F-1 Visa Student Guidance regarding COVID-19

F-1 students should monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the most up to date information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and possible travel requirements.

Whether you’re a new international student at St. Edward’s, or you have already spent time on the hilltop, the International Student Services Office (ISS) is committed to helping you succeed.

International Student Services (ISS) advises students with F-1 and J-1 student visa categories about immigration, acculturation and other topics. 

Information for New International Students

Follow the steps below to get your student visa to study in the U.S. Please note: We’re trained and authorized to advise on F-1 and J-1 visa matters. For questions about other visa types and categories, seek a qualified immigration attorney.

GET A FORM I-20

The Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student (F-1) Status, allows you to apply for the F-1 student visa or continue your F-1 status if you are transferring from another school in the U.S. St. Edward's will not issue an I-20 after the program start date. After you’ve been admitted and made your deposit, complete the following so that ISS can issue your I-20: 

I-20 Request Period

Initial I-20  Fall March 1- August 1; Spring October 1- December 1

Transfer I-20 Fall March 1- August 15; Spring October 1- December 15

  1. Complete the Apply for an I-20 request to provide required information for your I-20.
  2. Submit all documents before the end of the I-20 request period in order to receive an I-20. 
  3. Documents to be uploaded in the "Apply I-20" Form:
  4. If you’re currently studying in the U.S. with an F-1 student visa, transfer your I-20 record to St. Edward's University. Complete Section I of the Transfer Eligibility Form, then ask your advisor or school official at your current school to complete Section II. When both sections are completed, submit the form.
  5. If you're a student visa holder in a flexible in-person graduate program, submit the modality attestation form prior to I-20 issuance. To document in-person attendance, the university provides the session attendance tool.
  6. If admitted, a newly accepted student will be required to depart the U.S., apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy for the F-1 student visa (outside the U.S.), and re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. ISS currently does not issue the Change of Status Form I-20 to new students who wish to remain in the U.S. and petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a change of non-immigrant status to the F-1 visa; unless that student is already enrolled at St. Edward's University and is eligible for a change of status to F-1 within the US.

Dual Degree International Students:

Note: APU Dual Degree students use the transfer application and omit the essay portion. The Deposit fee will be waived.  SEU will need the following documents to issue the I-20 after nomination by the partner university. Upload all documents into the Apply I-20 for Dual Degree. 

APU Dual Degree Nomination Form

  • Passport identification page
  • Certificate of Finance Form for Dual Degree and Banking certification letter 
  • English proficiency scores (TOEFL ITP: 550 or higher, TOEFL IBT: 79 or higher, IELTS: 6.0 or higher)
  • Transcripts (in English) Students may submit unofficial transcripts from Campusmate. 

Follow all new students policies and complete required tasks on Hillstart for transfer students. APU students will be assigned the St. Andre Apartments

Digitally Signed Form I-20 Guidance

ISS will no longer issue paper I-20 forms to students and will instead issue digitally-signed electronic I-20 forms. ISS will digitally sign the electronic I-20 form and provide the protected PDF file directly to students by email. Please note, the digitally-signed I-20 form is not a copy of your paper I-20 form. The digitally-signed I-20 form is considered your original and most up-to-date I-20 form. 

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that schools are permitted to digitally sign I-20 forms. SEVP coordinated with all government agencies including the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to raise awareness of the approved digitally-signed I-20 format. The digitally-signed I-20 form is accepted by DOS at the time of attending a visa interview as well as by CBP when an individual attempts to enter the U.S. The digitally-signed form is also acceptable for USCIS filing purposes. You can learn more about the SEVP support for the digitally-signed I-20 online at https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf.

How to Use Your Digitally Signed I-20 Form

After receiving your digitally-signed I-20 form, you will need to do the following:

1. Print a hard copy of the digitally-signed I-20 form on standard 8.5 inches X 11 inches white paper.

2. Sign with your signature at the bottom of the 1st page of the digitally-signed I-20.

3. Travel with the hard-copy printed version of the digitally-signed I-20 in hand when you enter the U.S. or attend your visa interview. 

4. Bookmark the SEVP guidance on digitally-signed I-20s here to reference, if needed. 

Presenting your digitally-signed I-20 form on your phone, tablet or laptop will not be acceptable for any official government purposes.

APPLY FOR YOUR STUDENT VISA

Follow the process below to get your visa. We encourage you to visit the State Department for detailed instructions.

  • Pay the SEVIS 1-901 fee and print your receipt. Here’s a helpful tutorial to walk you through the process.
  • Complete the Non-immigrant Visa Application (DS-160) and pay the fees. Then, print the form confirmation page and your receipt, and bring them both to your interview.
  • Schedule an appointment for your visa interview at your local U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Attend your scheduled visa interview. Bring all required documents and receipts and be prepared to answer personal questions. Here are 10 tips to help you succeed in your interview. Required documents include: original I-20, SEVIS I-901 receipt, DS-160 visa application confirmation, admission letter and financial support information.
TRAVELING TO THE HILLTOP

You may enter the U.S. 30 days before the program start date shown on your I-20.

Check-in and immigration reporting takes place on International Landing Day and is mandatory. During International Landing Day, we’ll collect the information we need from you to register your immigration record and give you an overview of F-1 student visa rules and benefits. In addition to International Landing Day, you’ll attend International Student Orientation.

Information for Current and Returning International Students

We encourage you to stay in touch with ISS during your time on the Hilltop. Remember, you need our assistance to update your I-20 if you:

  • Extend or change your program or degree
  • Intend to transfer to a new school
  • Drop below full-time enrollment
  • Need your I-20 signed for travel
  • Move to a new address
  • Want employment authorization

 Review the following about maintaining your visa status, work authorization and guidance on travel.

Disclaimer: ISS provides regulatory and practice information related to F- and J-status, as it stands at the time of the consult. Government agencies may change their interpretation of established immigration laws/regulations and eligibility requirements for benefits at any time. Regulatory content is designed for students; it’s not intended to constitute legal advice or substitute for legal counsel. It is the student’s responsibility to maintain legal status in the U.S. at all times and to comply fully with university policies and procedures.