Visa Information

Your visa is vital for your travel to New Jersey. Read on for important information concerning your student visa.

CHECKLIST FOR VISA INTERVIEW
Obtaining your visa is an extremely important part of your travel process. Here are some points to carefully consider when applying:

You must clearly establish that you are planning to return to your home country; try to explain exactly or as nearly as possible when. Also, indicate what kind of job you expect to pursue in your home country, and who will help you find this job (parents, government officials, and other professional contacts).

You must express yourself in good conversational English; your TOEFL or IELTS scores may be required, GRE results and GMAT are useful, but not always required. You should also have a fairly solid academic record which will suggest that you will be a successful college or university student in the United States. Expect that the interview will be conducted in English

There should be a logical connection between what you have studied in your home country and what you plan to do in your American institution. Be prepared to explain why you have selected a particular school—for example, you met a representative at an educational fair, you know someone who is familiar with the school, your school is a “Sister School” with the American host institution, or the institution has a program that is not available at home.

Financial documentation is important so that it is clear that you will be able to take care of your financial responsibilities at your American institution, so it is imperative that yours be thorough and genuine. You should be prepared to bring several documents. A bank statement must reflect several months of the necessary funds. Also, try to provide a copy of your father’s or mother’s salary job description and any other assets where relevant. If you have a financial sponsor, a letter of support must clearly indicate that the funds have already been placed in a Trust or set aside specifically for this purpose. Some schools will require that a letter of this sort be notarized to verify the signature of the sponsor.

Your host institution will send you an admissions letter which should include an agreement from them that you have been accepted into a course of study, indicate academic awards if any, the start date of your beginning semester and other information, such as student identification numbers and final requirements. This will serve to prove that you have in fact gained admission to the institution. Each country’s consulate may have other requirements. Please check with your consulate to verify.

General Information

FAQs, travel tips, and health info that is definitely worth reading. This is some important, meaty information.

Who Can Study In New Jersey?

A student planning on living in the U.S temporarily and for a specific purpose (i.e. attending school) is considered a “Nonimmigrant”. There are two categories of Nonimmigrant depending on your intent of study. Students coming to New Jersey to pursue full-time academic or vocational studies are usually admitted into one of these two nonimmigrant categories.

Nonimmigrant Categories
F-1 Category
The F-1 category includes academic students in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, other academic institutions, and in language training.

M-1 Category
The M-1 category includes vocational students.

If you are planning to study in New Jersey as an Exchange Visitor, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Department of State Websites. Also, please see the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 CFR 214.2, 212.7, and 22 CFR 514.

Please note: If you are planning on attending a public high school (grades 9-12) in New Jersey there are a few things to take into consideration. A student with Nonimmigrant (F-1) status must submit evidence that the local school district has been reimbursed in advance for the unsubsidized per capita cost of the education. Also, attendance at U.S. public high schools cannot exceed a total of 12 months. F-1 students are prohibited from attending public elementary schools and publicly-funded adult education programs in the United States.

What Does the Law Say?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) governs the admission of all people to the United States. For the part of the law concerning temporary admissions to the United States, such as Nonimmigrants, please see INA § 214 .The specific eligibility requirements and procedures for applying for academic student status are included in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8CFR § 214.2(f).

How Do I Apply if I am Outside of the United States?

There are several important steps when it comes to your application. First of all, students can only apply to study at a SEVP certified school in the United States. To find out whether a school is SEVP certified, visit here. Once you are accepted, the school should give you a USCIS Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students). If you require a visa, then you take the USCIS Form I-20 to the nearest U.S. consulate to obtain a student visa. Only bring the USCIS Form I-20 from the school you plan on attending for visa processing at the U.S. consulate. You must also prove to the consulate that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States. Please see the State Department Website for more information on visa processing.

When you arrive in the United States, you should receive a Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) that will include your admission number to the United States. Form I-94 is a three-part white card that the nonimmigrant usually completes while still on board the incoming plane. The immigration official at the Port of Entry retains the upper “Arrival Record” portion of the I-94, and stamps and returns to the alien the lower “Departure Record” part of the I-94. The Departure Record is commonly referred to simply as the “I-94.” It is usually stapled into the alien’s passport. Ultimately this card will be surrendered when the individual exits the United States. In theory this is how DHS keeps track of who has entered and who has left the United States.

What the immigration official at the port of entry stamps and writes on the I-94 is extremely important. It is regrettable that these cards are so small and inconsequential looking. People often mistake them for luggage tags or dismiss them as being unimportant because they don’t look very “official.” In fact, the Form I-94 is a key document for many nonimmigrant functions.

The DHS stamp and notations on Form I-94 show the nonimmigrant’s classification, e.g. F-1 or J-2, the place and date of the person’s admission to the United States, and the period of stay authorized. When an individual needs to demonstrate his or her current nonimmigrant category to DHS when applying for a benefit, Form I-94 is always included as part of proof of status. You should also keep safe your Form I-94, because it proves that you legally entered the United States.

How Can I Change My Nonimmigrant Status to Become a Student If I Am Already in the United States?

To change your Nonimmigrant Status you first must apply to study at a SEVP certified school in the United States*. Once you contact the school that you are interested in attending, you should be notified immediately if the school accepts foreign national students. If you are accepted, the school should send you USCIS Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students). You must submit this form and a USCIS Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) to the USCIS. You must also prove that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States.

*Please be aware that if you have been admitted as a B-1 (Temporary Visitor for Business) or B-2 (Temporary Visitor for Pleasure) visa holder, you may not begin your program studies until your application for these studies is approved.

How Do I Apply for Permission to Transfer Schools?

Thinking about transferring? To transfer from a SEVIS school to a SEVIS school you must first notify your current school of the intent to transfer and must indicate the school to which you intend to transfer. Upon notification, the current school will update you record in SEVIS as a “transfer out” and indicate the school to which you intend to transfer, and a release date. The release date will be the current semester or session completion date, or the date of expected transfer if earlier than the established academic cycle. The current school will retain control over your record in SEVIS until you completes the current term or reach the release date. At your request, the DSO of the current school may cancel the transfer request at any time prior to the release date. As of the release date specified by the current DSO, the transfer school will be granted full access to your SEVIS record and then becomes responsible for you.

Can I Bring My Spouse and Children with Me to the United States?

Yes, your family will enjoy living in New Jersey and will have the opportunity to experience America. Your spouse and children may come with you to the United States under Nonimmigrant (F-2) status.

Your spouse and minor children must be issued a SEVIS I-20 in their own names. Dependent information is entered into SEVIS in records that are connected to your record.

The F-2 status of your family will be dependent upon your status as the F-1 academic student. This means that if you change your status, your family must change their status. If you lose your status, your family will also lose their status.

How Long Can I Stay in the United States?

It’s simple. The longer you study…the longer you stay! You are allowed to stay in the United States for as long as you are enrolled as a full-time student in an educational program and making normal progress toward completing your course of study. If approved, you also will be allowed to stay in the country up to twelve additional months beyond the completion of your studies to pursue practical training. At the end of your studies or practical training, you will be given sixty days to prepare to leave the country or transfer out to another institution.

How Can I Extend My Stay as a Student in the United States?

Can’t get enough of New Jersey? You do not need to apply to extend your stay in the United States as long as you are maintaining your student status and making normal progress toward completing your academic course of study. The designated school official (DSO) from your school will write down a completion date on your USCIS Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students). Under normal circumstances, you should be able to complete your studies by this date.

Will I Get a Work Permit?

The cost of living in New Jersey varies for different areas of the state. If you need extra money you may be allowed to work on-campus or off-campus (after the completion of your first year of study) under very limited circumstances. Please see the rules on student employment at 8 CFR 214.2 (f). You may also wish to discuss employment with the designated school official (DSO) at your school. Your accompanying spouse and child may not accept employment. When you have completed your degree, you may apply for Optional Practical Training for one year.

Can I Travel Outside the United States?

Sometimes it is necessary to travel outside the U.S. or take a trip back home. Students may leave the United States and be readmitted after absences of five months or less. Upon your return to the United States, you should provide immigration inspectors with:

  • A valid passport.
  • A valid F-1 entry visa stamped in the passport (if necessary).
  • A current USCIS Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students) signed by your appropriate school official (you should have the appropriate school official sign your USCIS Form I-20 each time you wish to temporarily travel outside the United States).
  • Proof of your financial support.
  • Unofficial transcript

When making your travel plans, please remember that you must be a full-time student to keep your F-1 student status. You will be considered to be “in status” if you take the annual summer vacation, as long as you are eligible and intend to register for the next school term.

Can Anyone Help Me?

Don’t worry. Help is always easy to find! Schools in NJ are ready and willing to assist international students with any questions they may have. We know that this process can be confusing and overwhelming. Your school will have a designated school official (DSO) to help you with immigration issues. But remember that you (the F-1 student) are solely responsible for following U.S. immigration laws.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

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