International Student Services

Join students from over 90 countries who make Andrews their home away from home!

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
Administration Building 307
4150 Administration Building
iss@andrews.edu
(269) 471-6395

I-20 and Student Visa Steps

If you are not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you will most likely need a visa to study at Andrews University.

Unless you are from Canada or Bermuda*, you will need an F-1 visa, and to receive one, you must first receive a Form I-20. Please complete Steps 2 to 7 to receive your I-20 and F-1 visa.

(*NOTE: citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need the F-1 visa but do need an I-20; citizens of Canada and Bermuda should therefore follow Steps 2 to 5, skip Step 6, and go directly to Step 7.)

If you already have an F-1 visa, or you already have a visa other than F-1, you may or may not need an I-20. If you already have an I-20 from another school, you may be able to transfer it to Andrews. If you are in one of these situations, or in another situation of uncertainty, please send an email to iss@andrews.edu to confirm your options.

Visitor visas (B-1 or B-2) will not allow you to study in the United States.

You will need to be accepted into a program of study to receive an I-20.

Go here to apply for a program of study. Once you have submitted your application, you can move to Steps 3 and 4, but you will need to be officially accepted into your program of study before your I-20 can be emailed to you (Step 5).

Fill out the I-20 Starter Form and email it to the International Financial Advisor at isfs@andrews.edu.

The International Financial Advisor will review your I-20 Starter Form to understand your background, your academic plans, your intended living arrangements on campus, and your plans for funding your education at Andrews. All of this information is needed to issue an I-20.

Once the International Financial Advisor has reviewed your I-20 Starter Form, you will receive an email response with instructions for creating a budget sheet, which you will do in Step 4.

Follow all directions from the International Financial Advisor for completing the budget sheet.

After you email the International Financial Advisor the I-20 Starter Form (Step 3), you will receive an email response with a budget sheet that the International Financial Advisor has started for you. The International Financial Advisor will use your I-20 Starter Form to fill out the top half of the budget sheet with your personal and academic information and the estimated expenses for your first academic year (or for the entire program if it is less than a year).

You will be instructed to complete the budget sheet by showing the resources you will use to meet the estimated expenses, and you will be required to send financial (and other) documents as evidence of your resources. Specific instructions for what exactly to send will be given by the International Financial Advisor in the response email.

It is important to follow the International Financial Advisor's instructions carefully and completely and send the specific documents as requested or there will likely be delays in the process.

A Designated School Official (DSO) will email your official I-20 once the International Financial Advisor has verified that your budget sheet is complete.

The DSO will attach your I-20 to the email (and I-20s for any F-2 dependents who will accompany you). You will be instructed to print the I-20 in color and sign and date the first page of your I-20 (and the first page of any I-20s for F-2 dependents).

After receiving your I-20 via email from a DSO, you will need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee by going here. You will need to make this payment before you can schedule a visa interview at a U.S. embassy. Keep your I-20 (and the I-20s of any F-2 dependents), your I-901 SEVIS fee receipt, and your passport together - you will need these for your visa interview.

(NOTE: citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need to schedule a visa interview at a U.S. embassy after receiving the I-20 but do need to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee; after paying the fee, citizens of Canada and Bermuda should skip Step 6 and go directly to Step 7.)

Once you have received your I-20 and you have paid the I-901 SEVIS fee, contact your local U.S. embassy to schedule a visa interview.

Wait times for visa interviews vary. You can check the estimated wait times at the U.S. embassy near you by going here.

(NOTE: citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need to schedule a visa interview at a U.S. embassy after receiving the I-20; citizens of Canada and Bermuda should therefore skip Step 6 and go directly to Step 7.)

Make sure that you have all of the documents you need to travel to the United States.

You will need to bring the following documents with you:

  • Valid passport with F-1 visa (NOTE: citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need the F-1 visa)
  • Signed and dated I-20 (and the signed and dated  I-20s for any F-2 dependents accompanying you)
  • I-901 SEVIS fee receipt

Meet Our Team

Christian Stuart

Executive Director, PDSO, RO

Phone: 269-471-6605

Email: christians@andrews.edu

 

Silmara Ferreira

Associate Director, DSO, ARO

Phone: 269-471-3310

Email: silmara@andrews.edu

 

How to Maintain Your Immigration Status

While you are studying at Andrews, always remember that maintaining your immigration status is ultimately your responsibility.

All students with a nonimmigrant visa should take responsibility for not letting their passport expire (apply for a new one at least six months before the current one expires) and for monitoring immigration deadlines such as visa expiration dates and I-20 or DS-2019 program end dates. It is your responsibility to take action if a deadline is approaching. If your passport will expire soon, contact your local consulate or embassy to find out how to renew it. If the program of study end date on your I-20 or DS-2019 is soon approaching but you will not complete your program by this date, contact a designated school official (DSO) in the Office of International Student Services at iss@andrews.edu at least 30 days before the end date.

If you have an F-1 visa, make sure you keep all versions of the I-20 issued to you over the course of your studies; if you have a J-1 visa, make sure you keep all versions of the DS-2019 issued to you over the course of your specific exchange program.

Finally, make sure you understand your responsibilities regarding key dates, full-course-of-study enrollment, extending a program of study, working with proper authorization, traveling outside of the U.S., and taking breaks, all of which are outlined below (2-7).

If you are an Andrews University student with an F-1 student visa and I-20, you should monitor certain key dates and take any required action:

  • Arrival dates. Look at the program start date on your I-20. You can enter the United States beginning 30 days before this date (and not any earlier).  You can enter the United States up to 30 days after this date, but you should have permission from your academic advisor to arrive late or you will not be able to take classes. If you do not enter the United States within 30 days of the start date, your I-20 will be auto-canceled by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
     
  • I-20 program end date. If the program end date on your I-20 is approaching and you will not actually complete your program by this date, please complete and submit the I-20 Extension Form at least 30 days before the program end date. If you wait until after this program end date to start the extension process, you will likely not have the extension option and will automatically enter the 60-day grace period (see below).
     
  • CPT approval date. You cannot begin off-campus employment through CPT until you have received authorization on your I-20 with an official CPT start date from a designated school official (DSO) in the Office of International Student Services. If you begin working off campus before this CPT approval and official start date, your work will be considered unauthorized employment.
     
  • OPT application time period. You can begin the OPT application process and submit the OPT Status Form beginning 90 days before the program end date listed on your I-20. Make sure you will actually graduate at the time of this program end date before you apply for OPT because once you start the OPT application process you cannot reverse it. You can also apply for OPT up to 60 days after the program end date, but please understand that if you wait until your program end date or after to apply for OPT, you will likely not be granted the full 12 months of OPT.
     
  • OPT start date. Once OPT is approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you will receive an Employee Authorization (EAD) card. You cannot begin working in OPT until the start date listed on the EAD card.
     
  • OPT unemployment period. You do not need to have employment when OPT is approved, but you do need to find employment (at least 30 hours/week) within the first 90 days after the start date listed on your EAD card. If you do not register employment in your SEVIS Portal account within these first 90 days, your OPT status will automaticaly end.
     
  • 60-day grace period. Once your program end date arrives and you have taken no previous action (such as extending your I-20 or applying for OPT), you will automatically enter a 60-day grace period. During this time, you can apply for OPT, apply for another program of study, transfer your I-20 to another school, or do nothing. If you do nothing, you will be required to depart the United States once the 60 days is up. NOTE: once you enter the 60-day grace period, you will not be able to extend the program end date on your I-20. Finally, upon completion of OPT (i.e., the employment end date listed on your EAD card), you will enter the 60-day grace period.
     

If you are in a visa status other than F-1, please contact the Office of International Student Services to discuss which key dates apply to you.

 

If you have an F-1 visa and I-20, you must be registered for a "full course of study" each fall and spring semester to maintain your immigration status.  If your I-20 has a start date within any of the summer sessions (rather than at the start of fall or spring semesters), you must be registered for a "full course of study" during that first summer you are on campus.

A "full course of study" for undergraduate students is defined as enrolling in at least 12 credits per semester.

A "full course of study" for graduate students is defined as:

  • Enrolling in at least 8 credits (9 MDiv) per semester OR
  • Enrolling in a course or section categorized as having "full time status" in the current university bulletin

If you are in a visa status other than F-1, please check with a designated school official (DSO) about the number of credits you need to take each semester.

Students with an F-1 visa and I-20:

  • If you are not going to finish your program of study by the end date listed on your I-20, contact a designated school official (DSO) at iss@andrews.edu at least 30 days before the end date. If you need to extend your program of study end date, you can simply complete and submit the I-20 Extension Form.
  • If you let the program of study end date pass without completing or extending your program of study, you will immediately be out of status. At this point, you will likely have to temporarily depart the United States, pay the SEVIS fee again, and return to the United States with a new I-20 (and possibly a new F-1 visa) before you can enroll for more classes.

Students with a J-1 visa and DS-2019:

  • Please contact a designated school official (DSO) at iss@andrews.edu at least 30 days before the program end date listed on your DS-2019 if you intend to extend your time as an exchange visitor.
  • If you let this date pass by, you will likely need to pay a fee to have your status reinstated, and in some cases, you may not be allowed to reintstate your status.

If you are in a visa status other than F-1 or J-1, please contact the Office of International Student Services to discuss if and how you can extend your visa dates.

F-1 on-campus employment:

  • Students in F-1 status can work on campus up to 20 hours per week while taking classes and more than 20 hours per week during school breaks.
  • If you are in your first year of studies at Andrews, you can work up to 29 hours per week during school breaks when you are not taking classes; after your first year of studies at Andrews, you can work up to 40 hours per week during school breaks when you are not taking classes.

F-1 off-campus employment:

  • Working off campus requires authorization, most often through Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • If you work off campus without authorization, the U.S. government (SEVIS) requires that a designated school official (DSO) in the Office of International Student Services immediately cancel your I-20. You will then be out of status and required to depart the United States immediately.

If you are in a visa status other than F-1,  you should visit the Office of International Student Services to discuss your employment options.

If you have an F-1 visa and plan to travel internationally during your program of study, visit a designated school official (DSO) in the Office of International Student services before you leave the Andrews campus so that we can make sure you have everything you need to return.

Once you depart the United States, you will need, at the very minimum, the following to reenter:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid I-20 with active dates and current travel endorsement signed by a DSO
  • Valid unexpired F-1 visa (NOTE: citizens of Canada and Bermuda do not need the F-1 visa)

Depending on your travel plans and the length of time you intend to be out of the country, there may be additional requirements. Always talk to a DSO before you leave so that you can anticipate and meet all requirements.

If you plan to be out of the United States for more than 5 months, your I-20 will need to be cancelled and when you return to Andrews, you will be required to obtain a new I-20 before you can enter the United States.

If you plan to be out of the United States for an extended time but less than 5 months, it may be possible to temporarily deactivate your I-20 and reactivate it when you return, but for this to be possible, you will need to talk to a DSO both before you leave and before the start of the semester that you will miss while you are out of the country.

If you are in a visa status other than F-1,  you should visit the Office of International Student Services to discuss your international travel options.

 

You can always take a break during official university holidays and vacation periods regardless of your student visa status.

If you have an F-1 visa, you are required to take a full load of classes (or be classified as a full-time graduate student) every fall and spring semester, and you cannot take a break in either of these semesters.

F-1 students who take a full load of classes in spring semester and intend to take a full load of classes in the next fall semester can take a break from studies in the summer. F-1 students who are beginning their studies on campus in the summer (even if they have already started classes online in a previous semester) must take a full load of classes (or be classified as a full-time graduate student) in that first summer.

If you are in a visa status other than F-1,  you should visit the Office of International Student Services to discuss your options for taking a break from studies.

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