U.S. immigration rules and regulations can be complex. The Office of Study Abroad and International Student Services assists international students to navigate these complexities.
Applying for a U.S. Student Visa
A valid student visa is required to lawfully enter the United States and study in the United States. For information on processing times and procedures, visit the U.S. Department of State.
- Southwestern University will issue a Form I-20 to admitted students.
- An in-person visa interview is generally required. Students should schedule the visa interview as soon as possible as there may be delays due to visa appointment wait times.
- The F-1 student visa application requires:
Exception for Canadian Citizens: Canadians are not required to obtain a U.S. visa stamp in their passport. However, Canadian must obtain a Form-I-20 from Southwestern University and pay the SEVIS Fee.
Entering the U.S.
To enter the U.S., international students must present the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Valid visa (except Canadian citizens)
- Valid Form I-20
- Proof of financial support
- Proof of full-time enrollment (a copy of SU course registration)
- SEVIS fee receipt
Maintaining Your F-1 Student Visa Status
An F-1 student is admitted to the U.S. for “duration of status”, which is notated as D/S on the I-94 arrival record.
- This means that an F-1 student is permitted to stay in the U.S. as long as that individual follows the rules of their immigration status.
- Even if the student visa is valid, the student can lose their immigration status if they do not comply with immigration laws regulating their stay in the U.S.
Below are the main requirements for maintaining F-1 status:
- Maintain a valid passport at all times
- Attend the school that is listed on the current I-20
- Enroll in a full course load (minimum of 12 credits per semester)
- Apply for an extension if the student cannot complete their degree by the end date listed on their I-20
- Follow the rules related to working or interning in the U.S. If the type of employment the student wants to engage in is not listed on our website, then engaging in it would likely be a violation of visa status.
- Have the proper documents for international travel
- Keep the student’s address up-to-date. Any change must be reported within 10 days.