Mt. Sierra College Mt. Sierra College Mt. Sierra College Mt. Sierra College Mt. Sierra College

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Pre-Arrival/What You Need

Understanding the F-1 Status

In order for international students to study at MSC, they need to have a valid non-immigrant visa status.

The Student Exchange Visitors Programs (SEVP) http://www.ice.gov/sevis/ provides a table of which non-immigrant visa types are able to participate in part-time or full-time studies in the U.S. SEVP oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS).

F-1 Student Visa & I-20

The F-1 visa is the most common student visa and is issued to full-time students enrolled in an academic or language program at a U.S. institution. In order to apply for the F-1 visa, students must first receive their MSC I-20 from the Registrar Office. The I-20 is a three-page form with a MSC official’s signature on pages 1 and 3.

Please note that all questions related to the issuing of your MSC I-20 should be directed to the Joyce Boylan. Please email I-20 issuance questions to jboylan@mtsierra.edu

Transfer Students

International transfer students are international students currently studying at another U.S. institution in valid F-1 status, who will be transferring to MSC.  In order to complete the college transfer process to MSC, it is imperative that the student meets the requirements below to maintain legal status in the U.S.:

  • Student’s current institution must release the SEVIS record to MSC
  • This will enable MSC’s Registrar Department to issue a MSC “transfer pending” I-20.
  • Please make sure that the transfer I-20 issued by MSC indicates the notation “transfer pending from (name of previous institution)” in line #3 of page 1.

Questions regarding the MSC transfer I-20 must be directed to jboylan@mtsierra.edu

Student Visa Application Process

The process of becoming an F-1 student occurs in the following steps:

  1. Receive the F-1 I-20 from the MSC Registrar Department.
  2. Every international student or exchange visitor who wishes to begin an “initial” program of study or research is required to pay the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) I-901 fee to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/ The SEVIS fee must be paid with information from the MSC I-20. Print the fee payment receipt to present at visa interview at a U.S. embassy/consulate and at the U.S. Port of Entry.
  3. Complete the DS-160 online visa application:
    • Use only the “BACK” and “NEXT” buttons that are part of the application and not the web browser’s back and next arrows.
    • Be as completely accurate as possible with any questions asked and DO NOT submit the application until it is complete.
    • At the end of the online application, print the confirmation page with barcode that is required for all phases of the interview.
    • The U.S. Department of State http://travel.state.gov/visa/forms/forms_4401.html provides additional guidance on completing the DS-160
  4. Schedule and complete visa interview at a U.S. embassy/consulate http://www.usembassy.gov/
  5. Arrive at a U.S. airport and clear customs at a U.S. Port of Entry with the following documents:
    • Original I-20
    • F-1 student visa stamp in passport
    • Valid passport Financial documents consistent with I-20

NOTE: In order to obtain the most current and accurate information on visa application and interview process, international students should review the website for the U.S. consulate/embassy http://www.usembassy.gov/ where they will schedule the visa interview.

NOTE: When students successfully receive their student visa, the consular officer will seal their immigration documents in an envelope and attach it to their passport. Students should not open this envelope! The officer at the U.S. port of entry will open it.

Interview Tips

In addition to providing the required documents and showing ties to home country, making a positive impression on the consular officer is critical in the visa interview process. Here are some interviewing techniques suggested by NAFSA: Association of International Educators:

  • Be brief – It is important to understand that interviews are typically about five minutes in length; because of this, it is best to keep answers and explanations short and to the point.
  • Speak in English – Practice interviewing in English with a native English speaker – being fluent and confident will help present the case. However, avoid preparing a speech.
  • Speak for yourself – Make the case independently. Having parents or others speak on a student’s behalf does not make a good impression on the consular officer.
  • Be positive – Do not argue with the consular officer or come across as rude and sarcastic, even if the visa application is denied.
  • If the visa application is denied, please review this page for guidance. http://sait.usc.edu/ois/new-stu/pre-arrival/visaapp/appstatus.aspx