Welcome to Appalachian State University!
Congratulations on being admitted to Appalachian State University and choosing to pursue your educational and personal goals with us. International Student and Scholar Services and Outreach and the Office of International Education and Development are excited to support you every step of the way and to ensure that you thrive academically and personally during your time here. On this page you will find information about everything you need to know and do to acquire your U.S. student visa and prepare join us at Appalachian. Please carefully review all of the information linked below and follow the instructions you find there. Doing so will make the transition as easy as possible.
Many U.S. visa types allow those visa holders to study. There are only a few visas, however, that are specifically intended for non-U.S. citizens to come to the U.S. to study. At Appalachian, these visas include:
- F-1 - for full-time, degree seeking students
- J-1 - for full-time degree or non-degree students
These student visas are managed by the U.S. government through an online database called the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Both F-1 and J-1 students have immigration records created and maintained by International Student and Scholar Services and Outreach in SEVIS. We are here to help international students keep their SEVIS record accurate and updated with regard to personal information and academic information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are maintain valid legal status and that your SEVIS record is up to date.
An international student admitted to an Appalachian State University degree program can apply for either an F-1 or J-1 student visa. Exchange students must apply for a J-1 visa. Degree-seeking international students will be issued either a form I-20 (for F-1 visa applicants) or a form DS-2019 (for J-1 visa applicants) by Appalachian State University, depending on the type of academic program they are admitted to. While there are differences in the F-1 and J-1 student immigration regulations, there are many similarities as well.
The Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a database used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect, track, and monitor information regarding exchange visitors, international students, and scholars who enter the United States on F, J, or M visas. SEVIS is managed by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security.
All international students have a SEVIS "record" which is managed by our office. We will update the student's SEVIS record as need with changes to the academic program, major or degree field, residential address, employment authorization information, anticipated graduation date, etc. Failure to update this record as changes occur can result in a loss of legal status for the student and have serious consequences to your ability to your future ability to enter the U.S.
Before applying for your student visa, OR applying for a change of status to F or J student status, international students must pay a SEVIS fee in order to apply for a student visa. The SEVIS fee is separate from the U.S. embassy visa application fee that you will also have to pay. The current SEVIS fees are as follows:
- F-1 students: $200.00
- J-1 students: $180.00
This SEVIS fee is in addition to the required visa application fee from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
For current information on the amount of the fee, who is subject to the fee, and how to pay it, see the SEVP fee website, here: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/i901/
Although you have been admitted to Appalachian State University, if you are coming from another country, the U.S. Embassy/Consulate makes the final decision in granting you a student visa.
Information for Canadian citizens: A visa from a U.S. embassy is not required for Canadian citizens, so the information below regarding visa application requirements does not apply to Canadian citizens. Canadians, however, must still present a valid immigration and financial documents supporting their request for admission to the U.S. under a student visa status. If Canadian students enter the U.S. without presenting a SEVIS issued DS-2019 form or I-20 form, it is likely that they have entered as a tourist and will not be allowed to study at Appalachian. If you are a Canadian citizen, please ensure that you present the correct documents at the U.S. port of entry, and that you are admitted in a valid students status - either F-1 or J-1.
Where should I go?
The U.S. Embassy/Consulate closest to your home will process your visa application. You can find a list of U.S. Embassies and Consulates on the U.S. State Department website: http://www.usembassy.gov/
When should I go?
Information on wait times for a visa appointment is available on the U.S. Dept. of State website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html
Immediately after you receive your admissions and immigration documents you should make an appointment to apply for your student visa. Most offices Embassy/Consulate offices have specific hours to review non-immigrant visa applications. Most applicants will go to the Embassy/Consulate and have to wait in long lines. You should check with the U.S. consulate closest to your home for their application procedures. See above link for a list of Consulates.
- Most U.S. universities begin their academic year in August, so the summer months are a very busy time at the consulate office. Plan ahead so you can arrive in time for the required international student orientation
- Remember that U.S. consulate office will be closed for both U.S. and local holidays.
- Because delays are common at the consulate, arrange an interview long before the day you plan to travel to the U.S..
What should I take to the U.S. Consulate?
It is crucial that you take all the proper documents with you during your visa appointment. If you don't, you may be required to return for a second time, which may delay your visa for several weeks. The visa application form is now submitted online, but here are some additional common documents and forms required at most offices:
- visa application fee - amount will vary according to country
- immigration forms I-20 or DS-2019 provided by the Appalachian State University (or sponsoring agency)
- Proof of I-901 SEVIS payment
- letter of admission from Appalachian State University
- copy of TOEFL or IELTS score if available (for non native English speakers)
- proof of finances and/or assistance/scholarship (original bank documents and/or assistantship/scholarship letter)
- photographs for visa (photographs with eyeglasses are not acceptable)
- valid passport
- previous school transcripts, diplomas or records (not always required but you should be prepared to present them if requested)
- documents to support your non-immigrant intent (intent to return to your home country upon completing your studies.
What happens at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate?
You may be required to speak with a consular official that reviews many visa applications every day. The consular officer will quickly review your documents and ask about your plans of study. The officers will verify that you have the academic ability, English language skills, and financial resources to study at Appalachian. Since you are applying for a non-immigrant visa, the officer may require documentation of proof of intent to return to your home country. The officer will then give you instructions about when to return to pick up your documents and your visa or when to expect them in the mail. A few applicants may receive a request to submit additional information. If this happens, it is important that the applicant follow the instructions exactly as given.
After you receive your student visa, you will probably travel to the U.S. either by air or by land.
If you are traveling by air, be sure to carry your immigration documents with you onto the plane because you will be required to present your passport and these documents to the Immigration Officer at your U.S. port of entry. DO NOT PACK THEM IN YOUR CHECKED BAG! If you are traveling by land, you will have to stop at the border Port of Entry and request an I-94 card.
When you arrive at your port of entry in the United States, you will be inspected by an immigration officer for admission into the U.S. At this time you will present the following documents:
- I-20 or DS-2019
- Financial information if asked
Your passport will be stamped by the officer with the entry date and the visa status under which you are being admitted. The inspector may also stamp your I-20 or DS-2019 and return it to you.
If you are coming as an F-1 student, your passport should be stamped and noted with the designation: F-1 D/S. If you are coming as a J-1 student, your passport should be stamped and noted with the designation: J-1 D/S. Look at what the officer writes to make sure this is entered correctly. If your passport is not stamped correctly, ask the officer to correct the stamp. Doing so will cause further difficulty.
During the summer of 2013, U.S. customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the elimination the paper I-94 card issued to international students entering the U.S. in non-immigrant visa statuses. There is now an electronic copy of the I-94 available to travelers. CBP will allow the printing of the electronic version of the I-94 through a webpage at: http://www.cbp.gov/i94. Please print a copy of this document. You will be asked to upload a copy when you arrive at Appalachian. For more details, please read: http://www.cbp.gov/document/fact-sheets/i-94-fact-sheet
After you are admitted to the U.S., put these documents in a safe place because you will need to present them to our office when you arrive for international student orientation. Losing these documents will cost you significantly in time and money to replace.
Please Note: You are required by USCIS to attend the institution whose Immigration documents you use to enter the U.S.
Students who are currently inside the U.S. and who wish to gain a different immigration status in the United States have two choices:
- Depart the U.S. and apply for the appropriate visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, and then apply for entry to the U.S. using that visa
- If currently inside the U.S., apply for a "Change of Status" from the U.S. government, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) without departing the U.S.
There are costs and benefits associated with each choice listed above.
If you choose to change status by departing the U.S., applying for a visa from the US consulate or embassy generally takes anywhere from a few days to a month or two.
Applying for a change of status from within the U.S., by applying to USCIS, can take several months and it's very difficult to predict the time needed. Additionally, when applying for a change of status within the U.S., the individual must be able to show that he or she was maintaining their previous status at the time the application was filed with the government. Note that F-1 and J-1 students are required to show that they were maintaining their previous status until at least 30 days prior to the start date listed for their academic program.
There are two options for filing a change of status:
- Filing a paper "I-539" application
- Filing an online electronic application in the Government's "ELIS" System.
Please click on the links below for more information regarding how to apply for a change of status from within the United States. There are many factors to consider when applying for a change of status. If you are considering applying for a change of status, it is important that you speak to a staff member at International Student and Scholar Services and Outreach before applying. Failure to do so can jeopardize your ability to remain in the U.S.
Change of Status in the U.S.
All international students at Appalachian are required to enroll in and maintain health insurance during their entire course of study. Appalachian has partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to provide an insurance plan that meets the required coverage of your student visa. All international students must either enroll in or provide proof of insurance that meets the following requirements:
- Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness
- Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000
- Expenses associated with the medical evacuation of the exchange visitor to his or her home country in the amount of $50,000
- A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
If you do not provide proof that of insurance, you will be enrolled in and charged for the insurance plan. For information on how to enroll or request a waiver, visit: https://healthservices.appstate.edu/health-insurance-information
All students who attend Appalachian are required to provide proof of immunizations and information about your health history to enroll at the univeristy. Please read this letter from Health Services to learn more about exactly what is required of you and how to fulfill these requirements before you attend.
If you are already in the U.S. studying at another U.S. school, OR you have just completed a degree at another U.S. school, OR you are on a period of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) form a prior degree completion, you should begin the process of transferring your SEVIS record to Appalachian. This process is separate from the academic transfer process, and involves the transfer of your SEVIS record at your current school to Appalachian.
If you have already been admitted to a degree program at Appalachian, click on the link (Link Coming Soon) to begin the process.