What documents do I need in order to enter the U.S. to study?

Students need three documents in order to enter the U.S.:

1. A valid passport (The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in the U.S.)
2. A certificate of eligibility for an F-1 visa (A SEVIS I-20)
3. A valid F-1 visa stamp
4. Your SEVIS fee payment receipt

In addition, we encourage you to carry with you your letter of admission and financial verification documents.

Students from Canada do not need a visa stamp and will receive authorization to enter and study at the Point of Entry.

I have not yet received my I-20. When will it be issued?

The certificate of eligibility for F-1 student status (I-20) is issued by the International Students Advisor. Your I-20 will be issued once you have been admitted into a program of study at CIIS and submitted an enrollment deposit. In addition, you must submit the Certificate of Funding form and verification documents proving that you have funding to support your studies at the Institute.

Are there any scholarships available for International Students?

Yes. The Institute offers scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in our programs. Scholarships are partial tuition scholarships. Typically, the scholarships are two years in duration and do not apply towards summer tuition expenses. About 90 percent of our international students receive a scholarship from CIIS.

Please visit the CIIS Scholarship Programs page for more information.

I have been refused an F-1 visa by the visa officials at the U.S. Consulate due to a lack of financial resources. What should I do?

Consular standards for visa eligibility may be considerably more rigorous than the standards you must meet to qualify for an I-20. The Consular Officer will require you to provide the same (and possibly additional) financial documentation you provided to CIIS. You will most likely be required to show this documentation again upon arrival in the U.S. at your port of entry. It is important that you provide original financial verification documents to the Consular Office.

In addition, consular officials will need to be convinced that you are intending to return to your home country after your program of study is completed.

You may want to contact your department to let them know of possible delays in your entry. Please also contact Fraylanie Aglipay, Dean of Students, faglipay@ciis.edu or Deon Ridgell, Associate Dean of Students, dridgell@ciis.edu for assistance.

When do I have to complete the transfer procedures to stay in F-1 status? (I have obtained a degree in the U.S. and would like to join a new program at CIIS.)

F-1 students may remain in the United States while in the transfer process provided that they transfer to their new school of study within five months of transferring out of their current program or within five months of their current program completion date, whichever is earlier.

If you plan to transfer to CIIS you should complete the following steps:

1. Notify your current school's International Student Advisor of your decision to transfer to CIIS. Based on your current academic situation, the International Student Advisor at your current school will establish a "transfer out" date for you.
2. After the "transfer out" date, your SEVIS records will be available to CIIS. The International Student Advisor will be able to generate a new I-20 for your study at our Institute.
3. You are required to contact the International Student Advisor at CIIS within 15 days of your new program start date.

My spouse will be flying to the U.S.A. after I arrive. Does he need a separate I-20 form? Can both of us apply for our visas together, or does he need to apply separately just before his intended departure?

If your spouse or dependent child plans to join you in the U.S., you will need to provide verification of additional funding to support their living expenses in the U.S. This information should be submitted with the Certificate of Funding form. With proper documentation, the International Student Advisor will be able to issue a SEVIS I-20 for use by your spouse and/or child.

To qualify for an F-2 visa, your spouse would need to present a marriage license and you would need to present a birth certificate for your child. It is easier for dependents to obtain a visa if the visa application is made along with the student visa application at the U.S. Consulate BEFORE the student's initial entry.

After the visa is issued to the spouse/child, he or she can use the dependent I-20 to enter the U.S. at a later date, if necessary.

If you decide that your spouse will join you after you have arrived at CIIS, you should come to the International Students Office for further information.

Note: F-2 visa holders (dependents of F-1 visa holders) are not allowed to work in the U.S. under any circumstances.

I have been accepted into a graduate program. My partner would like to come to the U.S. with me. Can she be issued an F-2 dependent visa?

No. U.S. law defines a dependent as a child under the age of 21 or legal spouse. U.S. law does not provide the benefits of F-2 status to unmarried partners. Such partners will either have to come on a visitor visa, enroll independently at a college, or obtain an employment visa.

I have heard that I can work on campus once I am enrolled. Is this true?

Yes. F-1 visa holders are permitted to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and up to 40 hours per week during break periods. The International Students Office provides guidance through the employment process. ‘How-To’ information can be downloaded via the International Student forms page of the CIIS website. If you are granted work authorization, you will be eligible to earn a pre-determined amount of money in a given school year.

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