After being accepted to Dixie State University as an International Student, you will receive or may already have received a Form I-20. This form qualifies you to apply for a student visa.
Please take a few minutes to review your Form I-20. Make sure all information printed about you and your program of study is correctly noted. Read the printed instructions on the back of your form and sign the first page as required. Finally, note that you have been given a “reporting date.” This is the date by which you should enter the U.S. with your I-20, although you are allowed to enter up to 30 days prior to this date, and no sooner.
If you discover an error on the form, contact the Office of International Student Services by phone, fax or e-mail to discuss the situation. Do not return your I-20 by mail unless you are instructed to do so.
What You Will Need
In addition to your I-20, you will need to take your passport, your Dixie State University acceptance letter and financial documentation to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Once there, you will complete Form DS-156 (Application for Non-immigrant Visa) and possibly be charged a processing fee (Taiwanese citizens apply through the American Institute in Taiwan; Canadian students are not required to obtain a visa). The amount of time needed to obtain a student visa varies by consular post. All questions related to processes and processing times should be directed to the embassy or consulate.
Although not required, it is best to apply for the student visa in your home country whenever possible.
Working With the Consular
Questions the Consular May Ask You
Before issuing the visa, the U.S. consular official must be convinced that you have a residence outside the United States that you have not abandoned and that you have not decided to seek permanent residence in the U.S. It is important to show the officer that you have strong ties to your country of residence, such as family, community or social ties, documents showing membership in professional organizations and religious groups, a family business, ownership of property, bank accounts, a job offer, or evidence that people with the kind of education you are seeking are needed.
If you have a Form I-20, you will apply for an F-1 visa. Also, even though you may be entering the U.S. before your spouse and/or children, they may apply for the F-2 dependent visa at the same time.
Questions the consular might ask:
• Why do you want to study in the U.S.?
• Why do you want to study ______________?
• Why did you choose Dixie State?
• How will your degree be used in your home country?
• What are your employment prospects?
You must be truthful and willing to answer direct questions. If the consular official thinks you are not telling the truth, you may not get a visa. Rehearse what you plan to say to the consular officer and try to be clear in your presentation. Government officials also love documents. Practice your English! It is important that you always be courteous and never demanding. Just in case a problem develops, you should make copies of any documents submitted. Applications should be made as early as possible.
Do not emphasize any ties or close relatives that you have to the U.S. and do not talk about working in the U.S. unless you have been awarded a graduate assistantship at Dixie State.
If You Are Denied A Student Visa
If you are denied a student visa, you have probably not sufficiently proven to the consular officer that you are entitled to student status. In most cases the denial will be based on failure to prove “permanent residence” or “strong ties” to your home country. A visa denial is not permanent and may be reconsidered if you can show further convincing evidence. We strongly suggest that you contact us if you are denied a visa so that we can advise you prior to your second application.
Do NOT enter the U.S. on a visitor’s visa or under the Visa Waiver Program.
If you have been accepted to Dixie State University but have not yet received your Form I-20 and there is little time left before school starts, do not enter the U.S. with a regular B-1/B-2 visitor’s visa, as there is no guarantee that tourist status can be changed to student status once in the U.S. However, if you are already in the U.S. with a visitor’s visa, the Office of International Student & Scholar Services can assist you in trying to change your status.
Only use the I-20 issued by the school you plan to attend!
Citizens of certain countries are permitted to visit the U.S. without applying for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. This is the Visa Waiver Program and individuals are issued a green I-94 card usually marked “WT.” Entry with a visa waiver restricts you to staying in the U.S. as a tourist for only 90 days. If you enter with a visa waiver, you will not be able to extend your stay in legal status in the U.S. for more than 90 days, and you will not be able to change to student status in the U.S. If you are a citizen of Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom, you are eligible for the visa waiver, but should not enter the U.S. with this status if you intend to become a student!
The I-20 is very important – DO NOT lose it!