united States, but do not fear that this will be a common or frequent problem. Pay attention to the news, listen to the advice of friends, and perhaps take a class on race relations in the United States. This is a complex issue that reflects many of the paradoxes of American history.Be aware also that you may have been influenced by racial stereotyping in American films. Visitors to the United States are sometimes surprised to find that the African-Americans they meet in the United States have nothing in common with the violent stereotype so often projected in the movies.

    The United States has a classless society

    Although the United States does not have a history or tradition of rigidly defined social classes, distinctions among economic classes in the United States result in de facto social stratification. Although the majority of Americans can be considered to belong to the middle class, there is a small, wealthy upper class and a growing underclass. Still, the American ideal of equal educational opportunity and the belief that hard work and ability should be rewarded make for a society in which upward mobility is still common.

    American students are less prepared academically than students from my country, and I will not have to work very hard in class.

    Some American students are less prepared academically than others. While it may be tempting to think that you will not have much competition in the classroom, rest assured that there are many, many academically prepared and highly competitive American students. Do not underestimate the effect a change in language or a change in classroom style can have on your performance. In general, American students have a lot of experience in test taking and at expressing their opinions in class. You may come from an academic system that does not emphasize those skills.

    American professors are casual, sometimes even asking students to address them by their first names

    It is true that your American professors may ask you to address them by their first names, but this does not mean they do not expect your respect. The ways in which courtesy and respect are shown to an American professor may well differ from how they are expressed in your country. Respect in a U.S. classroom includes a willingness to participate in class debate and to ask questions when you do not understand something that has been said. Spend time watching how your American classmates interact with the professors. You will catch on quickly to the unique mix of formality and structure.

    American students use illegal drugs

    Some do, most do not.

    American Values

    Personal Control over the Environment

    People can/should control nature, their own environment and destiny; future is not left to fate.

    Change/Mobility

    Change is seen as positive, good, meaning progress, improvement and growth.

    Time and Its Control

    Time is valuable-achievement of goals depends on productive use of time

    Equality/Egalitarianism

    People have equal opportunities; people are important as individuals, for who they are, not from which family they come.

    Self-Help

    Americans take pride in own accomplishments, not in name.

    Competition and Free Enterprise

    Americans believe competition brings out the best in people and free enterprise produces most progress and success.

    Future Orientation/Optimism

    Americans believe that, regardless of past or present, the future will be better, happier.

    Action and Work Orientation

    Americans believe that work is morally right; that it is immoral to waste time.

    Informality

    Americans believe that formality is a show of arrogance and superiority.

    Directness, Openness, Honesty

    One can only trust people who “look you in the eye” and “tell it like it is.” Truth is a function of reality not circumstance. “Assertiveness Training”.

    Practicality/Efficiency

    Practicality is usually most important consideration when decisions are to be made.

    Materialism/Acquisitiveness

    Material goods are seen as the just rewards of hard-evidence of “Gods Favor”.

  • Student and Exchange Visitors

    There are three major types of student visas: F, J, M.

    F Visa (Academic Studies): For students who want to study or conduct research at an accredited U.S. college or University.

    J Visa (Academic studies as an Exchange Visitor): For students who will be participating in an educational or cultural exchange program in U.S.

    M Visa (Non-Academic or vocational Studies): For students who want to study or train at a non-academic institution in the U.S.

    NOTE: The information below has been taken from U.S. Department of State.

    General Visa FAQs

    What types of visas are available for people to come to the United States?

    There are more than 20 non immigrant visa types for people traveling to the United States temporarily. There are many more types of immigrant visas for those coming to live permanently in the United States. The type of Visa you need is determined by the purpose of your intended travel. For an overview of visa types, please see Types of Visas for Temporary Visitors or Visa Types for Immigrants.

    How do I read and understand my visa?

    Please use the illustrated guide below to learn how to read your new non immigrant visa (for travel to the U.S. as a temporary visitor). In addition, as soon as you receive it, check to make sure information printed on the visa is correct (see below). If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is incorrect, please contact the non immigrant visa section at the embassy or consulate that issued your visa.
    visa

    After I have my visa, I will be able to enter the U.S., correct?

    A visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry, and the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission to the United States. See Admissions on the CBP website.

    I have a non immigrant visa that will expire soon and I would like to renew it. Do I need go through the whole visa application process again?

    Yes, you will have to go through the whole visa application process each time you want to apply for a visa, even if your visa is still valid. There are some situations where a visa applicant may not need to be interviewed when renewing his/her visa. See the U.S. Embassy website for more information.

    How do I know whether to contact the Department of State or Department of Homeland Security about my issue?

    Contact the Department of State, U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad with questions about U.S. visas, including application, the status of visa processing, and for inquiries relating to visa denial. Once in the United States, the traveler falls under the jurisdiction of Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is responsible for the approval of all petitions, the authorization of permission to work in the U.S., the issuance of extensions of stay, and change or adjustment of an applicant’s status while the applicant is in the U.S. See Other Government Information below to learn more.

    My visa expires in 5 years, what does this mean?

    A visa must be valid at the time a traveler seeks admission to the U.S., but the expiration date of the visa (validity period/length of time the visa can be used) has no relation to the length of time a temporary visitor may be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to remain in the United States. Persons holding visas valid for multiple entries may make repeated trips to the U.S., for travel for the same purpose, as long as the visa has not expired, and the traveler has done nothing to become ineligible to enter the U.S., at port of entry.

    My old passport has already expired. My visa to travel to the United States is still valid but in my expired passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?

    No. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports, as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. (Example: tourist visa, when your principal purpose of travel is tourism). Both passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country and type (Example: both Uruguayan regular passports, both official passports, etc.). When you arrive at the United States port of entry (POE) the Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer will check your visa in the old passport and if s/he decides to admit you into the United States they will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation “VIOPP” (visa in other passport). Do not try to remove the visa from your old passport and stick it into the new valid passport. If you do so, your visa will no longer be valid.

    I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States, what should I do?

    If you failed to turn in your I-94 Departure Records, see Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website for more information. No. If the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer at the port of entry (generally an airport) admitted you into the United States for a specific period of time, s/he will note your authorized period of stay on your I-94 card, called an Arrival Departure Record. You will be able to remain in the United States during your authorized period of stay, even if your visa expires during the time you are in the United States. Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay and is the official record of your permission to be in the U.S., it is very important to keep inside your passport.

    My passport with my visa was stolen, what should I do?

    If your passport with your I-94 are lost or stolen, you must get them replaced immediately. There are a number of steps you need to take, learn more, see Lost and Stolen Passports, Visas, and Form I-94s.

    What are indefinite validity visas (Burroughs visas) and are they still valid?

    Indefinite validity visas (Burroughs Visas) are tourist/business visas manually stamped into a traveler’s passport which were valid for ten years. Effective April 1, 2004, all indefinite validity Burroughs visas became void. Therefore, if you have an indefinite validity visa you must apply for a new visa for travel to the U.S.

    I hold an Iraqi S series passport; can I travel to the U.S. with this passport?

    If you hold an Iraqi “S” series passport, effective January 8, 2007, the “S” series passports became no longer valid for travel to the U.S. due to its failure to meet international security standards. Holders of the “S” series passport cannot apply for a U.S. visa, and Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection will not admit travelers on U.S. visas issued in “S” series passports. Travelers with existing valid U.S. visas in the “S” series passports must obtain a new visa as well as a new passport. In order to apply for a U.S. visa and travel to the U.S., Iraqi citizens must have a “G” series passport. The “G” series Iraqi passport has effective security features and can be used for visas or travel to the U.S. See U.S. Embassy Amman’s website for more information about obtaining a “G” series passport, as well as information about certain immigrant special cases and refugees who may not need a passport to travel to the U.S.

    Can an Iraqi M or N series passport holder travel to the U.S. with this passport?

    If you hold an Iraqi “M” or “N” series passport, effective January 2007, both the “M” and “N” series passports are no longer valid for travel to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection will not admit travelers on “M” or “N” series passports. If you have a valid U.S. visa in the “M” or “N” series passport, you will need to obtain a new “G” series passport, but need not obtain a new U.S. visa.

    I may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. Can I apply for a U.S. visa?

    I may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. Can I apply for a U.S. visa?

    I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?

    All U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using his/her U.S. passport.

    I would like to know if my friend has applied for a visa and what the status is. Who should I contact?

    Your friend, the visa applicant. Under U.S. law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 222(f), visa records are confidential. Therefore, the visa applicant should inquire at the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad where he/she applied regarding necessary information about visa application status. Because of confidentiality of visa records, you’ll need to ask your friend, the visa applicant your questions about whether a visa application was made, or a visa was issued or denied.

    What is Administrative Processing?

    Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview.

    My visa application has been refused. Why can't I get my money back?

    The fee that you paid is an application fee. Everyone who applies for a U.S. visa anywhere in the world must pay this fee, which covers the cost of processing your application. As the application form states, this fee is non-refundable regardless of whether you are issued a visa or not, since your application was processed to conclusion. As one example, if your application was refused under Section 214(b) and you choose to reapply for a visa, whether at this Embassy or elsewhere, you will be required to pay the visa application processing fee. See the Fees for Visa Services page for a list of fees.

    Student Visa FAQs

    Overview

    For student related information, visit the Education USA website created by the Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to learn about educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study, opportunities for scholars, financial aid, testing, admissions, and much more. For a brief overview, visit the America.gov article Basics on U.S. Visas. The first step for a prospective non immigrant student is being accepted for enrollment in an established school which is SEVP certified. In general, for academic students attending a university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory or other academic institutions, including a language training program, an F visa is the appropriate category. For students attending vocational or other recognized nonacademic institutions, other than a language training program, an M visa is generally the appropriate category. If you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism, but want to take a short course of study that is recreational, and the course is less than 18 hours per week, you may be able to do soon a visitor (B) visa. If your course of study is 18 hours or more a week, you will need a student visa. When traveling to the U.S. to attend seminars, conferences or a program of study for academic credit then you will need a student visa.

    When Do I Need to Apply for my Student Visa?

    • Students are encouraged to apply for their visa early to provide ample time for visa processing. Students may apply for their visa as soon as they are prepared to do so.
    • Students should note that Embassies and Consulates are able to issue your student visa 120 days or less, in advance of the course of study registration date. If you apply for your visa more than 120 days prior to your start date or registration date as provided on the Form I-20, the Embassy or Consulate will hold your application until it is able to issue the visa. Consular officials will use that extra time for application processing.
    • Students are advised of the Department of Homeland Security regulation which requires that all initial or beginning students enter the U.S. 30 days or less in advance of the course of study start/report date as shown on the Form I-20. Please consider this date carefully when making travel plans to the U.S.
    • A beginning student who wants an earlier entry into the U.S. (more than 30 days prior to the course start date), must qualify for, and obtain a visitor visa. A prospective student notation will be shown on his/her visitor visa and the traveler will need to make the intent to study clear to the U.S. immigration inspector at port of entry. Before beginning any studies, he or she must obtain approval for a change to Exchange Visitor status, filing Form I-539, Application for Change of Non immigrant Status and pay the fee. Also you must submit the required Form I-20 to the Department of Homeland Security office where the application is made. Please be aware that one cannot begin studies until the change of classification is approved.
    • Continuing students may apply for a new visa at any time, as long as they have been maintaining student status and their SEVIS records are current. Continuing students may also enter the U.S. at any time before their classes start.

    What are SEVIS and SEVP? What Should you Know About it?

    The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State better monitor school and exchange programs and F, M and J category visitors. Exchange visitor and student information is maintained in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). SEVIS is an Internet-based system that maintains accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa), exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2). SEVIS enables schools and program sponsors to transmit mandatory information and event notifications via the Internet, to the DHS and Department of State (DOS) throughout a student or exchange visitor's stay in the United States. Select SEVIS to go to the DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Internet site and learn more.

    All student applicants must have a SEVIS generated I-20 issued by an educational institution approved by DHS, which they submit when they are applying for their student visa. Your school is responsible for entering your information for the I-20 student visa form into SEVIS. The consular officer will need to verify your I-20 record electronically through the SEVIS system in order to process your student visa application. Unless otherwise exempt, all F-1 or M-1 principal applicants must pay a SEVIS I-901 fee to the DHS for each individual program. See the SEVP Fact Sheet for a fee list. See SEVIS-901 Fee for further information on how to pay the fee.

    Qualifying for a Student Visa

    The Immigration and National Act is very specific with regard to the requirements which must be met by applicants to qualify for the student visa. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet student visa requirements including:
    • Have a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence;
    • Intend to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
    • Possess sufficient funds to pursue the proposed course of study.

    Applying for a Student Visa

    As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. Learn how to schedule an appointment for an interview, pay the application processing fee, review embassy specific instructions, and much more by visiting the Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply. During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Also, because each student’s personal and academic situation is different, two students applying for same visa may be asked different questions and be required to submit different additional documents.

    Required Documentation

    Each applicant for a student visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below:
    Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students or Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students. You will need to submit a SEVIS generated Form, I-20, which was provided to you by your school.You and your school official must sign the I-20 form. See the previous section for SEVIS information.
    Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit our DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.
    A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must complete an application.
    One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements;
    • A MRV fee receipt to show payment of the visa application fee.
    • The SEVIS I-901 fee receipt.
    • Transcripts and diplomas from previous institutions attended.
    • Scores from standardized tests required by the educational institution such as the TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
    • Financial evidence that shows you or your parents who are sponsoring you has sufficient funds to cover your tuition and living expenses during the period of your intended study. For example, if you or your sponsor is a salaried employee, please bring income tax documents and original bank books and/or statements. If you or your sponsor owns a business, please bring business registration, licenses, etc., and tax documents, as well as original bank books and/or statements.

    What are the Required Visa Fees?

    Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – For current fees for Department of State government services select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
    Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is. If there is a fee for issuance for the visa, it is equal as nearly as possible to the fee charged to United States citizens by the applicant’s country of nationality.

    Spouses and Children

    Applicants with dependents must also provide:
    • Proof of the student’s relationship to his/her spouse and/or children (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.
    • It is preferred that families apply for F-1 and F-2 visas at the same time, but if the spouse and children must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

    Additional Information

    • No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of non refundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
    • Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

    Entering the U.S.- Port of Entry

    A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. Student visitors must have their Form I-20 in their possession each time they enter the United States. In advance of travel, students should review important information about Admissions/Entry requirements, as well as information related to restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products or other restricted/prohibited goods explained on the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website. Upon arrival (at an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), you will be enrolled in the US-VISIT entry-exit program. If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the U.S., it’s very important to keep in your passport.

    Staying Beyond Your Authorized Stay in the U.S. and Being Out of Status

    • It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S. on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94. Information on successfully maintaining your immigration status while a student or exchange visitor can be found on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) website.
    • Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the DHS causes you to be out-of-status in the United States, which is a violation of U.S. immigration laws. This may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the U.S. Select Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas to learn more.
    • Staying unlawfully in the United States beyond the date Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authorized, even by one day, results in your visa being automatically voided, in accordance with immigration law, INA 222(g). In this situation, you are required to reapply for a new non immigrant visa, generally in your country of nationality.

    What Items Do Returning Students Need?

    All applicants applying for renewals must submit:
    • All items listed in the Required Documentation section and;
    • A new I-20 or an I-20 that has been endorsed on the back by a school official within the past 12 months.

    Students Away from Classes for More Than Five Months

    Students in or outside the U.S., who have been away from classes for more than five months, will likely need a new visa to enter the U.S.

    How Long May I Stay on my F-1 Student Visa?

    When you enter the United States on a student visa, you will usually be admitted for the duration of your student status. That means you may stay as long as you are a full time student, even if the F-1 visa in your passport expires while you are in the United States. For a student who has completed the course of studies shown on the I-20, and any authorized practical training, the student is allowed the following additional time in the U.S. before departure:
    • F-1 student – An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.
    • M-1 student – An additional 30 days to depart the U.S. (Fixed time period, in total not to exceed one year). The 30 days to prepare for departure is permitted as long as the student maintained a full course of study and maintained status. An M student may receive extensions up to three years for the total program.
    As an example regarding duration of status, if you have a visa that is valid for five years that will expire on January 1, 2009, and you are admitted into the U.S. for the duration of your studies (often abbreviated in your passport or on your I-94 card as “D/S”), you may stay in the U.S. as long as you are a full time student. Even if January 1, 2009 passes and your visa expires while in the U.S., you will still be in legal student status. However, if you depart the United States with an expired visa, you will need to obtain a new one, applying at an Embassy abroad, before being able to return to the U.S. and resume your studies.

    Optional Practical Training

    Students who are authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have an I-20 endorsed for OPT, and provide a USCIS-issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD). When authorized, Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to the eligible F-1 student’s area of study. To learn more about OPT, please visit the USCIS Website and the ICE international Students webpage.

    Attending Public Secondary School

    There are certain restrictions on student F-1 visa holders attending public school in the U.S. See our Foreign Students in Public Schools webpage to learn more.

    How Do I Extend My Stay?

    Visitors who wish to stay beyond the date indicated on their Form I-94 are required to have approval by USCIS. See Extend Your Stay on the USCIS website.

    How Do I Change My Status?

    Some nonimmigrant visa holders, while present in the U.S., are able to file a request which must be approved by USCIS to change to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website. Important Note: Filing a request with USCIS for approval of change of status before your authorized stay expires, while you remain in the U.S., does not by itself require the visa holder to apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the U.S. while USCIS processes your change of status request, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

    Further Visa Inquiries

    • Questions on visa application procedures and visa ineligibility should be made to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad by the applicant. Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this web site and also the Embassy website abroad. Very often you will find the information you need.
    • If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information by selecting U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
    • If you have additional inquiries about F or M student visas/J-1 exchange visitor visas, please email our Student/Exchange Visitor Visa Center at: fmjvisas@state.gov.

  • ESL or EFL Students

    Students studying English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) refer to website manythings.org. There are quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer assisted language learning activities. This site is non-commercial and has no advertising.

    Bibliography Maker

    Students writing research papers refer to zotero.org, mendeley.com and bibme.org. These tools will help you cite your research sources.