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Obtaining a VISA

The Immigration and National Act is very specific with regard to the requirements which must be met by applicants to qualify for the student visa. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they properly meet student visa requirements including:
  • Have a residence abroad, with no immediate intention of abandoning that residence;
  • Intend to depart from the United States upon completion of the course of study; and
  • Possess sufficient funds to pursue the proposed course of study.

Most students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States will seek an F-1(non-immigrant) student visa, which is the most common type of visa for those who wish to study in the United States. If you are a citizen of Canada or Bermuda, you do not need a visa, but you will need to obtain a Form I-20. If you will come to study on another type of visa, please consult the relevant websites and government agencies to determine which type of visa will be authorized for your situation. Students who currently attend another institution in F-1 non-immigrant status need to complete the SEVIS Transfer In Form.

Click here for the VISA checklist. It contains a brief overview of every step of the VISA process for all international students.

See below for an in-depth explanation of the VISA process.

FAQ's || Applying for a VISA || Arrival in the U.S. || Pre-Arrival Information for Canadian Students

FAQ's

  • What is a Visa?

    A Visa grants permission to enter the United States for a specific purpose.

  • What is SEVIS?

    Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is an internet-based system that maintains data on foreign students and exchange visitors before and during their stay in the United States. The system is maintained by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

  • What is an F-1 student?

    An F-1 student is a nonimmigrant who is pursuing a full course of study to achieve a specific educational objective at an approved institution that has been enrolled in SEVIS.

  • What is an I-20?

    The I-20 is a multi-purpose government form used in connection with many F-1 procedures and benefits. It is a 3-page document issued through SEVIS by the school and retained by the student. This form is only a "certificate of eligibility" for F-1 Status. The student must use the I-20 to acquire F-1 status.

  • Is there a list of relevant websites that will help me to understand the process of applying for a student visa?

  Related Links

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Applying for a Visa

  1. To acquire F-1 status a student needs to receive Form I-20, produced in SEVIS. For PEA to issue the Form I-20 to enrolled students, they must meet the following conditions:
    1. Provide documentation that the student has financial resources adequate to meet the expenses while studying at the Waldorf School of Garden City. Complete and submit the Financial Certification Form. We recommend that you obtain two original copies of the Financial Certification Form: one to submit to WSG and one to take to your visa interview as proof of financial support.
    2. Be officially admitted to the school.
  2. Apply for F-1 Visa
    1. Review your visa status, and find out if you need a U.S. visa or a renewal. If you are currently abroad, and do not yet have a valid U.S. student visa, you generally apply for one at the U.S. Embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence.
    2. Review the Visa Wait Times information for interview appointments and visa processing at each embassy and consular section.
    3. Schedule your interview. Thoroughly review all information on the specific Embassy's Consular Section website. Wait times for appointments vary greatly and you need to plan carefully to make sure that you have enough time to schedule your interview. Expect that you will be required to make your appointment at least four to eight weeks in advance.
    4. Pay the Federal SEVIS fee of $200.00
      • Your form I-20 must be issued before you pay this fee.
    5. Check the date on your passport: your passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry in to the United States. If you plan to enter on September 1, then your passport must not expire before March 1. This condition is applicable every time you enter the United States. Upon entry into the United States your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of entry.
  3. Bring the following with you to your visa appointment:
    1. Passport
    2. Required photos
    3. Visa fee
    4. Federal SEVIS I-901 Fee payment recipt
    5. U. S. non-immigrant visa application forms(unless you will complete at the embassy)
    6. Waldorf School of Garden City admission letter
    7. Waldorf School of Garden City SEVIS I-20
    8. Test scores and academic records
    9. Proof of financial support
    10. Evidence of ties to your home country

The above information and fees were published on the U.S. Department of State's website in March 2010. Regulations and fees can change at any time. Students must check the information posted on the U. S. Department of State's website. The above information is intended to be an introductory guide to help you as you begin the process.

Review the information on applying for a Student Visa on the U.S. Department of State's website. In addition, review the embassy specific instructions.

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Arrival in the United States

You may not enter the United Stated more than 30 days before the program start date listed on your SEVIS I-20 form.


ALWAYS HAND CARRY YOUR DOCUMENTS.


Port of Entry Procedures

Be sure to have with you the following:

  • Your passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry
  • Your visa in your passport
  • Your form I-20
  • Proof of Federal SEVIS fee payment

Flight attendants will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059) and Arrival Departure Record Forms (I-94). Click here for instructions on how to complete the Form I-94:

The Customs and Border Patrol CBP will review your documents and should stamp your I-94 card or your arrival/departure record and your passport. The officer will also note "D/S" or Duration of Status for the length of stay on the bottom portion of your Form I-94. The officer may staple the bottom portion of the I-94 in your passport. Safeguard this card; it is the official record of your stay in the United States.

If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the U.S., it's very important to keep in your passport.

When you leave the port of entry, you should have your stamped passport, your stamped I-20, and your stamped I-94 card with you. Do not lose your I-94: the replacement fee is $320.00.

The United States State Department sponsors a program called Education USA. The website has useful information outlining the process of obtaining a visa and defines all of the terms. You may find the Education USA website helpful.

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Pre-Arrival Information for Canadian Students
following admission to The Waldorf School of Garden City

Checklist for new Canadian students:

  • Submit required documentation to PEA for form I-20. Financial Certification Form.

When you receive your form I-20:

  • Review the information. Your name must match on your I-20 and your passport.
  • You and your parents (if you are under 18 years of age) must sign it.
  • Pay the Federal SEVIS fee of $200.00
  • Your form I-20 must be issued before you pay this fee.
  • For information
  • Check the date on your passport: your passport must be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of entry in to the United States. If you plan to enter on September 1, then your passport must not expire before March 1. This condition is applicable every time you enter the United States. Upon entry into the United States your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of entry.


At the border:

Citizens of Canada are not required to obtain a U.S. visa to enter the United States. However, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will inspect your papers either at a pre-inspection site in Canada or upon entry to the United States. You must have with you:

  • Your Canadian passport
  • Your admission letter to the Waldorf School of Garden City
  • Proof of Federal SEVIS Fee payment
  • Your form I-20
  • Proof of financial support that corresponds to the information on your I-20
  • Do not attempt to enter more than 30 days before program start date on I-20

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