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F-1 Student Visa Information

Anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States qualifies as an international student. Commonly, these students attend college on an F-1 student visa. Information on how to obtain a non-immigrant F-1 Student Visa is listed below. 

  • Go to the website for your local U.S Embassy or Consulate and follow the instructions on how to obtain a non-immigrant F-1 student visa.

  • Sign the front page of your I-20 in blue ink and schedule your F-1 visa appointment by following the instructions on your local Embassy/Consulate’s website.

  • Pay the SEVIS 1-901 fee

  • Pay the visa application fee by following the instructions on your local U.S Embassy or Consulate website

  • Obtain and complete a student visa application form DS-160. You can find the DS-160 form here.

  • Prepare the following items and bring them to your visa interview
    • Completed visa application
    • Original I-20 form and the admission letter sent by Concordia University, St. Paul
    • SEVIS 1-901 fee payment receipt
    • Nonrefundable visa application fee
    • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the expiration of your I-20
    • Two identical color photographs (2x2 inches)
    • Original school transcripts and public examination certificates, including a student copy of your TOEFL, IETLS, GMAT, or GRE score report if applicable
    • Medical examination results in an envelope sealed by the medical office. 
    • Official documentation to prove your financial support
    • Any evidence that demonstrates strong ties to your country or any other residence outside of the USA
    • All other documents listed on the visa application specific to your country.

How to Maintain F-1 Student Visa Status

It is very important for an F-1 student to maintain his or her status while in the United States. Failure to maintain the terms and conditions of nonimmigrant status (F-1) is a ground for removal from the United States (deportation) under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

  • You must be registered in SEVIS within 30 days of the program start date (for new students) or 30 days after returning for the next semester. This is done in the International Student Services Office.

  • You must pursue a full course of study (minimum 12 credits) at the school listed on the currently valid I-20 during every academic session or semester. Please contact the Coordinator of International Student Services if you have any questions about the minimum number of credits.

  • Make normal progress towards completing your course of study, by completing studies before the program completion expiration date on your Form I-20.

  • Keep your Form I-20 valid by following the proper procedures for an extension of stay, transfer of schools, or change of major. If any of these situations arise, please contact the Coordinator of International Student Services.

  • Report a change of address to the Coordinator of International Student Services within 10 days of the change.

  • Abide by any special requirements, such as Special Registration requirement. This applies to a few countries only.

  • Do not work, either on or off campus, unless authorized. Most students are permitted to work on campus. Please contact the Coordinator of International Student Services for information about off campus employment.

  • At least 2 weeks before traveling outside of the United States (US) have your documents checked and signed at the International Student Services Office.

  • Remaining in the US for no longer than 60 days after completing the full course of study, unless prior to that time the student has followed procedures for applying for practical training or school transfer.

Dependents

Dependents (spouse or children) of international students may accompany you to the United States if you hold an F-1 or J-1 visa by applying for a dependent (F-2 or J-2) visa.

You may request a dependent I-20 or DS-2019 by submitting the Request for I-20/DS-2019 form.

Employment in the U.S.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Under the prior rules, an F-1 student could be authorized to receive up to a total of 12 months of practical training either before (pre-) and/or after (post-) completion of studies.

  • Pre-completion OPT: An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT after he or she has been enrolled for one full academic year. The pre-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study. Students authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT must work part-time while school is in session. They may work full time when school is not in session.
  • Post-completion OPT: An F-1 student may be authorized to participate in post-completion OPT upon completion of studies. The post-completion OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.

What is the application process to participate in pre- or post-completion OPT? 

  • Students must initiate the process by requesting the Designated School Official (DSO) at their academic institution to recommend the OPT. The DSO makes such recommendation by endorsing the student’s Form I-20 and by making appropriate notation in SEVIS, the system used to track F-1 students. 
  • Students then file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If approved, USCIS will issue an EAD to the student.
  • The student may begin engaging in pre- or post-completion OPT only after an application has been approved and an EAD has been issued. For more information click here.

Sponsored International Student Program

Concordia University is proud to provide specialized support services to international sponsored students and their sponsors. A sponsored international student has typically been selected by a government, organization, or company to pursue academic study while receiving a financial scholarship. 

Services unique to sponsored international students include:

  • Academic advising and support
  • Immigration advising and support
  • Document processing
  • Fostering relationships between the student, sponsor, and the university

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