Congratulations on your acceptance for study at Notre Dame of Maryland University. If you have any questions about obtaining an F-1 visa or about your legal responsibilities to maintain F-1 status, please ask for further information at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or contact Valeria Smith, International Student Advisor and Immigration Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about the legal responsibilities and benefits of F-1 status (such as those regarding travel abroad and employment within the U.S.) will be provided at International Student Orientation.
As of September 1, 2004 the Department of Homeland Security began collecting a SEVIS fee for all foreign citizens seeking a student visa. You are subject to this fee and must pay it and receive a return receipt before your appointment at the embassy. The receipt must be sent to you and not to the school. The fee can be paid online. Form I-901 Online Completion site is available at fmjfee.com. The site provides a brief explanation of the fee requirement and procedure to pay online. For more detailed information on the fee payment process go to the SEVP website and review the I-901 Fee Frequently Asked Questions. The site also contains a link to the PDF version of Form I-901.
To obtain your student visa, you should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for complete information about application requirements and procedures. Normally, the following are needed:
1. Paper receipt of SEVIS fee
2. Form I-20
3. Letter of admission Notre Dame of Maryland University.
4. Financial documents to show your ability to afford your entire program of study at Notre Dame of Maryland University.
5. Valid, unexpired passport
6. Two identical photographs
7. Visa application fee, if required
In rare cases, an F-1 visa application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate may be denied. Visas can be denied if the consular officer is not convinced that the applicant is a non-immigrant. A non-immigrant's purpose and intent must be a temporary stay in the United States. U.S. federal regulations state that:
An applicant for a non-immigrant visa shall be presumed to be an immigrant until the consular officer is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to a non-immigrant status. [22 CFR 41.11]
To qualify for a student visa, you have to show the visa officer that you have a permanent residence and other ties outside of the U.S. which would compel you to leave the U.S. at the end of your temporary stay. Permanent residence and strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, individual to individual. Some examples of ties to a home country can be: a job, a house, immediate family members, a bank account, membership in professional, religious or social organizations, and long-range plans in your country.
Fortunately, a visa denial for this reason is not always permanent. After a denial, the consular officer may, after a specified period of time, reconsider a case if additional evidence of ties outside the U.S. can be presented by the applicant.
If your visa application is denied, before you leave the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, obtain an explanation of the specific reason you are denied and ask about re-application procedures.
Please be aware that no one but the consular/visa officer has the authority to reverse a visa decision; visa applicants must qualify according to their own circumstances, not on the basis of a sponsor's (or college's) assurance.
Travel Tips for Students
To enhance security without slowing legitimate travel, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has instituted some changes in U.S. entry and exit procedures. Careful planning and preparation by international students can ensure that any delay based on these procedures is minimal. Visit the ICE website for detailed information on entering the United States.
The enclosed sheet Travel Tips for Students and Exchange Visitors provides a brief summary of the steps to follow for entry to the United States.
Arrival in the United States
When you arrive in the United States it is necessary to report to the International Office in order to have your SEVIS record activated. The International Office is located in Meletia Hall, Feeley International Center, Room 016. All international students are required to attend an international student orientation session or arrange for an appointment with the International Student Advisor and Immigration Specialist to learn more about immigration regulations.
Contact information for immigration matters:
International Student Advisor and Immigration Specialist
4701 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210