Frequently Asked Questions about Visas during COVID 19
New and returning students will have questions regarding their visa process during the pandemic. Please read the following list of Frequently Asked Questions published by US Immigrations & Customs. If you do not find an answer to your question in this document, please do not hesitate to contact Hilary Petersen, PDSO or Lu-Shien Tan, DSO with questions or concerns.
How to schedule an interview for an F1 visa.
Just admitted to Lincoln Academy? Congratulations! We can’t wait to meet you.
Now what do you do?
- Have your parents sign and return your enrollment contract to email@example.com. Make sure your parents sign all of the pages.
- Pay your initial deposit to Lincoln Academy. If you have questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Wait for your Form I-20 to arrive in the mail. This form MUST be mailed to YOU, not an agent. The number in the upper right hand corner is your SEVIS ID number, and will be needed when you fill out the DS-160 visa application. Keep this and all future I-20’s with your passport for your entire educational career in the United States, even through college.
- Find the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and visit their website.
- Pay the I-901 Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Fee. This $350 fee must be paid before the US Department of State will issue you a visa.
- Obtain acceptable photographs (varies by country)
- Complete your ONLINE DS-160 visa application electronically. (You are applying for an F-1 visa)
- You may need to upload documents. Be prepared to scan or take pictures of all documents.
- Print the confirmation page and keep it for your appointment.
- Record the application ID and keep it for your records.
- Get a list of all required documents you must bring to your interview from the consulate website
- Schedule a visa interview appointment
You’ve scheduled your visa interview. What do you bring to the Embassy or Consulate?
(THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST. ALWAYS CHECK AGAINST THE LIST PROVIDED BY YOUR LOCAL US EMBASSY OR CONSULATE).
- Your original signed Form I-20. Make sure you and your parents sign the bottom of the page.
- Your acceptance letter from Lincoln Academy.
- The original financial documents you provided to the school when you applied (such as bank statements or certificate of deposit). It is important that you prove to the consulate that you can pay the entire tuition and other expenses.
- Your I-901 SEVIS Fee receipt to prove you submitted your payment to SEVP.
- Your Form DS-160 visa application confirmation barcode page.
- Original standardized test scores, academic transcripts, diplomas or certificates from previous education that you provided in your application. The consulate wants to be sure you are academically prepared to attend high school in the United States.
- Your passport and other identification. Your passport must expire at least 6 months beyond intended period of study.
- Properly sized passport photograph, the same photo you uploaded for the application.
- Extra copies of each of the documents listed above.
- You may be asked to confirm that your stay in the United States is temporary.
- You may be asked what you plan to do with the education you receive in the United States.
- Speak in English and take the interview seriously. Dress and speak formally.
- Evaluate your social media accounts from the last 5 years. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security may view applicants’ social media accounts.
Always provide genuine documents, original and not counterfeit, with your visa application.
You’ve acquired your Visa. What do you need to travel?
- Your ticket, of course.
- Your current passport with visa sticker. Passports that are set to expire within three months must be renewed before travel. If you have a current visa in an expired passport, make sure to bring the expired AND the new passport with you (this applies to students who have been studying in the states for more than a year).
- Your original signed I-20. Make sure that you and your parents have signed the bottom of the first page. You will be expected to present your I-20 at the port of entry, so keep it with your passport and ticket. DO NOT PACK IT IN A SUITCASE!
You may arrive in the United States up to 30 days before the Program Start Date listed on your Form I-20.
Please visit https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students for more information about student visas.
WHAT NOT TO BRING!
For New and Returning Students!!
It is STRONGLY recommended that you delete social media apps from your phone before coming back into the U.S. In the unlikely event that your phone is examined, it would be better that immigration not have access to your social media accounts.
- Here is a link to a list of restricted items that will delay your entry. Prohibited and Restricted Items.
- Not all foods are restricted. What are the general foods that can enter the United States?
- Here are the general rules around travel into the U.S. with food. Bringing Food into the U.S.
Important Information for Returning Students. Please Read.
You’re not a new student. You’ve traveled before. But, please attend to this information carefully. When traveling abroad during the summer, you should have the following documents ready when you return to the United States in August.
- A signed and up to date Form I-20
- Valid passport and visa. If you have a current visa in an old passport, you must bring both passports.
- Evidence of financial support from your parent or guardian
- I-901 SEVIS fee payment receipt
- Your Certificate of Enrollment, signed by Mr. Tan, in case you need to renew your visa.
- It is STRONGLY recommended that you delete social media apps from your phone before coming back into the U.S. In the unlikely event that your phone is examined, it would be better that immigration not have access to your social media accounts.
If you are traveling during a school vacation (such as February or April vacation), please visit the SEVP page Traveling as an International Student for important information. This will tell you the steps you need to take to be sure you have the right documentation when you travel during the school year.
I’m a Lincoln Academy student and just enrolled in another high school, College or University. How do I transfer my I-20 to another school?
To be eligible to transfer, you must consistently maintain F status and follow the correct transfer procedures. To maintain your status at your current school, you must continue attending all of your classes while you are waiting to transfer. For an F student, that is until your transfer release date. Your transfer release date is the day on which the designated school official (DSO) at your current school moves responsibility for your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to your new school. An F-1 student in good standing is eligible to transfer to another school or program of study. To start the process of transferring, you must bring the following to your designated school official (DSO):
- Written confirmation of acceptance to another Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school
- Contact information for the new school’s DSO
- The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) school code for the transfer-in school
Your DSO will then work with you, and the DSO at your new school, to choose a transfer release date. This date is when the DSO at your transfer-in school takes responsibility for your SEVIS record. Several factors go into selecting this date:
- Academic needs
- Travel and employment plans
- Projected start date of your new program
Once your transfer release date arrives, the DSO at Lincoln Academy will not have access to your SEVIS record, and your new DSO can create a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status,” for you. It is important to get a new Form I-20 (signed by your new DSO and you) as soon as possible. To maintain your status, register for classes and contact your new DSO within 15 days of the program start date listed on your new Form I-20.
If you have arrived in the United States but want to transfer to a new school before you begin classes at the school listed on your Form I-20, talk to the DSO at the school listed on that form. You need to inform the DSO that you have arrived in the United States and want to transfer immediately to another SEVP-certified school. You must show proof of acceptance to your new school. You must report to your new school and enroll in a full course of study within 30 days of arriving in the United States.
(If your DSO believes you may not have maintained your status, your SEVIS record could be in Terminated status, which is the DSO’s way of reporting a concern to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. You may still be able to transfer in Terminated status. Talk to your current DSO and a DSO at the new school if you want to transfer with a terminated record.)
If I am finished attending school in the US, how long can I stay?
F students must take action to maintain legal status or depart the United States after completing your program of study.
Once you complete your program of study at Lincoln Academy, F students have 60 days after completion of the program (the program end date on your Form I-20) to leave the United States. If you wish to extend your stay in the United States as a high school student, you must transfer your I-20 to another school.