F-1 Student Visa
If you are not a U.S. citizen or legal resident, you must have an F-1 student Visa to study full-time at the ELI.
If you are already studying in the United States on an F-1 visa, please contact ELI for procedures to transfer to our program.
One of the primary documents needed to apply for an F-1 Student Visa is a SEVIS Form I-20.
What is SEVIS?
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an internet-based system that provides tracking, monitoring and access to current information on non-immigrant students. It enables schools to issue I-20s and to transmit electronic information via the internet to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) throughout a student's stay in the United States.
Notre Dame of Maryland University is a SEVIS-approved institution. Our English Language Institute issues the SEVIS Form I-20 once a student has been accepted into the program.
Effective September 1, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security began collecting a congressionally mandated fee to cover the costs of operating the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
Use the SEVIS I-901 Fee Processing Website to learn more about the fee requirement and to pay the fee for F, M, and J non-immigrants.
How to Apply
Apply for a Visa
- Follow the steps to apply to the ELI.
- Pay the SEVIS Fee.
- Make a visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your home country.
Normally, the following are needed:
- Paper Receipt of SEVIS Fee
- Form I-20
- Letter of Admission from the ELI at Notre Dame of Maryland University
- Proof of Financial Support (original bank statement)
- Valid, Unexpired Passport
- Two Identical Photographs
- Visa Application Fee (if required)
Additional Requirements & Documents
Financial Support Requirements
The Department of Homeland Security requires that all F-1 applicants have financial resources that will adequately cover expenses while in the United States.
To receive a SEVIS Form I-20, you must submit, along with your application, an original bank statement and letter of sponsorship that shows proof of sufficient funding to cover tuition, housing and other estimated personal expenses while in the United States.
Financial statements must:
- Cover the full amount for the period of time enrolled in the program; and
- Be current within the last 6 months.
If you will be sponsored by a company, organization or government agency, you must include a letter from the sponsor listing which costs and expense the sponsor will pay. The letter must be written on official letterhead and it must be included with your ELI application.
If you plan to bring a spouse or children as dependents, you must provide evidence of additional financial support for each person. Please provide copies of the passport for each dependent with your ELI application.
After you receive a SEVIS Form I-20, check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to find out what is needed to apply for an F-1 Student Visa.
Other Important Documents
All international students are required to have certain documents. Students in F-1 status are required to have the following:
Your passport is the basic travel document issued by your government. While you are in the U.S., your passport must be valid for at least six months into the future.
Passports can be renewed at your government's embassy in Washington, D.C. It must be valid if you plan to leave and re-enter the U.S.
The SEVIS Form I-20 is a Certificate of Eligibility for non-immigrant (F-1) student status. The document is issued by academic institutions and used by students to:
- Obtain F-1 visas abroad;
- Re-enter the U.S.; and
- Transfer from one school to another.
Your signature on the SEVIS Form I-20 means you understand and accpet the DHS regulations. Keep this with your passport.
Your SEVIS Form I-20 is valid for the time period indicated on the form only if you maintain status. It becomes invalid despite the expiration date if you are out of status.
Transfers & Extensions
In the case of transfers or extensions, the school will give you the student copy of your new I-20 and update your DHS record in SEVIS.
Your visa is either a red, white and blue stamp on a page in your passport or a computerized visa form affixed to your passport.
- Visa Classification (F-1, J-1, etc.)
- Place and Date of Issue
- Expiration Date
- Number of Times You are Permitted to Enter the U.S. (S = single entry, M = multiple entries)
Once you have entered the U.S., the expiration date on your F-1 visa is no longer important for initial entry purposes.
For students entering the U.S. prior to May, 2013, the I-94 was a small white arrival/departure card which a DHS officer put into your passport when you arrived.
- DHS Admission Number
- Birth Date
- Date and Point of Entry into the U.S.
- Visa Classification
- Length of Time You Can Remain in the U.S.
What is D/S?
D/S means 'duration of status' and indicates that you can remain in the U.S. for as long as you are studying full-time in educational institutions and maintaining status. Students with F-1 visas have "D/S" written on their I-94's.
For students who entered the U.S. after May, 2013, the I-94 is no longer in card form. Instead the passport is stamped with arrival and length of stay (D/S).
Travel Abroad and Re-entry into the U.S.
Each time F-1 students leave the United States for a visit abroad, they must have their SEVIS Form I-20 signed. At least one week before leaving campus, students should bring their SEVIS Form I-20 to the English Language Institute to request a signature.
When traveling, please carry the following with you:
- Valid Passport (or travel document)
- Valid F-1 Visa in Passport with Multiple Entries
- SEVIS I-20 (Student Copy) endorsed for re-entry by the Program Coordinator, or a new SEVIS Form I-20 and evidence of financial support
If the visa stamp in your passport has expired, a new visa must be obtained at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country before re-entry to the United States.
When applying for a new F-1 visa, you must present a new SEVIS Form I-20 and evidence of financial support to the Embassy or Consulate.
New SEVIS Form I-20
To obtain a new SEVIS Form I-20, submit a request to our office before your departure and allow at least two weeks for processing.
If you are unsure about these documents, please ask the Program Coordinator to check them.
Travel to Another Country
If you plan to enter a country other than your own, you must contact that country's Embassy or Consulate in the U.S. to find out if an entry visa or health certificate is required.
When leaving the U.S., your Form I-94 (small white card stapled in your passport) must be surrendered.
Keep your SEVIS Form I-20 (Student Copy) with you at all times.
Change of Address
All internationals in the United States (including permanent residents) are required to provide DHS with their current U.S. address.
F-1 students are required to notify our office within 10 days of any change of address.
Visitors Visa (B-2)
If you are already in the United States on a B-2 visa, you may not study full-time until you have changed your visa status to an F-1 Student Visa. You may study part-time on a B-2 visa.
Citizens from certain countries do not need a visa to travel in the United States. However, please note that the following travelers will need a visa in these cases:
- People who intend to work in the U.S. (paid or unpaid). This includes work as an au-pair or intern.
- People who intend to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days.
- People who intend to attend school or university in the U.S.