- How do I maintain my F-1 Visa?
- My passport is about to expire. What should I do?
- What is a status letter?
- How do I transfer to another school?
- My friend wants to transfer into VIU from another U.S. school. What should I tell him/her?
- How do I extend my stay at VIU?
- What is the SEVIS fee?
- How do I apply for a driver’s license?
- I want to go back to my country during the break. What should I do?
- What documents to I need to re-enter the U.S.?
- What should I pay attention to upon re-entry to the U.S.?
- I am a new student. What do I need to do when I arrive in the U.S. for the first time?
- What do I do when leaving the United States?
- I have a new U.S. sponsor. Where do I report this information?
- My visa is expiring. What should I do?
- I would like to bring a family member as a dependent to the U.S. What do I need to do?
Follow all the rules and regulations to maintain your F-1 Visa .
It is important to keep a passport that is valid for at least 6 months into the future. If your passport will expire in the next 6 months, contact your embassy to renew your passport immediately.
A status letter states a student’s current status and program of study at VIU. The letter can be issued by the International Student Advisor.
Inform the ISS Office of your intent to transfer at least 15 days before the new semester start date at VIU. Please note that VIU does not grant any transfer certificates when school is officially in session.
Please direct your friend to VIU’s Transfer Student page.
NOTE: F-1 students who transfer from one school to another school in the United States must complete the transfer process within 15 days of the start date on the I-20. You must have your F-1 record released to the new school within 60 days of completing a degree or Optional Practical Training. F-1 students who have not maintained their status at the previous school are not eligible for an immigration transfer.
Students who are unable to complete their program by the end date indicated on the I-20 must have a compelling academic or medical reason to apply for an extension of stay. Please come into the ISS Office to begin the extension of stay process at least 30 days before your I-20 expires.
A $200.00 fee will be collected by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from those individuals seeking an F-1 Visa. The purpose of this fee is to cover the costs for the continued operation of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). This fee will apply to the following individuals:
- Those who will travel to the U.S. for initial attendance as an F or J nonimmigrant (even if the individual is visa-exempt, e.g. Canadians)
- Those already in the United States that will apply for a change of status to F or J classification
- Current J-1 non-immigrants who will apply for a J-1 change of category on or after 9/1/2004
You can find more information on SEVIS at the following site: https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.jsp
To obtain a driver’s license in Virginia you will need the following documents:
- I-20 from VIU
- I-94 form
- Student status letter from the Registrar's Office
- Bank statement OR official transcript from VIU
To receive a student status letter, please fill out the request form at the front desk in the Waples Mill campus. Ask the Accounting Office to sign the form, and give the form to the Registrar's Office. We ask that you allow a 3-day processing period.
For more information, please visit www.dmvnow.com. To study for the learner’s permit exam, please visit http://www.dmvnow.com/dmvweb/kats/sne_intro.asp and study "Driver's License: Part 1 Traffic Signs & Part 2 General Knowledge."
Once you get a learner’s permit, wait for at least one month then you can go to a DMV office and take a road test for a regular driver’s license.
Find out how to travel outside of the United States as an F-1 student here.
Hand-carry the following documents (do not check them with your luggage):
- Your passport
- I-901 SEVIS fee receipt (you can print out your payment history from https://www.fmjfee.com/i901fee/index.jsp)
- Evidence of financial resources
- Evidence of your student status (such as tuition receipts or an acceptance letter)
You may not be asked for all of these documents, but it is advised that you have them with you. It is a good idea to have your documents in a folder or some other organizer to present at the port of entry check..
Note: The travel signature applies only to continuing students, not first-time entry students
When being admitted to the United States, you will fill out the form I-94 arrival/departure card (this may happen on the airplane). IMPORTANT: Be sure you spell your name the same way it appears on your passport and I-20. Inform the Customs and Border Patrol Officer at the port of entry as soon as possible that you are an initial or returning F-1 student.
You must report to the International Student Services Office upon your initial entry (the first time you arrive to start school) so that you can be registered in the SEVIS system. Even if you decide not to attend school, you must report to the ISS Office or you will go out of status and risk immigration problems. If for some reason you cannot come to the New Student Orientation, you must report to VIU before the first day of classes. Failure to check in at VIU may cause you to go into unlawful immigration status, and you may run the risk of deportation. Maintain contact with your ISS Advisors at VIU throughout your stay to ensure that your I-20 is updated and that you are in good status. Section 5 (page 1) of your I-20 should show your graduation date; if this date changes; visit the ISS Office to have it updated.
Turn in your I-94 card to Customs & Border Patrol when you depart to ensure that you are not recorded as overstaying. If you have lost your I-94 card, keep your boarding pass and other proof that you have departed and contact the ISS Office for instructions.
If there are any changes in your financial status or sponsorship information (changing your sponsor, receiving financial aid or a scholarship), you must report to the ISS Office immediately within 10 days of this change.
The visa is the stamp in your passport that allows you to enter the United States. It does not determine your length of stay here; your I-20 and the I-94 card indicate the length of your stay. A student visa can only be obtained at a U.S. Embassy or consulate outside of the United States. If your visa expires and you maintain your status, there is no need to travel outside of the U.S. for the sole purpose of renewing your visa.
To bring a family member with you, you must submit these documents.
DISCLAIMER: The information and content available on VIU’s ISS website are not comprehensive and are subject to change at any time in accordance with U.S. regulatory agency policies. Accuracy of the information contained here cannot be guaranteed for any future date. International students are responsible for maintaining their own student visas.