Visa issues to navigate

Before an international student can receive an F-1 visa to study in the United States, the student must apply to the U.S. consulate in their home country with an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility.

It is the higher education institution’s responsibility to ensure that accepted international students have all of the necessary admission requirements prior to the designated school official issuing the I-20 certificate.

Each country has different lengths of time in which students wait for a visa to come to the United States.

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Once an international student has come to the U.S. to enroll at a college, the student has a legal obligation to remain a full-time student and maintain F-1 visa status.

The college or university registers international students with SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System), managed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which monitors their enrollment each semester.

To maintain visa status, the student must be making normal progress toward completing a course of study.

“The important criterion is that the students are enrolled in full-time studies and are working toward an education goal,” says Dawn Wood, dean of international education at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa.

Elaina Loveland is a Washington, D.C.-area freelance writer.


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