F-1 Student Visa Requirements/Procedures

Who Is an International Student?

Like all countries in the world, the United States has laws and regulations governing foreigners who are temporarily within its borders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the Immigration regulations.

International students are those who already have, or will be applying for, a temporary visa (most commonly the F-1 and J-1 visas) to study in the U.S. Therefore, it is important for you to understand the immigration rules as they apply to your student status. DHS-USCIS does not consider ignorance of the law a legitimate reason for failing to obey it.

Passport

Be sure to apply for a passport in your home country with first and last names that exactly match the first and last names on the education documents you will submit to SUNY Plattsburgh. Most passports are good for a limited time. Your passport must be valid at all times after you arrive to the United States. It is your responsibility to apply for the passport and to remember when it will expire and contact the nearest Consulate or Embassy of your country in the States to renew it.

F-1 Visa

When SUNY Plattsburgh accepts an international student for full-time study, we enter the student's information into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and send the student a SEVIS I-20 form as proof of acceptance and to use it to apply for an F-1 student visa. Thereafter, the student must present the following documents to the U.S embassy/consulate at his/her home country to apply for the F-1 student visa. The official Directory of United States Embassies and Consulates Overseas will help you find the contact information for the embassy nearest to you.

  1. Valid Passport (for at least 6 months)
  2. Original letter of acceptance/admission from SUNY Plattsburgh
  3. Valid SEVIS I-20 form issued by SUNY Plattsburgh
  4. SEVIS fees receipt (form I-797) or (print out of the online payment)
  5. Original copies of all of the financial documents [such as bank statement(s)]
  6. Copies of all of your high/secondary school or college transcripts
  7. Copies of TOEFL or IELTS score (s) 
  8. Proof of ties to your home country (Please read these 10 Points to remember when applying for an F-1 or a J-1 visa)

After You Have Applied for an F-1 Visa

When you submit all of the above to the U.S embassy/consulate to apply for the F-1 student visa, the embassy will verify your information in the SEVIS system and decide to issue or deny you a visa.

If You Are Denied a Student F-1 Visa

Please visit the United States' Department of State web site to learn more about the visa denial.

If You Are Granted an F-1 Visa

The U.S embassy/consulate will add a visa sticker with your photo in your passport. The visa allows you to enter the United States for a specific purpose in a clearly defined time frame. Students are usually given an F-1 or J-1 visas. Spouses and children of F-1 visa holders are assigned an F-2 visa. J-1 visas are given to researchers, scholars, and students. Spouses and children of these visitors are assigned J-2 visas. Since this visa sticker is only important for entry and re-entry to the United States, you MUST have the following documents to enter the USA:

  1. Valid Passport (for at least 6 months) with a valid F-1 or J-1 visa
  2. Original letter of acceptance/admission from SUNY-Plattsburgh
  3. Valid SEVIS I-20 form issued by SUNY-Plattsburgh
  4. Original copies of all of the financial documents (such as bank statement(s))
  5. Proof of ties to your home country (please read these tips on how to apply for an F-1 visa)

After Arrival to the United States

When you arrive at a United States airport, you will be asked to complete a small white card called I-94, also called the Arrival/Departure Record of Stay Permit. This form is very important since it officially determines how long an international student can remain in the U.S. Students on F-1 and J-1 visas, usually have their I-94 stamped "D/S" (Duration of Status) which means the student can remain in this country for the length of time required to complete his/her studies as long as the student follows all of the regulations of the student visa. The eleven-digit number written on your I-94 is your DHS-USCIS admission number, which is used by the DHS-USCIS to monitor your entry into and departure from the U.S.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about international education, admission, or financial aid at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact:

Global Education Office
State University of New York at Plattsburgh
Kehoe Administration Building, Room 210
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, New York 12901 USA

Phone: (518) 564-3287
Fax: (518) 564-3292
Email: GEO@plattsburgh.edu

Facebook:  SUNY Plattsburgh International Students