What is a form I-20?
When you are admitted by a college or university, they will send you an immigration form called the I-20. This form indicates your field of study (major) and the length of your studies, as well as the date at which you must arrive to the university/college.
The I-20 form allows the student to apply for a visa known as the F-1 Visa. There is also a form IAP-66 which results in a J-1 student visa, because this is not available to most students information is not given here.
What do I do with my I-20 form?
Take your I-20 form together with your admission and financial support document to the USA Embassy or Consulate and apply for the F-1 visa. The USA Embassy is in Tel Aviv and the USA Consulate is in Jerusalem.
Please note: THE FORM I-20 DOES NOT GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL BE ISSUED A F-1 VISA. The local Consular official makes the final decision on whether or not to issue a student visa.
Now that I have my F-1 visa, when can I enter the USA?
The visa will normally allow you to enter the USA during a period of 30 days before the reporting date shown on the I-20. For example, if the reporting date is January 1st, the visa will permit you to enter the United States any time between December 2nd and January 1st.
What will happen if I cannot arrive by the reporting date to the university/college?
You will have to request a new I-20 from your college/university. Many universities will admit you for the next available session, but some universities may have restrict your re-admittence.
If my F-1 visa expires, how do I renew it?
The F-1 visa is an entry document only. The visa only needs to be valid at the time you enter the USA. It does not need to be renewed if you stay in the USA. However, you may wish to visit another country on your vacation periods from school. If your visa has expired, ask your foreign student advisor to provide complete information about how to renew your visa. You may then apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting.
What will happen when I enter the USA with my F-1 visa?
An airline flight attendant will ask you to fill out a I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) in the airplane before you land at the U.S. port of entry. You will present the I-94 form together with your passport to the immigration inspector when you land. The immigration inspector will stamp the I-94 with a "D/S" (duration of status). "D/S/" means that you may stay in the USA until you complete your studies. You should keep the I-94 form and a copy of your valid I-20 with your passport at all times.
What are my obligations as a student on an F-1 visa?
Students on an F-1 visa must follow the regulations of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). According to these regulations, you must:
register for classes at the college/university which issued the I-20
be enrolled as a full-time student while you are in the U.S.A.
follow the required procedures before requesting permission to work off-campus
request assistance from your foreign student advisor if you wish to transfer from one university/college to another university/college
Who will help me if I need to contact the INS?
The foreign student advisor at your university will help you take care of all matters relating to immigration regulations. Larger universities have several foreign student advisors to assist students with immigration questions.
How long can I stay in the USA with an F-1 visa?
The I-20 indicates the length of time you can stay to finish your course of studies. The US Government takes a generous position towards students who are enrolled full time in a US University/College. You are permitted to stay until your studies are finished.
If I cannot complete my studies in the required time, may I stay longer with an F-1 visa?
If you need a longer period of time to complete your studies, a foreign student advisor at you university will help you apply for an extension.
Can I work at the University/College while I am a student on an F-1 visa?
Yes, some university/colleges offer student employment. No special permission from the INS is necessary for an on-campus job. However, jobs may be limited. Also, the money earned from either an on-campus or off-campus job will not be enough to cover your tuition and living expenses. This money should be considered to be only a small supplement to your other financial resources. THE INS EXPECTS ALL STUDENTS ADMITTED TO US UNIVERSITIES TO HAVE SUFFICIENT FUNDS FOR THEIR EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES.
Can I work off campus with an F-1 visa?
Yes, but there are additional requirements that you must fulfill:
1. You must be a full time student in the U.S.A. for at least one academic year (9 months) before requesting permission to work off campus.
2. Both you and the employer must complete certain forms. These forms may be obtained from your foreign student advisor
How many hours a week may I work on an F-1 visa?
While School is in Session, you may work for a maximum of 20 hours per week on a F-1 visa. During vacation periods you may work full-time (40 hours a week) on an F-1 visa.
Must I leave the USA after I complete my degree program when I am on an F-1 visa?
You will have up to 60 days after you complete your degree requirements to leave the USA, You may stay longer if:
1. You begin another degree program. For example if you finish a bachelor's degree, you may begin a master's degree program. In this case, you will need to apply for an extension of a new program of study. You may ask your foreign student advisor for assistance
2. You apply for "Practical Training" Again your foreign student advisor will help.
What Is Practical Traning?
This is an opportunity for you to gain employment experience in your profession for a maximum of one year. The work must be directly related to your major field of study and it must be appropriate for your level of education. The work may be full time or part time and may occur anywhere in the USA. To be eligible, you must:
1. Have been a full-time student for at least 9 months
2. Submit your application for an "Employment Authorization Document (EAD) no earlier than 90 days before you complete your studies no later than 30 days after you complete your studies.
3. You should check with your foreign student advisor for updated information
Is it difficult to obtain the "Employment Authorization Document" for Practical Training?
No, all students who apply within the time guidelines are granted permission for practical training. However, the student is responsible for finding a job.
120. Where can I get official US government information on Student Visas to the USA?
Go to the link http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
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