Ever wonder what it takes for an international student to arrive to the US to study at college and universities?
To start, students may need to take a number of standardized tests such as the SAT or GRE, depending on which university the student would like to attend and what their level of study is.
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a requirement for many institutions for admissions for foreign students. The exam can be either in a paper based (PBT) format or Internet based (IBT) format. There are various sections that focus on reading, listening, speaking and writing in English. Curious and want to see what the exam is like? Try your hand at a practice test.
The student will usually be admitted to a SEVP (Student Exchange Visitor Program) approved school. Students pay the SEVIS I-901 application and fee.
Once the student has paid this, a Designated School Official (DSO) or a Responsible Officer (RO) will issue either a Form I-20 (if the student is applying for a F-1 visa or a M-1 visa) or DS2019 (for a student applying for a J-1 visa). These forms are certificates of eligibility for study in the United States and are one of the necessary immigration documents. A student can only receive these forms once they are in the US.
After receiving their I-20 or DS2019, the student will schedule a visa interview at a US embassy and consulate after completing a visa application.
This step is crucial because the consular officer determines if the student is eligible to receive the visa. The interview is entirely in English for a number of reasons. Once the visa process is complete, the student is able to make travel plans and enter the US.
But what is the difference between a F-1, J-1 and M-1 visa, anyway?
An F-1 visa is for international students who will be completing a degree and is the most common visa. The J-1 visa is for students on an exchange program sponsored by the Department of State. The M-1 visa is for students doing vocational training at universities. Each visa has certain requirements that a student must maintain throughout their course of study.
One such requirement is that students must report to their international student advisor/international office after arriving in the US. This so international student advisors can change their student’s status from “initial” (not present in US) to “active” (present in US) status. This action is recorded in SEVIS (Student Exchange Visitor Information System), a database commonly used by international student advisors to track international students while they attend their institution.
There is a lot of work, from multiple parties, in order to make this process a success from start to finish. But after learning about it, I hope you gained a greater appreciation and understanding of it, as well.
This post is part of our #SAinternational series. We will hear from #SApros who work in international student related services. We’ll also hear from those those who have had the fortunate opportunity to work overseas or have a global perspective to higher education. For more info, please see Kim Irland’s intro post. Be sure to check out other posts in this series.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Alison Scheide on Study Abroad Programs