Immigration Information for New International Students
David Donahue, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Visa Services, U.S. Department of State
Most students at The University of Akron enter the United States on an F-1 student visa in order to enroll in a full-time degree program.
To be eligible for and F-1 student visa, students must receive a Form I-20 "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status" issued by The University of Akron (UA). To be eligible to receive an I-20 from UA, a student must:
Once these documents are received, the Office of International Programs will issue the I-20 and will notify the student once the I-20 has been prepared.
F-1 students may bring their dependent(s) (spouse and/or children) to the U.S. in F-2 visa status. A spouse in F-2 status may not accept employment in the U.S. or be full-time students. Part-time vocational or recreational study is permitted. F-2 children are permitted to study in elementary and secondary schools.
Some students enter the U.S. on a J-1 "Exchange Visitor" visa. This visa is for people who are participating in an Exchange Visitor Program administered by the U.S. Department of State for the purpose of educational and cultural exchange.
Participants in this program (such as Reciprocity students) must have a Form DS-2019 "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status" issued by the program sponsor in order to apply for a J-1 visa.
To be eligible to receive a DS-2019 from UA, an exchange visitor must:
Once these documents are received, the Office of International Programs will issue the DS-2019 and will notify the student once the DS-2019 has been prepared.
J-1 students may bring their dependent(s) (spouse and/or children) to the U.S. in J-2 visa status. These individuals may study and are eligible to work upon obtaining employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Students who are currently in the U.S. in valid F-1 status and are either studying in their academic program, on Optional Practical Training (OPT), or in the 60-day grace period will need to transfer will need to transfer their SEVIS record to UA before they are eligible to begin their academic program at UA. Instructions on how to transfer to UA, as well as the necessary forms, can be found in the Transfer Packet.
After submitting all of the necessary forms and documents for your transfer, the OIP will issue a "Transfer Pending I-20" and send it to you. Upon your arrival to Akron, you must check-in with the OIP and present your immigration documents and "Transfer Pending" I-20. Once you have checked-in and have registered full-time for classes, you will receive a new "Transfer Complete" I-20 verifying your valid F-1 status as a student at The University of Akron.
Please remember that your transfer should be completed no later than the deadline. Failure to do so results in the violation of your non-immigrant status.
If you plan to leave the U.S. before attending The University of Akron, be sure to get a "Transfer Pending" I-20 before your re-entry so that you may use this form to reenter the country or to apply for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy, if necessary.
Note: If you are out of status, you need to discuss reinstatement to valid status with an international student adviser at the OIP.
If you have J-2, H-1b, or H-4 visa status, UA does not require you to change your status to F-1 or J-1 student status to be enrolled. The only requirement is that you much check-in with the Office of International Programs prior to enrolling in classes. When you check-in, you should bring your immigration documents so that a copy can be made for your file.
If you are in F-2 status and are admitted to a degree program, you will need to change your visa status to F-1 before enrolling at UA.
If you wish to change from your present status to F-1 or J-1 visa status, please download the information sheet regarding a change of status and contact an international student adviser in the OIP as soon as possible.
There are two things you should do to increase your chances of a favorable decision on your visa application:
Most of the procedures and requirements for applying for the F-1/J-1 visas are standardized for all U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad. However, some procedures may be specific for a particular country. Be sure to read the U.S. Embassy's website carefully, as it will list all of the detailed instructions for visa applications. Below are some links where you can find useful information regarding the visa application process.
When you receive your I-20 (if you are applying for an F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (if you are applying for a J-1 visa), from The University of Akron, check the following:
Read all of the instructions on page two of the form and sign page one. Signing the form means that you understand, and will abide by, the regulations of the visa status once you are in the United States
Pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee (I-901) and print/or receive the hard copy of the receipt. Keep this receipt with your I-20 or DS-2019 and take it with you to your visa interview. Information regarding the SEVIS I-901 Fee can be found here.
Follow the instructions of the U.S. Embassy where you will apply for your visa and schedule your visa interview. At some point in this process you will need to pay the visa application fee.
Complete the required visa application forms and gather all of the documentation required by the U.S. Embassy, including the visa-qualifying document (I-20 or DS-2019), admission letter, financial support documents, and the SEVIS I-901 Fee receipt. Read the U.S. Embassy's website carefully so that your application is complete in order to avoid delays or denials.
Prepare for your visa interview. Due to the volume of applications received, all consular officers are under considerable pressure to conduct quick and efficient interviews. Keep your answers to the officer's questions short and to the point.
Written documents you are presenting must be concise, easily read and evaluated. Remember that the interview takes only a few minutes. The officer must make a decision, for the most part, on the impressions he/she forms during the first minute of the interview.
The Consular Officer must be satisfied on three counts:
If your application is refused, the Consular Officer is required to give you an explanation in writing. You have the right to apply a second time, but if you reapply, make sure to prepare much more carefully. The Consular Officer will want to see fresh evidence sufficient to overcome the reasons for the first denial.
If you have been issued a visa to enter the United States, you will not be allowed to enter the country more than 30 days before the start of your program.
U.S. immigration law governs the entry of all visitors to the United States, including students and exchange visitors. It details what they are authorized to do during their stay in the country.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the agency responsible for ensuring that these visitors comply with U.S. law and regulations. When you arrive in the United States, you come under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, and one of the three units within DHS responsible for non-U.S. citizens: the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Bureau.
On your plane to the United States or when you arrive in the country, you will receive a Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record). Please safeguard this form; it contains the official record of your admission, your nonimmigrant status and the period of authorized stay in the United States. For more information about arriving in the U.S., see "Arriving at a U.S. Port of Entry --- What a Student can Expect," (for F-1/J-1).
After you arrive in Akron, you are required to attend the Office of International Programs' Orientation Session, where immigration rules will be discussed and handouts on maintaining valid status will be provided.
You may also schedule a meeting with one of the international student advisers in the OIP to discuss any questions or concerns you have about immigration regulations and requirements.
Once you arrive on campus, you should report immediately to the Office of International Programs (OIP), Polsky Building, Room 483. When you check-in, you should bring the following documents with you:
The OIP must report your arrival to the US Department of Homeland Security through SEVIS. If this report is not submitted, you may be considered to be in violation of your status in the United States, so be sure to make the OIP one of your first stops on campus.
We hope that this information has been helpful to you, and we wish you good luck as you prepare to study in the United States.