What immigration papers will I need to enter the United States?
You will need a valid passport or travel document, a Form I-20, and a student (F-1) visa. An explanation of each document is provided below.
The passport shows the bearer's nationality and is valid for entry into a foreign country and back into the home country. It must be kept valid at least six months into the future.
Form I-20 A-B/ID
The I-20 A-B/ID is the document that CLU sends to you so that you may apply for a student (F-1) visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy. It indicates to consular officials that you have been accepted for admission and are eligible to attend CLU.
The visa is usually a stamped or affixed at entry on a page of the passport. It allows a person to apply for entry at a foreign port of entry. There are various categories of visas, depending upon the purpose and length of the intended stay. Visas are agreements made with the foreign country on conditions of entry (such as maintaining full-time student status and leaving the U.S. after a specified period). Students must apply for an F- 1 visa and enter the country in F-1 Student status.
Upon arrival in the United States, you will be given a Form I-94. It is a small white card that is usually stapled into your passport. Your immigration status will be indicated on this card. If you came into the country with your I-20 and F-1 visa, "F-1" should be written on your I-94. If it is not, ask the immigration official about it. Occasionally, immigration officials make mistakes. Such a mistake can be costly to you because you will have to pay to have your status changed later.
How do I apply for a student visa?
To apply for a student (F-1) visa, you must usually appear at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. Students must present a valid passport, the Form I-20 A-B/ID, proof of English language proficiency, and verification of financial support for at least the first year of your stay.
There will also be an application fee, which varies by country. Some countries may require additional documents to prove that you intend to be a student and plan to return to your home country at the end of your studies. Please check at the embassy or consulate for fee information and the documents required for application for a student visa.
May I enter the U.S. on a tourist visa or visa waiver?
You may enter the U.S. on a tourist visa; however, you may not study for a semester or a year on a tourist visa. Tourist visas (B-1 or B-2) and visa waivers (for citizens of certain specific countries who do not need a visa to visit the U.S.) are meant for people who plan to visit the U.S. for short periods of time for vacation or pleasure. They are not intended for students. In order to stay in the U.S. long enough to complete even one semester, you would have to change your status. This not only costs money but also is impossible for those on tourist waivers and is extremely difficult for those on B-1/B-2 visas.
The ONLY way to change your status from B-1/B-2 to F- 1 is to have a "prospective student" notation put on your visa at the embassy or consulate. You should not have to do this if you have received this packet and the I-20 A-B/ID which was sent with it is correct.
Entering on a tourist visa also denies you certain rights that foreign students in F-1 status have, such as on-campus employment and opportunities for off-campus employment after nine months in status. These rights will be discussed at International Student Orientation.
What if I am denied a visa?
Please contact the Office of Admission as soon as possible if you are denied a student visa. Though we cannot guarantee that a visa will be issued to all of our students, it may be possible for us to provide further information that may assist with your visa application.