The Process..Step 1 Submit all documents needed by the Admissions Office to formally accept you into a program at Pfeiffer. Submit proof of financial support Submit proof of English proficiency An I-20 will be prepared and mailed to you.
The Process…Step 2 Pay the $100 SEVIS fee For more information, Go to: www.fmjfee.com –Use I-901 Form –Pay online using a credit card (quickest way) –Pay by mail with funds drawn on U.S. bank –Pay by Western Union SAVE THE RECEIPT!
The Process…Step 3 Wait until 3 days AFTER you have paid the SEVIS fee before going to the embassy/consular office A personal interview is required –Be prepared to convince the officer that you intend to return to your home country –Expect that the interview will be conducted in English Take the following with you: –I-20 –Acceptance Letter –Passport –Financial Support Documentation –SAT or TOEFL scores –School Transcripts –Evidence of your intent to return home after you finish your degree (land ownership, promise of a job, strong family ties, etc.
VISA The visa page put in your passport by the U.S consulate/embassy abroad is needed to enter the U.S. The visa shows the latest date on which you can apply to enter this country. It does not show how long you can stay here. When you arrive at the “port of entry” (U.S. airport), the Immigration Inspector examines your passport, your visa, and your I-20, and determines whether you are admissible and how long you can stay.
Visa Renewal It is necessary to renew your visa only if: You plan to leave and re-enter the U.S. after your visa has expired You are going to a country other than Canada, Mexico, or any of the islands in the Caribbean Sea (except Cuba). DO NOT try to renew your visa while visiting these countries. Note: your I-94 is used to gain entry into the US from these countries. So, you must have it when traveling there.
I-94 The I-94 shows that you have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. The I-94 is usually stapled onto the U.S. visa page of your passport. It contains an 11-digit identifying number (called your admission number) that USCIS uses to keep track of your arrival in and departure from the U.S.
Expiration of Stay If there is a date written in the upper right corner of your I-94, you must leave the U.S. by that date or apply to extend your stay. If there is a date on your I- 94, CONTACT THE INTERNATIONAL CENTER IMMEDIATELY. Your I-94 should have the inscription “DS” (duration of status).
Duration of Status (D/S) Most F-1 students have permission to remain in the United States for what is known as “duration of status” which is noted on the I-20 and the form I-94 as “D/S.” Duration of status is defined as “the period during which the student is pursuing a full course of study.. and any period of authorized practical training, plus sixty days within which to depart from the United States.” F-1 students must make academic progress toward a degree to keep valid status.
Status vs. Visa Visa:A stamped page inside the passport issued by the US embassy or consulate. You only need it to enter the U.S. after traveling outside the country. Your visa can only be issued outside the U.S. Status:This is your legal state inside the U.S. It is given to you by BCIS at the port of entry and recorded on your I-94 card. NOTE: Your status is whatever visa you show the immigration officer at the airport. For example, if you show the officer your B1/B2 (visitor) visa, you have entered the country as a visitor and not a student!
I'm Out-of-Status What are the Options? Students who violate the terms of their visa are out-of-status Apply directly to Immigration through the mail requesting reinstatement back into status (not available for all violations) Leave the country with a new I-20 form and reenter if permitted
Can an Out-of-Status Student Regain Legal Status? Students may apply to USCIS for reinstatement of status only if the violation resulted from circumstances beyond his control. Students will have much more difficulty receiving reinstatement if out of status for more than 5 months. Reinstatements will only be approved if the delay was beyond students’ control.
Unlawful Presence If you are out of status and caught by authorities, the following penalties apply if you continue to remain inside the US: Less than 180 days: no penalty From 180-365 days: 3 year bar from re-entering U.S. More than 1 year: 10 year bar from re- entering U.S.
Immigration Attorneys Immigration lawyers can be extremely helpful because they should know the latest laws and have skills in handling complicated immigration issues. To find a good immigration lawyer, check with the local bar association. If you need a lawyer to start the immigration process from outside the U.S., the American consulate or embassy may be able to help you. In all cases, shop around, and be careful about paying high fees at the first meetings. NOTE: There is a difference between “immigration” attorneys and “criminal” attorneys. Criminal attorneys are specialized in criminal law procedures. Seek the advice of a criminal attorney for cases involving criminal offenses like shoplifting and drunk driving. We STRONGLY recommend that students seek the advice of a criminal attorney AND an immigration attorney if they have been charged with a criminal offense. Criminal charges can have serious consequences on students’ immigration status.
What if I have a question? Contact the International Center at: (704) 463-3365 Or visit our office, located on the Misenheimer campus in the library (top floor). Rebecca Treece (Primary DSO) (704) 463-3368 Rebecca.Treece@pfeiffer.edu Jim Gulledge (DSO) (704) 463-3365 Jim.Gulledge@pfeiffer.edu Office hours are 8-5pm, Monday-Friday
FINAL WORDS It is up to you to know your legal responsibilities as an international student. See an advisor in the International Center if you have questions. DO NOT rely on the advice of friends or relatives. Keep copies of all your immigration paperwork and passports (even expired, out of date, or reissued)